Proposed railways in Sydney: Wikis


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Various railway lines have been proposed for Sydney, Australia, including both heavy rail extensions to the existing network, and more recently proposals for metro style lines.


Bradfield railway scheme, 1920s

The original railway network for Sydney planned by John Bradfield

John Bradfield, engineer and designer of the Sydney Harbour Bridge, had a grand vision for Sydney's railway system that has only been partly fulfilled. After joining the New South Wales Public Works Department in 1891, he submitted a report in 1915 calling for the electrification of the suburban railways, a city underground railway and the Harbour Bridge. World War I led to the collapse of all three proposals, and it was not until 1922 that the Bridge Bill passed through Parliament, and 1923 until the first sod was turned on the city railway.[1]

Bradfield's overall concept called for the construction of a network of underground city railway lines in association with the construction of the Sydney Harbour Bridge and a new rail terminal, Central. A larger network of lines was proposed for the western, eastern and southern suburbs (see map) however most of these lines remained concepts only and have never been constructed. The Depression, and later World War II, along with the growth of the motor car lead to passenger numbers in Bradfield's plan being grossly overestimated. Parts of the city underground were constructed and exist as the present day City Circle, with small sections built for the additional proposed city lines such as additional platforms at Wynyard and St James stations which have never been used for heavy rail transport. The underground city loop was constructed originally as a stub line to St James, and the line through Town Hall and Wynyard to the Harbour Bridge. It was not until 1955 that the loop was completed by the construction of Circular Quay station. A line to the eastern suburbs was eventually built, but along a different alignment to that envisaged by Bradfield, who proposed a line along Oxford Street.

Sydney Area Transportation Study, 1974

Existing and proposed railways, Sydney Region Outline Plan 1968

In 1968, the State Planning Authority of New South Wales released the Sydney Region Outline Plan, which was to guide the development of Sydney for the period 1970-2000. In particular, it aimed to develop new growth corridors to areas such as Green Valley, Campbelltown and Blacktown.[2] This was followed in 1974 by the Sydney Area Transportation Study which proposed several new rail lines in the new growth areas as well as several new lines to ease congestion in the established areas of Sydney.[3] The proposed lines were:

  • a line linking Parramatta and Windsor via the Hills district,
  • a line between Merrylands and Green Valley,
  • a line to the Northern beaches, including a new underground section through Crows Nest,
  • the complete Eastern suburbs line to Kingsford, already under construction at the time but later truncated to Bondi Junction (opened 1979),
  • an extension of the East Hills line from East Hills to Glenfield (later constructed and opened in 1987),
  • an express line between Redfern and Parramatta, running parallel but north of the existing Main Suburban line,
  • a line connecting the Bankstown line at Sydenham with Redfern via Mascot and Alexandria, with a possible future branch to the airport,
  • an extension of the Carlingford line to meet the Main North line at Beecroft, with an intermediate station,
  • a connection between the Carlingford line at Rosehill and Parramatta

The rail plans also involved significant duplication and quadruplication of existing lines. Despite extensive modelling, the vast majority of the proposals outlined were not constructed.

Eastern Suburbs Railway, 1960-70s

See also :Eastern Suburbs railway line, Sydney

In 1967, the NSW government recommenced construction on the dormant Eastern Suburbs line that had been partly constructed and had laid dormant since 1952. The original proposal was for a line to Kingsford via Bondi Junction, Randwick and the University of New South Wales. In 1976, the project was curtailed to Bondi Junction, and the full line to Kingsford was not constructed.

MetroWest proposal, 1990

In 1990, the State Rail Authority undertook a feasibility study into the development of a new underground line along the western edge of the Central Business District. Called MetroWest, the proposal called for the construction of a new underground line between Redfern and Wynyard along the western edge of the CBD with a new underground station complex at Central station, new stations in the Haymarket and Market street areas, and terminating at a remodelled Wynyard station. The proposal would include platforms suitable to fit longer InterUrban passenger trains from the Central and South Coasts and the Blue Mountains, running through the new line in lieu of terminating at Central.[4] The line underwent a two year feasibility study and the corridor remains protected for possible future development[5] with planning buffers placed along the corridor in 2006,[6] however plans presently remain unrealised.

