As before, this is all based on the current draft of the timetable, and may change.
The new timetable adds some additional services outside of peak hour. An extra 2 trains per hour (TPH) have been added to the Northern, Western, Airport, and Cumberland Lines. Meanwhile, stopping patterns have been simplified, resulting in a more even spread of trains. For example, though Croydon retains 4 trains per hour, the gap between trains (known as headways) drops from a maximum of 20 minutes to 15 minutes, while for city-bound trains from Liverpool maximum headways will fall from 27 to 19 minutes.
Most importantly, spacings have been managed well enough so that passengers taking a train within the CBD will now never have to wait longer than 11 minutes for their next train, down from the current 15 minute maximum. This maximum wait figure is as low as 6 minutes for anyone taking the City Circle via Town Hall.
High frequency services will also last longer into the night on both the Bankstown and Eastern Suburbs Lines.
Currently, of the 176 stations on the Cityrail suburban network, only 47% of them (82 stations) have 15 minute frequencies between the peaks. However, with the previously mentioned improvements, that figures rises to 64% of the network (113 stations). This improvement is biggest on the Western and Northern Lines, though improvements may also occur on the Airport, Bankstown, and Eastern Suburbs Lines.
Note: Headways of 17 minutes have been counted as being the same as 15 minutes, while those of 19 minutes have not.
How to read the tables below
The off peak is (roughly) all trains that arrive at Central Station between 12:00PM and 1:00PM each weekday afternoon.
The exception to the above is Parramatta bound services between Blacktown and Harris Park. In these cases, it’s trains arriving at Parramatta Station between 12:00PM and 1:00PM.
Frequency refers to the number of trains that stop at that station during that hour. It indicates the total capacity of the line, in terms of seats and standing room.
Headways refers to the time between trains at that station (and not the time between them when they arrive at Central). The important figure is the maximum headways, as it shows how long the wait is to the next train can be if you just missed the train. Different stopping patterns can mean headways differ at origin and destination, and commentary has been provided for some of these instances.
Journey time indicates whether journeys are longer, shorter, or the same, and by how long. This can sometimes be subjective, so use it as a rough guide.
Green means better (e.g. shorter journey times, higher frequency, shorter max headways), yellow means unchanged, red means worse.
Stations within the CBD (as well as out to Bondi Junction and Chatswood), on which passengers sometimes have to wait 12 or 15 minutes for the next train if they just miss one, will now have maximum headways of 11 minutes, and as low as 6 minutes on one line through the city. This will help to allow people to use the rail network for trips within the CBD and parts of the inner city without having to refer to a timetable. Thus allowing more spontaneous trips. This is not as feasible when missing a train can add an extra 15 minutes to your journey.
The changes to the City Circle are a bit technical, so feel free to skip the next 2 paragraphs.
Currently there are 10 trains per hour that enter the City Circle via Town Hall – 2 from the South Line, 4 from the Inner West Line, and 4 from the Macdonaldtown stabling yard. Meanwhile, another 10 trains per hour enter the City Circle via Town Hall – 6 from the Airport Line and 4 from the Bankstown Line. These 10 trains feed back into each other (so a South Line train might come out the other end as an Airport Line train, while a Bankstown Line train might come out the other end into the Macdonaldtown stabling).
Under the proposed changes, 2 extra Airport Line services are being added, but Bankstown Line trains now enter the City Circle via Town Hall and feedback into the Bankstown Line from Museum (i.e. it becomes a self contained loop). That reduces the number of trains entering via Museum from 10 to 8. Meanwhile, the number of Macdonaldtown stabling yard trains is reduced from 4 to 2, which when combined with the increase of 4 trains from the Bankstown Line results in 12 trains per hour entering the City Circle via Town Hall – 2 from the South Line, 2 from the Macdonaldtown Stabling, 4 from the Inner West Line, and 4 from the Bankstown Line.
Trains through the City Circle are then spaced out more evenly, so that the maximum headways on it drops to 6 minutes for anyone travelling clockwise around it, and 9 minutes for anyone travelling anti-clockwise around it. Both are an improvement on the current maximum of 12 minutes.
For the 2 lines that use the Harbour Bridge, an increase in the number of services from 6 to 8 per hour means that the maximum wait between trains drops from the current 15 minutes, to 9 minutes heading South from Chatswood and 11 minutes heading North from Redfern. All of these services now stop at Waverton and Wollstonecraft, meaning these 2 stations see their frequencies double from 4 to 8 trains per hour and maximum headways drop from 15 minutes to 9 or 11 minutes (depending on direction).
