Posts Tagged ‘History of Cityrail’

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.

The Cronulla Line, while electrified since it opened in 1939, remained almost entirely single track. Instead there were crossing loops at Gymea and Caringbah stations, each roughly at one third intervals between Cronulla and Sutherland stations, which allowed trains going in opposite directions to pass each other while at those two stations. The line between these two stations would eventually be duplicated in 1985, allowing trains to pass each other at any point in this middle third of the line.

Next week: the East Hills Line is extended to Glenfield on the South Line.

Up until 1980, the Western Line had 4 tracks as far out as Blacktown. This allowed trains to be separated into express and all stations services, each with its own line, without having to worry about express trains getting stuck behind slower all stations trains and unable to overtake them. From Blacktown, one track pair went Northwest towards Richmond and another track pair continued West to Penrith and the Blue Mountains.

The lack of a second track pair between Blacktown and Penrith made express services difficult, potentially adding 9 minutes to a train trip for Penrith commuters. This problem was solved in 1980, when the track between Blacktown and St Marys was quadruplicated, allowing the separation of trains depending on their stopping patterns.

There was one proposal to extend the quadruplication all the way to Penrith in 2002 when the Fast Rail Link was proposed. This would be a private sector project that would also construct a tunnel from Parramatta to the CBD, allowing a trip from Penrith to the CBD to be cut from 55 to 28 minutes. However, it would do so by gaining exclusive control of a track pair between Penrith and Westmead, before continuing though the underground tunnel. This would prevent the operation of express trains between Penrith and Parramatta on the remaining Cityrail track pair, forcing Penrith commuters that did not pay for the premium express service onto 84 minute all stop services. This, along with concerns that the $2.5 billion price tag was highly optimistic, ultimately led to the government rejecting the proposal.

Western Express

The Western Express is shown highlighted in yellow. The City Relief Line can be seen on the bottom right hand corner, running North through the CBD. Click on image for higher resolution. (Source: Metropolitan Transport Plan 2010)

A more recent proposal is the Western Express, first announced in February 2010 as part of the Metropolitan Transport Plan (which I wrote about here), it would involve the construction of the $4.5 billion City Relief Line, a new line between Redfern and Wynyard. This would then connect up to the “express” Western Line track pair (officially known as the Main West Line, with all stops trains using the Suburban West Line), allowing express trains to remain separated from all stops trains all the way to the Northern end of the CBD. Currently, interurban trains from the Blue Mountains and the Central Coast use the Main West Line, but terminate at Central Station as they still use V-Set trains, which are longer than suburban trains and do not fit into the shorter underground stations in the CBD. A City Relief Line would be expected to have longer platforms, and also potentially screen doors that are commonly found in Asian metro systems. The Western Express was deferred by the incoming O’Farrell Liberal Government earlier this year, but based on recently released draft plans this appears to have been a genuine deferral, rather than code for cancellation.

Next week: Gymea to Caringbah duplication.

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.

An Eastern Suburbs Railway was one of those originally proposed by John Bradfield that was cut short by the Great Depression and World War 2. An initial alignment had been set in 1926, which saw the line go North from underneath Railway Square next to Central Station up to Town Hall, before heading Northeast towards stations at Pitt Street and O’Connell Street, then going South to St James Station until it would head East roughly along Oxford Street towards Bondi Junction. Some initial construction was achieved, and a tunnel was partly built between Taylor Square and St James Station (though not reaching St James itself). If you look at the St James Station platform, you can see that it was actually designed to have 4 lines running through with 2 island platforms. Instead, today what would have been the two central lines form part of the one large platform.

Bradfield's original design

A map of John Bradfield’s original design for the Sydney underground railways. The Eastern Suburbs Line can be seen in purple. The Northern Beaches Line remains a pipe dream that will probably not be built in my lifetime. (Source: Wikipedia)

Plans to build the line surfaced again after World War 2 in 1947, this time on the Kings Cross alignment that it would eventually follow. Future plans for an extension to North Bondi and Rose Bay were also on the table this time. After another brief period of construction, the project was abandoned again in 1952.

A third attempt to build the Eastern Suburbs Line commenced in 1967. This time the line would extend South past Bondi Junction, going to Randwick and then Kingsford. However, the line would only get built as far as Bondi Junction, and a planned station at Woollahra was scrapped after opposition from local residents. A proposal to extend the line from Bondi Junction to Bondi Beach was floated by the NSW Carr government in 1999 and would likely have operated like the privately operated Airport Line, with an additional surcharge for users of the Bondi Beach station. This too was abandoned, probably in light of the poor financial performance of the Airport Line.

Eastern Suburbs Line extension proposals

A map of different extensions proposed to the Eastern Suburbs Line. The original 1967 route can be seen going South from Bondi Junction to Kinsford. The 1999 proposal extends East from Bondi Junction to Bondi Beach. (Source: Wikipedia)

The new line finally opened in 1979, with 6 stations: Central, Town Hall, Martin Place, Kings Cross, Edgecliff and Bondi Junction. Trains initially operated as a shuttle service between these stations, before the line was connected to the Illawarra Line down to Hurstville and Sutherland. This had the added benefit of removing Illawarra Line trains from the City Circle, improving congestion through the CBD railways. In fact, by adding an additional track pair (up until 1979 there were only 2 track pairs: City Circle and the North Shore/Western Line), the capacity through the CBD was increased by 50%.

However, the decision to truncate the line to Bondi Junction acted as a limit on this new capacity as Bondi Junction had not been designed as a terminus. It was therefore limited to 14 trains per hour, rather than the 20 trains per hour that would have been able to pass through it if it hadn’t been a terminus. This was finally resolved in 2006 when turnbacks were constructed at Bondi Junction Station as part of Cityrail’s Clearways program, finally allowing a full 20 trains per hour to pass through the line.

City Rail Plan 1912

A very early plan for the Sydney city underground railways. This plan pre-dates the CBD railway and the construction of Central Station. Plans can be seen for a line to the SCG (bottom left), Eastern Suburbs (bottom right) and Western Suburbs (top right). The map pretty much resembles the current network we have today, the exceptions being the unbuilt lines, the alignment of Central Station and the Eastern Suburbs Line linking up to the City Circle rather than to the Illawarra Line. Click on image for higher resolution. (Source: Proposed electric railways for the city of Sydney, JJ Bradfield.)

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.