Action for Transport 2010, 1998

Map of proposed lines under the Action for Transport 2010 plan, 1998.

In 1998, the NSW government released a position paper on various road and public transport projects to be delivered before 2010. The rail projects envisaged were:

  • the Airport Line, already under construction at the time and completed in 2000
  • an extension of the Eastern Suburbs line to Bondi beach, to be completed by 2002
  • the Parramatta Rail Link between Parramatta and Chatswood by 2006 (the Epping to Chatswood section was completed in early 2009)
  • a Hornsby to Newcastle High Speed Rail line to have started by 2010
  • a North West Rail Link between Epping and Castle Hill by 2010
  • a Sutherland to Wollongong High Speed Rail by 2010
  • a Hurstville to Strathfield railway line to start by 2010 and be completed in 2014
  • a Liverpool 'Y Link' to start by 2010

Three projects were listed for consideration as additions after 2010:[7]

  • a line to the Warringah Peninsula
  • an extended Eastern Suburbs line towards Maroubra
  • an extension of the North West railway line towards Rouse Hill

Of these proposals, only the ones already under construction or advanced planning (the Airport line and the Epping- Chatswood section of the Parramatta Rail Link) are or will be completed. Most of the proposed roads and motorways outlined in the same paper have been constructed however.

Bondi Beach railway, 1996-7

In 1996, the NSW government proposed a privately funded extension of the Eastern Suburbs railway from Bondi Junction to Bondi Beach. The final proposed version of the line would have seen a single track extension ending in a station under Bondi Beach park, with a premium (extra $2.50 proposed) added to ticket prices. The Bondi Beach Railway Company, owned by Lend Lease Infrastructure and the Macquarie Bank, proposed to build and maintain the railway at a cost of $197 million and to operate it for a 30-year term.[8] The proposal met with fierce opposition from local residents who were concerned with the loss of parkland, fare premium, and little potential use by residents.[9] After a degree of planning and gaining Federal Government backing, the proposal was dropped in 1999.

'Christie' proposals, 2002

Partial diagram of possible 2050 network under the proposed Christie report

In 2002, the Co-ordinator General of Rail, Ron Christie, released a report, the Long-Term Strategic Plan for Rail for Sydney, the Central Coast, Newcastle, the Illawarra, the South Coast and the Blue Mountains, which outlined the critical infrastructure that would need to be built between then and 2050 to ensure the long-term survival and operation of the CityRail network.[10] Christie's report suggested that several "metro" lines should be built to service new areas and to relieve capacity on existing lines. In particular, Christie suggested lines:[11]

Western FastRail

Western FastRail was a privately operated underground rail tunnel proposed to run between the Sydney CBD and Parramatta, a distance of 26 km, with the high-speed link continuing to Penrith on the outskirts of Sydney. First introduced in 2004 by a consortium of Dutch bank ABN AMRO and developer Leighton Holdings, the project, dubbed the Penrith High Speed Link, was again floated in December 2006 and received favourable comments by the New South Wales State Government,[12] and was offered funding by Federal Opposition Leader Kevin Rudd should the Australian Labor Party win the 2007 Federal Election.[13]

The proposed link would ease congestion along the main West-East corridor and reduce the current 29 minute service into the city to just 12 minutes. The service would operate in conjunction with RailCorp, and would use CityRail's existing railway stations and ticketing system, but with an extra fee on top of the normal CityRail ticket price (at approximately $9.90 a trip including a $3.10 surcharge). The train fleet and rail infrastructure would be built and maintained by a private company. The line has been estimated to cost $5 billion.[12]

