Posts Tagged ‘Electrification’

The Richmond Line had been partly electrified through to Riverstone in 1975, and was finally electrified all the way to the terminus at Richmond in 1991. This completed the electrification of the suburban Cityrail network that had begun when Bradfield built the underground city subways in the 1920s and the Sydney Harbour Bridge in the 1930s. The opening of the newly electrified line was covered by Nine News on the day, video ois included below.


Despite being electrified, the line remained single track. Back in 1991 it shared this dubious claim with the Carlingford and Cronulla Lines. Since then the Cronulla Line has been fully duplicated and the Richmond Line partly duplicated (through to Schofields as of 2011). Riverstone, Mulgrave and Richmond Stations have 2 platforms, which act as passing loops to allow trains to travel in both directions despite there being only a single track. However, the large amount of single track remaining on the line means that the Richmond Line remains limited to only 2 trains per hour through to the Richmond Station terminus.

It seems I missed a few events in the East Hills Line between 1932 and 1987, so I’ll start off by covering those.

The East Hills Line was first opened in 1931, consisting of an electrified double track between Tempe and Kingsgrove, then a single non-electrified track between Kingsgrove through to East Hills. The line was fully electrified in 1939 and duplication extended from Kingsgrove through to Riverwood in 1948.

Cityrail network map, prior to the East Hills Line extension. Technically it was called State Rail at the time, not Cityrail. (Source: Historical NSW Railway Timetables)

Cityrail network map, prior to the East Hills Line extension. Technically it was called State Rail at the time, not Cityrail. (Source: Historical NSW Railway Timetables)

The line between Riverwood and East Hills remained single track until 1987, when it would be duplicated as part of the extension of the line to meet up with the South Line at Glenfield. This allowed East Hills Line trains to go all the way between Campbelltown or Macarthur in Sydney’s Southwest through to the Sydney CBD. The new line was opened on December 21, 1987 by then NSW Premier Barrie Unsworth (see video below).


Next week: electrification of the Richmond line.

When the new Eastern Suburbs Line was finally completed in 1979 and connected to the Illawarra Line, the NSW government made the decision to fully electrify the line down to Wollongong. The Illawarra Line itself was fully electrified through to Sutherland, at which point it split in two directions, one towards Cronulla (fully electrified) where it terminated and the other towards Wollongong. The latter diverged, at Loftus, with one line continuing through to Wollongong and the other veering East towards the Royal National Park. Only the line to the Royal National Park was electrified (more on this below).

Electrification of the line occurred in two stages. The first, between Loftus and Waterfall (currently marking the edge of the Cityrail suburban network), was completed in 1980. The second, between Waterfall and Wollongong, would be completed in 1985.

The National Park Line consisted of a single station: Royal National Park, from which the line derived its name. It ran until 1991, when low patronage caused it to be closed. A few years later, in 1993, the track was given to the Sydney Tramway Museum, which today runs vintage trams from Australia and overseas on the track. If you’re from Sydney, it’s worth a visit. Below is a photo of me when I went earlier this year.

Glenelg Tram

Me on an Adelaide Glenelg tram at the Sydney Tramway Museum on 17 July 2011. Click on image for higher resolution. (Source: Author)

Next week: Blacktown to St Marys Quadruplication.

Transport Sydney has a new look. After two and a half months, I thought the old layout was becoming a bit hard to read and so I’ve opted for something a bit better. Hope you like it. Also, from today I’m going to change from one post every 3 days to 3 posts per week: Mondays (History of Cityrail), Wednesdays (news) and Fridays (a new feature called Best of the Rest where I link you to another blog/news post that I found interesting). Being a Monday, let’s get started with some History of Cityrail…

The Richmond Line was built in 1864 and though it has been upgraded multiple times over the years, it remains to be “completed” in the sense that a significant portion of it has yet to be duplicated. The line was actually extended to Kurrajong in the Blue Mountains in 1926 before this extension was closed in 1952.

Following the electrification of the South Line to Campbelltown in 1968, the Richmond Line was one of only two sections of the suburban network to not be electrified (the other, between Loftus and Waterfall, would be electrified in 1980). This was partly remedied in 1975 when the line between Blacktown and Riverstone was electrified. Further electrification and duplication upgrades would be completed in 1991, 2002 and 2011.

Electrification of the South Line was partly completed in the 1920s, with the line through to Liverpool electrified in 1929. This allowed electric trains to run from the City into Liverpool either via Granville, Regents Park or Bankstown. The East Hills Line, which today connects up to the South Line at Glenfield, terminated at East Hills Station until the two were connected in 1987. Therefore everything South of Liverpool was non-electric Southern Highlands trains only.

Electric trains services came to Southwest Sydney in 1968, when the track between Liverpool and Campbelltown was electrified. Macarthur Station (the next station to the South of Campbelltown) which today designates the end of the suburban network on this line and also the extent of electric train services on it, was not constructed until 1985.

