Completed in 1996, with funding from the federal government’s Building Better Cities program, the Cumberland Line was really in effect just a few extra kms of track and a flyover. However, its effect was to allow trains on the Western Line coming from Parramatta to travel directly through to Liverpool on the South Line.
It remains the only true radial line in the Cityrail network (not counting the Carlingford Line), as it never actually passed through the CBD. Instead, it connects a number of centres in Western Sydney, including Blacktown, Parramatta, Liverpool and Campbelltown. As far as train lines go, the Cumberland Line is as small as you get, as it uses existing track for most of its length, and was created through the construction of a Y-link.
The Cumberland Line originally had a total of 70 half hourly services in each direction all day. These were slowly reduced until the 2005 timetable changes, with its need for additional rolling stock to deal with longer journey times, resulted in only 2 services to Parramatta in the morning and 3 services to Campbelltown in the evening. It is more heavily used when trackworks or network disruptions occur, allowing trains to be re-routed to the Cumberland Line rather than terminating.
Today the Cumberland Line is one of the biggest examples of spare capacity on the Cityrail network. In recent years there have been proposals from both major parties to resume half hourly services on the Cumberland Line, but despite this it remains at 5 services per day.
Next week: Olympic Park Line.