Metropolitan Rail Expansion Programme, 2005

On 15 June 2005, NSW Premier Bob Carr shortly before his resignation announced the Metropolitan Rail Expansion Programme (MREP). The MREP consisted of three new rail connections:

Estimated to cost about A$8 billion, $5 billion of which was for the building of a new tunnel under the Sydney Harbour Bridge and the Sydney central business district, (called the CBD Rail Link). Under this plan, the north-west suburbs would be served by the North West Rail Link by 2017, the new south-west suburbs would be linked to the network via the South West Rail Link by 2015, and the rail line would pass through the new growth corridor from Ryde to the airport. Critics of the New South Wales government have criticised what they perceive as a lack of follow through, citing the previously planned Parramatta to Chatswood rail link which has since been truncated to link only Epping to Chatswood, with the Epping to Parramatta portion postponed indefinitely.

It would also have included quadruplicated tracks between St Leonards and Chatswood on the North Shore line. In 2006, Premier Morris Iemma placed planning buffers along two potential corridors in the CBD (the MetroWest and MetroPitt routes) to secure future accessibility.[6] Developers who want to excavate deeper than two metres within a 25-metre buffer zone of the corridors will need to seek RailCorp's approval.


North West Rail Link (NWRL)

North West Rail Link

After its original announcement in 1998 for completion in 2010 as part of the Action for Transport 2010 plan, in 2006 the schedule was revised for completion in 2017 and later brought forward to a staged plan for train services to Castle Hill and Hills Centre in 2015, and to Rouse Hill by 2017. It was planned to be 22 kilometres in length, consisting of a 16 kilometre section in tunnel from Epping to the proposed Burns Road Station, followed by a 4 kilometre section above ground from Burns Road to Rouse Hill. Six new stations were proposed to be constructed at Franklin Road, Castle Hill, Hills Centre, Norwest, Burns Road and Rouse Hill. A train stabling facility was proposed at the north west of Rouse Hill Town Centre. The NWRL was to connect with the Epping to Chatswood Rail Link through a direct tunnel between Epping and Franklin Road stations, although an original proposal connected with the existing Northern Line north of Cheltenham.[14] The direct route was to use the stub tunnels originally built for the deferred Parramatta Rail Link between Parramatta and Epping.[14] New stub tunnels for the Parramatta Rail Link were to be constructed so that if the Parramatta line were completed, trains from Parramatta would have also been able to link into the Epping-Chatswood Line.[14]

It was proposed that the NWRL would offer an off peak rail service of four trains per hour, with six to eight trains per hour in peak periods and is expected to carry six to eight million passengers per year.

In 2008, the North West rail line was superseded by the now-cancelled North West Metro (see below).

South West Rail Link

The South West Rail Link was announced as part of the Metropolitan Rail Expansion Programme to cater to the "South West Growth Centre". It was to consist of a 12-kilometre, twin-track railway running from Leppington and Edmondson Park to connect with the South line at Glenfield. The project also included a train stabling facility to the west of the new Leppington station, and a redesigned and expanded Glenfield station with flyovers to connect with the East Hills line.

On 31 October 2008, the Premier revealed that the South West Rail Link was to be 'indefinitely shelved' due to budetary constraints, and only an upgrade of the Glenfield Station car park is to proceed.[15]

CBD Rail link

The third component to the MREP was the CBD Rail link, a new underground railway line starting at Redfern Station, travelling under the Central Business District and under Sydney Harbour, through the Northern Sydney suburbs and ending at the existing Chatswood railway station. The six kilometre cross-tunnel was slated to cost $5 billion and was to include new or expanded stations at Redfern, Central, Pitt Street, Martin Place, Circular Quay, Victoria Cross, Crows Nest, St Leonards, Artarmon and Chatswood.[16]

On 13 September 2007, it looked unlikely that the New South Wales government would commit to the line when they announced a proposal for a metro line that would span the harbour, the Anzac Line. (see below) On 19 March 2008 the State Government announced that the line would be on hold after construction begins on the North West Metro in 2010, its role to be partly superseded by that railway line.[17] In October 2008, the North West Metro line itself was cancelled and replaced with a shorter CBD metro which would partly follow the alignment of the CBD Rail Link.