The Carlingford Line had been partly electrified up to Rosehill in 1936, with the rest of the line through to Carlingford Station being converted to electric in 1959. The line between Rosehill and Carlingford consisted of a single track with no passing loops and also includes a station for the UWS Parramatta campus. As a result of having only one track, services on the line remain extremely limited, with only a single 3 carriage service per hour operating as a shuttle between Clyde and Carlingford.

A number of proposals have been made over the years involving this line:

1. The line would form the bulk of a future Parramatta to Epping Rail Link, with underground portions linking Epping to Carlingford and Parramatta to Camellia. The line would be upgraded to dual track as part of this proposal. This idea has been seriously floated as far back as the Carr Labor government’s 1998 Action for Transport plan and most recently by the Keneally Labor government’s 2010 Metropolitan Transport Plan that would complete the Parramatta to Chatswood connection originally proposed in the 1998 plan. The election of the O’Farrell Liberal government in 2011 put this plan on ice, choosing to focus instead on the Northwest Rail Link.

Cityrail Map 2000

A map of the Cityrail network from the year 2000. The proposed Parramatta to Chatswood Rail Link can be seen, and is shown as an extension of the Carlingford Line. (Source: Historical NSW Railway Timetables)

2. The construction of a passing loop was initially included as part of the Cityrail Clearways program to increase capacity on existing lines, before being quietly dropped. Such a passing loop would probably double the capacity of the line to 2 services per hour, but without the expensive exercise of building double track the whole way along the line.

3. UTS academic Garry Glazebrook has suggested converting the line to light rail and for the Southern end to link up to Parramatta rather than Clyde. Given the low capacity nature of this line, it would allow for frequent services along this line that would take commits directly to Parramatta, forming the base of a future Western Sydney light rail network. Doing so would require any Parramatta to Epping Rail Link to go entirely underground, probably following an alignment along Pennant Hills Road.

The Western Line began as the Sydney to Parramatta railway, opened in 1855. This was extended out to Blacktown in 1860, to Penrith in 1863 and through the Blue Mountains by 1869. The line was electrified between Sydney CBD and Parramatta in 1928, at the same time as many other lines in the Cityrail network. The remainder of the line, between Parramatta and Penrith, would not be electrified until 1955. The Richmond Line, which connected to the Western Line at Blacktown, would not be electrified until 1991, though it was partly electrified in 1975.

There’s not a lot for me to say on this, so I’m going to talk a bit about closed lines on the Western Line (between Parramatta and Penrith, to keep on theme). Historically, there were three lines built that connected to the Western Line that would later be closed.

The first was a freight line between Toongabbie and Prospect which opened in 1902 and closed in 1945.

Another was the Ropes Creek Line, which connected up to St Marys, and was opened in the 1940s during World War 2 to service a weapons factory. The Ropes Creek Line was closed in the 1980s.

Finally is the Rogan’s Hill Line, which began as a steam tramway between Parramatta and Baulkham Hills that was opened in 1902 (later extended to Castle Hill in 1910). The tramway went up Church Street in Parramatta towards Northmead, before taking Windsor Road to Baulkham Hills and then Old Northern Road to Castle Hill. The tramway was converted to heavy rail in 1923, with a new section of the line constructed between Westmead and Northmead, then following the tramway route through to Castle Hill. Like the tramway, the rail line was single track. It was extended to Rogan’s Hill in 1924, giving the line it’s name. This line didn’t last long, and competition from buses caused it to close down in 1931, eventually allowing Windsor Road and Old Northern Roads to be widened. Today, the M60 and 600 bus roughly follows the original tramway route between Parramatta and Castle Hill.

Until the Northwest Rail Link is completed, the Rogan’s Hill Line remains the only instance of rail in Sydney’s Northwest. While the Northwest Rail Link follows a completely different alignment to the Rogan’s Hill Line (really they only intersect at Castle Hill, one is East-West and the other is North-South), there does exist a proposal to build a line that roughly follows the Rogan’s Hill alignment. This would be an underground line from Parramatta to Castle Hill via Northmead and Baulkham Hills (with probable stations at North Parramatta and Winston Hills) and last received a voice from the Parramatta Council when it tried to push for an amended Northwest Rail Link that went via Parramatta. This proposal never got off the ground, for reasons which I will cover in the future.

Rail to Cronulla dates back to 1911, when a steam tram line between Sutherland and Cronulla opened for passenger service. This single track service operated until 1931.

A Sutherland-Cronulla tram

This picture shows one of the Sutherland to Cronulla steam trams, taken in the 1920s in Sutherland. (Source: Wikipedia)

Construction on the current heavy rail line began in 1936 and was completed in 1939. As with all new suburban lines since electrification was begun, this line was electric from day 1. Like the tram line before it, this was also a single track line, with passing loops at Gymea and Caringbah. It would eventually be extended to dual track, first between Gymea and Caringbah in 1985, and then the rest of the line in 2010 as part of Cityrail’s Clearways project.