Headways for the Eastern Suburbs Line remain unchanged at 10 minutes. However, this 6 trains per hour frequency currently ends at around 9:00PM, after which it reverts to a 4 trains per hour frequency with 15 minute headways. The 10 minute headways will instead continue right up to 11:00PM.
Airport & East Hills Line
An additional 2 hourly services are added to the Airport Line, one reaches Kingsgrove and the other reaches Campbelltown. Though Kingsgrove gains one new services, it loses 2 existing services, which now skip Kingsgrove in order to reduce travel times for those in outer suburban stations. This makes Kingsgrove the only loser on this line.
Stations between Campbelltown and Holsworthy, other than Macquarie Fields, see a big decrease in travel times and gain an additional hourly service. Maximum headways remain half hourly. The other main winners are stations on the Airport Line, who see maximum headways drop from 15 minutes to 9 minutes thanks to the increase from 6 to 8 trains per hour.
The main change here is an extension of 15 minute frequencies from Central to Bankstown, which currently revert to half hourly frequencies after 8:30PM. The 15 minute frequencies will instead continue until 9:30PM.
Inner West Line
Services on the Inner West Line follow a more regular clockface timetable, meaning a more regular 15 minute gap between services, rather than gaps as long as 20 minutes at Croydon despite it having 4 trains per hour. Homebush sees a doubling in its frequency.
Liverpool, Warwick Farm, and Cabramatta are probably the only winners on the South Line, which thanks to more even service spacing and fewer stops made by its trains will see shorter maximum headways and quicker journeys into the CBD.
Most stations are unchanged, and retain their half hourly services during the middle of the day.
The main losers are Granville and Flemington, which both see reduced frequencies and longer maximum headways, while Granville also loses its fast trains to the city. Meanwhile, Auburn and Lidcombe have their maximum headways increased, but only by 1 minute.
Not included in the table above are the new Cumberland Line services. These increase train frequencies to 4 per hour between Campbelltown and Merrylands for anyone going to Liverpool or to Campbelltown. But with maximum headways of 25 minutes, it is not much of an improvement of the current 30 minute headways, and is a lost opportunity for a frequent non-CBD rail service. Compare this to the Cumberland Lines’ impact between Blacktown and Harris Park, where it has reduced maximum headways for Parramatta bound trains from 30 to 17 minutes.
North Shore Line
No major changes. It retains its even 15 minute headways.
The big winners here are stations from Doonside to Penrith, thanks to an additional 2 trains per hour. This provides stations between Doonside and Penrith with 4 trains per hour, which translates to maximum headways of 17 minutes, while also greatly reducing travel times from these stations into Central. Seven Hills, Blacktown, and Parramatta also see a significant drop in travel times. It is now possible to get a train any time of the day at either Parramatta or Central every 15 minutes and be at the other station in 27 minutes.
However, differing stopping patterns for trains to and from Penrith mean that they both arrive and depart from Central with 3 and 27 minute headways. So for off peak return journeys from the CBD, there remains an almost half hour wait for the next train between most services.
Western Line/Cumberland Line (to Parramatta)
The return of the Cumberland Line has boosted frequencies on stations near Parramatta from 2 to 4 trains per hour. In the case of Toongabbie, Pendle Hill, Wentworthville, and Harris Park, this means maximum headways of 17 minutes. Its extension onto the Richmond Line as far as Schofields has reduced headways there down to 21 minutes. In both cases, it also allows passengers to board a Cumberland Line train and then disembark and walk across the platform at somewhere like Seven Hills or Westmead for a fast train into the CBD, which remains a faster alternative than waiting for the next direct train.
The addition of 2 extra trains per hour through to the CBD makes the Northern Line the other big winner during the off peak. All stations North of Strathfield see an increase in their frequencies, and a drop in maximum headways – in most cases from 30 minutes to 15 minutes. In addition, a better arrangement of trains at Strathfield and Burwood stations means that passengers are less likely to skip a train because a subsequent train will arrive at Central first. This effectively increases frequencies by 2 trains per hour at Strathfield and Burwood, while Strathfield also benefits from an extra 4 trains per hour added to the timetable (2 from Epping and 2 from Penrith).
Jannali, Oatley, Allawah, and Carlton benefit from shorter journey times, generally 3-4 minutes shorter, while all but Jannali also see a doubling of their frequencies from 2 to 4 trains per hour, reducing maximum headways to 16 minutes. Mortdale is the main loser, dropping from 6 to 4 trains per hour and adding up to 2 minutes to journeys, but with maximum headways only increasing slightly from 15 to 16 minutes.
Kograh and Rockdale, which lost direct access to stations South of Hurstville and express services to Central, retain both during the off peak.