Metro Proposals, 2008

See also: North West Metro, CBD Metro, West Metro and Anzac Line
Map showing Anzac Line, 2007.

Anzac Line

In 2007, the NSW government announced the concept of an underground metro line between West Ryde and Malabar. The line would have started at West Ryde station on the Northern Line before travelling beneath Victoria Road through Top Ryde, Gladesville, Drummoyne, Rozelle and Pyrmont . The line would then pass through existing city stations at Wynyard, Martin Place and St. James, before heading south beneath Anzac Parade to Moore Park, the University of New South Wales in Kensington, Maroubra Junction and Malabar.[18][19] No detailed design or planning was performed, and the western leg of the line (between West Ryde and the city) was adapted into planning for the North West Metro in 2008 (see below).

North West Metro

Map showing North West Metro, 2008

In early 2008, the NSW State government announced plans to build a metro line between the North West suburbs of Sydney and the CBD. Known as the North West Metro, the line would have superseded the North West Line which was to built as part of the Metropolitan Rail Expansion Programme, and included a new section between Epping and the CBD via Gladesville, approximately along the course of Victoria Road. Controversial from the start,[20] the line was criticised for being too long, too expensive, and inaproppriate for a low density suburban area.

The North West Metro was to have been 37 kilometres in length, with 32 kilometres underground and 5 kilometres above ground. The line was likely to have been operated without drivers. The North West Metro would have incorporate the alignment and stations previously proposed by the North West Rail Link but included the additional benefits of directly linking the North West with Gladesville, Drummoyne, Pyrmont and the CBD. There were proposed to be 17 new metro stations at St. James, Martin Place, Wynyard, Pyrmont, Rozelle, Drummoyne, Henley, Gladesville, Top Ryde, Denistone East, Epping, Cherrybrook, Castle Hill, Hills Centre, Norwest, Kellyville and Rouse Hill.

According to the State Government press release announcing the North West Metro project, the metro line was to offer a rail service of one train every four to five minutes (three minutes during peak hours). However, there was debate[21] as to whether advertised point-to-point transit times may have been too optimistic. It was to have run on conventional standard gauge track, similar to the existing CityRail network, but with single deck rolling stock.[22]

In October 2008, the NSW Premier cast doubts upon the likelihood of constructing the North West Metro, and instead proposed a short metro line between Central station and Rozelle via Town Hall and East Darling Harbour (Barangaroo), with the potential for further westwards extension to Macquarie Park and Epping.[23] On 31 October 2008, the Premier announced that the North West Metro would not proceed due to budgetary constraints.[15]

CBD Metro

Indicative map

On October 23, 2008, Premier Nathan Rees announced the CBD Metro, a shortened version of the North West Metro which would run from Rozelle to Central stations. It was submitted to Infrastructure Australia for funding, with construction proposed to commence in 2010. It was also announced that the line may be extended to link from Rozelle Station to Epping & Macquarie Park in the future. In December 2008, the project was placed on a short-list of projects to be funded by Infrastructure Australia's Building Australia Fund.[24 ]

West Metro

Indicative map of the West Metro

After the announcement of the North West Metro, the State Government announced concepts for a metro line through the Inner Western suburbs of Sydney (to be known as the West Metro), and the potential for a South East Metro along the route of the before-mentioned Anzac Line beneath Anzac Parade. Like the CBD Metro, the West Metro was placed on a short-list of projects to be funded by Infrastructure Australia's Building Australia Fund.[24 ] in December 2008.

It remains to be seen whether any of these metro proposals will come to fruition.