Interestingly, Cronulla station itself retains only a single platform, but one that has capacity for 2 trains. One half of the platform is designated as platform 1 and the other half designated as platform 2. It is designed so that trains can arrive and depart from each of these two “platforms” independently of each other. This is unique to Cronulla station in the suburban cityrail network.

The bulk of the Cityrail suburban network had been electrified by the time the Harbour Bridge was opened in 1932.  However, complete electrification would take a further 59 years (edit: thanks to Jim for pointing out my typo), occurring in bits an pieces with about one line being electrified every 10 years.

Tracks diverging at Rosehill

The two tracks just North of the Rosehill Station can be seen here. The track on the left continues North to Camellia Station, just past the bridge. The track on the right veers right and continues East, parallel to the bridge that can be seen here. (Source: Author)

The next line to be electrified was the Carlingford Line. However, this happened in two stages: Clyde to Rosehill in 1936, then Rosehill to Carlingford (and Rosehill to Sandown) in 1959. I will cover the rest of the Carlingford Line as part of the 1959 electrification post. The line has dual tracks between Clyde and Rosehill, after which a single track continued North to Carlingford and another went East to Sandown through the industrial park. The first stage of electrification allowed electric trains to be run up to Rosehill station, which is adjacent to the Rosehill Racecourse, rather than having passengers have to take a steam train.

The Sandown Line and its 4 stations, used mostly by the workers along Grand Avenue in Camellia, would eventually be closed to passenger trains in 1990. Today it is used as a freight line, serving the warehouses and distribution centres. This portion of track has a level crossing, and there is usually a freight train that goes through there daily at around 6PM. If you happen to be driving along there at that hour, you can get stuck for about 20 minutes waiting for the freight train to pass. I know this from personal experience.

Tracks crossing Grand Ave

The tracks on the old Sandown Line cross Grand Avenue from North to South. The Shell oil refinery can be seen in the distance, as can some rail cars on the left used for transporting oil. I have been stuck behind a slow moving freight train using this crossing on more than one occasion. (Source: Author)

Post Script: Jim points out two things in the comments below. One is that Richmond was not electrified until 1991, making the period 59 year. I made a calculation error in working out the number of years between 1932 to 1991 and wrote down 49 years by mistake. This has now been corrected. The other is that as of 2010, freight trains no longer use the Sandown Line. I’ll have to take Jim at his word, though I will say that the last time I saw one on it was in mid 2009, which is consistent with what he says.

I’ve been doing a lot of reading about the Cityrail network recently, as part of my research on planned future extensions. I also got to see it all as part of my Cityrail Challenge. In doing so, I started learning a bit about the history of the Cityrail network and have decided to start an ongoing series entitled the “History of Cityrail”.

Today I will provide a brief introduction through to the completion of the Harbour Bridge in 1932, and then every second post will sequentially detail the changes to the nextwork through to the present day.

Sydney Harbour Bridge

You can see the two rail tracks on the right which connected Central to North Sydney across the Sydney Harbour Bridge. The two lanes on the left (one is now a bus lane) were initially tram lanes that were eventually be converted to heavy rail to take trains to the Northern Beaches. This line never eventuated, so when the tram lines were removed, they were converted to car lanes. (Source: Wikipedia)

The history of Cityrail dates back to 1855, when the line between Sydney (now between Central and Redfern stations) and Parramatta (now Granville) opened, today part of the Western Line. Over the following 70 years, additional lines were built going West from Granville to Penrith and Richmond (the Western Line), South from Granville to Campbelltown (the South Line), North from Strathfield to Hornsby (the Northern Line) and back South to North Sydney (the North Shore Line), South from Sydney to Sutherland (the Illawarra Line), and West from Sydney to Bankstown (the Bankstown Line).

The late 1920s to early 1930s saw an expansion of Sydney’s rail network in 2 significant ways. First, it began to be electrified, with electric trains replacing steam engines, allowing them to enter underground subway portions of track. This was critical for the second addition: a CBD subway system that would also link up Central Station on the Southern end of Sydney’s CBD to North Sydney on the North Shore Line via a new bridge over Sydney Harbour. During this time a rail line to the East Hills was also built, the first electric line to be built as electric from the start rather than converted.

In charge of this was engineer Dr John Bradfield, who is today famous for overseeing the design and construction of the Harbour Bridge and is considered as the father of Sydney’s modern rail system. The Great Depression and Second World War brought an end to his plans to continue building the network, which also included an Eastern Suburbs Railway (a shortened version of which eventually opened in 1979), a rail line going West through Rozelle before roughly following Parramatta Road and a rail line to the Northern Beaches that would use the 2 Eastern Lanes on the Harbour Bridge that were initially used by trams.

For anyone interested in historical maps of the Cityrail network, I highly recommend the Netzplan website. It has old maps of the network, both as originally designed and as they would look in today’s design.

Next time: the Clyde to Rosehill electrification.