2031 Sydney Transport Blueprint, 2009

In 2009 the Sydney Morning Herald revealed plans for a Sydney Transport Blueprint which the deposed NSW Premier Nathan Rees was to release in December 2009. The proposal was to include:

  • the West Metro from Westmead to the city
  • a metro to the south-eastern suburbs of Randwick, Kensington, the UNSW, Kingsford and Maroubra.
  • a heavy rail link to the Hills District in the north-west.
  • completing the missing rail link between Parramatta and Epping.
  • a metro from Olympic Park to Hurstville.
  • a CityRail CBD relief line under the city.
  • Radial transport links into Parramatta.

The proposals were to cost $180 billion over 25 years.[25]

See also


  1. ^ Spearritt, P. Sydney's Century: A History. Accessed 4 February, 2008.
  2. ^ Meyer, B. Future Sydney, a City of Cities. UWS. Accessed 26 October 2008.
  3. ^ Gunn, J. Along parallel Lines, a History of the NSW railways 1850-1986. Melbourne University Press, 1989.
  4. ^ New Underground planned for Sydney's West. Network, the Railways of Australia Quarterly. Vol 27, no 4, October 1990.
  5. ^ "Iemma Government locks in future city rail corridors". Sydney Metropolitan Strategy. NSW Government - Department of Planning. 2006-02-18. Retrieved 2007-01-24.  
  6. ^ a b "Rail routes sealed off". Hill Shire Times. 2006-02-20. Retrieved 2007-01-24.  
  7. ^ Sydney's Latest Transport Strategy: Action for Transport 2010. Transit Australia, Vol 54 No 2, February 1999.
  8. ^ Eastern Suburbs Railway Australasian Tunnelling Society, accessed 23 October 2008.
  9. ^ Bondi beach heavy rail Plan. Sydney Indie media, accessed 23 October 2008.
  10. ^ Christie, Ron, "Long-term strategic plan for rail: overview report: Greater Sydney metropolitan region" - Chapter 4.4, Action for Public Transport New South Wales, June 2001. Accessed 11 January 2007.
  11. ^ Christie Report. Action for Public Transport NSW, accessed 28 October 2008.
  12. ^ a b Sun, Matt, Idea has wheels: Premium service may yet be viable, mX, December 19, 2006, p.1
  13. ^ Hildebrand, Joe, Rudd's road and rail cash, Daily Telegraph, December 19, 2006, Accessed 20 December 2006.
  14. ^ a b c New South Wales Government, TIDC North West Rail Link - Preferred Project Report Volume 1 May 2007. Accessed 18 March 2008.
  15. ^ a b Benson, S. Northwest Metro rail link officially shelved Daily Telegraph, 31 October 2008.
  16. ^ "Revealed: the harbour tunnel to ease rail crisis". The Sydney Morning Herald. 2005-06-09. Retrieved 2007-01-24.  
  17. ^ Besser L and Smith A. City catches fast-tracked metro. Sydney Morning Herald, 19 March 2008.
  18. ^ Besser, Linton, "Going underground", Sydney Morning Herald, 14 September 2007, p. 1.
  19. ^ Besser, Linton, New east-west line may cut congestion, Sydney Morning Herald, 14 September 2007. Accessed 14 September 2007.
  20. ^ Mason, L. We're not going anywhere with expensive metro systems Sydney Morning Herald, October 2008
  21. ^ "Metro will be too fast to get on", Sydney Morning Herald, Monday, March 31, 2008
  22. ^ "Premier Iemma unveils Sydney’s first Euro-style metro rail project" (PDF). Premier of New South Wales Department. 2008-03-18.  
  23. ^ Smith, A. Tunnel vision and its last stop, Rozelle. Sydney Morning Herald, 25 October 2008.
  24. ^ a b Besser, L. Sydney shortlisted for billions, Sydney Morning Herald, 19 December 2008.
  25. ^ West, A.Rail plan for decades ahead now in doubt Sydney Morning Herald, 4 December 2009.


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