From Academic Kids

CityRail is the name of the extensive system of urban, suburban and interurban passenger railways based on metropolitan Sydney, the capital city of the State of New South Wales, Australia. Its interurban lines also extend outside of metropolitan Sydney to Newcastle, the Blue Mountains, Southern Highlands, the Illawarra, the Shoalhaven, the Central Coast and the Hunter Valley. Despite the extensive service, CityRail is frequently criticised as not being up to standard with other systems (especially those in Europe and the wealthier countries of Asia), and CityRail is often perceived as having outdated infrastructure, old trains, poor customer service, unreliable timetables, pervasive crime and low levels of cleanliness.

Missing image
CityRail logo

Most of the system is electrified with 1500 V DC supplied by overhead wire; however, some isolated sections outside the Sydney metropolitan area are still operated by diesel railcars. All electric trains in CityRail's fleet are double-deck multiple units.

CityRail is owned by the New South Wales State Government and is a "product group" of RailCorp, the state enterprise which operates the New South Wales Railways.


Overview: a hybrid system

CityRail is a hybrid of three different types of passenger railway - it is a combination of a metro-style underground railway system; a suburban commuter rail system and an interurban rail system.

A person who lives in Blacktown 30 km west of Sydney and works in the city centre 2 km from Sydney's Central Station can catch a CityRail suburban service from his/her local station. However, the train does not terminate at Central Station; the train proceeds onward into the underground portions of the network in Sydney's CBD and some inner city neighbourhoods without the need to change trains or buy tickets from a different railway organisation.

CityRail also operates several interurban services which terminate at Central Station (though some services operate in the metro-style portions of the system in the peak hours). These lines stretch over 160 km (100 miles) from Sydney, as far north as Newcastle, as far west as Lithgow, as far south-west as Goulburn and as far south as Bomaderry-Nowra and Port Kembla. Usually, Southern Highlands trains require a connection at Campbelltown as they run into the city during peak hours only.

Regional services operate from the terminus station at Newcastle, with local electric services to the Central Coast and diesel services to Maitland. After Maitland, the DMUs travel either to Scone or Dungog, but most of these service terminate at Maitland or Telarah.

Underground system

Lines of Sydney CityRail
  City Circle
Metropolitan services
  Airport and East Hills
  Inner West
  Illawarra (Eastern Suburbs)
  North Shore
  Olympic Park Sprint
Intercity services
  Southern Highlands
  South Coast
  Blue Mountains
  Newcastle and Central Coast
  Hunter Valley
Under construction
  Epping to Chatswood
List of Sydney railway stations
Main article: Sydney underground railways

The underground lines in Sydney are:

Suburban network

The hub of the CityRail system is Central Station. Suburban Trains depart from platforms 16-25

Trains on the Airport and East Hills Line (line colour green) and South Line (light blue), as well as trains from the Bankstown and Inner West (dull purple) lines proceed northwards from Central Station and travel either clockwise or anti-clockwise around the City Circle back to Central Station, ready to start an outbound journey along any one of the green or purple lines.

Trains from the Western Line (yellow) and Northern Line (red) from the western and north-western suburbs proceed north from Central Station and stop at Town Hall and Wynyard underground stations. They then proceed over the Sydney Harbour Bridge and continue to the North Shore Line. Conversely, trains from the North Shore Line continue through Central Station and on to either the Western or Northern lines.

Illawarra Line (blue) trains from the southern suburbs dive underground west of Redfern station, and then stop at Redfern and Central Station. They continue to Bondi Junction, approximately 5 km east of Sydney, along the mainly underground Eastern suburbs line.

There are two suburban lines within the Sydney metropolitan area which do not go to Central Station or the City Circle. One is the Cumberland Line (bright lilac), a cross-suburban service from Campbelltown to Blacktown via Parramatta, which was opened in the late 1990s. The other is the Carlingford Line (indigo), a short mainly single-track branch in the western suburbs with infrequent train services that connect to South and Western Line services at Clyde.

Interurban network

In addition to the above suburban services which operate only within the Sydney metropolitan area, there are also express services linking Sydney to neighbouring regions outside the suburban area. The hub of these services is Sydney Terminal Station which is consists of a set of terminating platforms (1-15) adjoining the through platforms of Central station (platforms 16-25).

There are four interurban lines radiating from Sydney:

There are also regional lines originating in Newcastle called the Hunter Lines (dark purple) with trains operating between Newcastle and its satellite city of Maitland, continuing to either Dungog or Scone.

During peak hours, some intercity services operate via suburban lines (North Shore Line) and are served by Tangara "G" sets.Local services on the Newcastle Line are served by 2 car "K" sets. Local services on the South Coast line are served by 2 car "L" sets, "T" sets and "G" sets.

CityRail also operates several bus routes along corridors where the railway line has been closed to passenger traffic or fallen into disuse altogether. These bus services appear in CityRail timetables and accept CityRail tickets, but they are operated by private-sector bus companies contracted by CityRail. As of 2004 these CityRail bus services were:

  • Wollongong to Moss Vale via Robertson
  • Picton to Mittagong via Thirlmere
  • Lithgow to Bathurst via Mt. Lambie
  • Fassifern to Toronto shuttle service


Missing image
A Tangara set

As of 2005 CityRail operates several distinct types of trains for suburban services:

  • Comeng/Goninan R sets (six cars)or S sets (four or eight cars). Operates on sectors 1,2 and 3
  • "Chopper" C sets (four or eight cars). Operates on sector 2.
  • Air-conditioned K sets (four or eight cars). Operates on Sector 3.
  • Goninan manufactured Tangara T sets. Operates on sector 1 and 2 (shared) and sector 3.
  • EDi Rail manufactured Millenium M sets. As of 2005, these sets are currently operating on sector 2 only.
  • Newcastle local services K sets (two cars). Sets K1-K4, attached to Hornsby Maintenence Centre (sector 3).
  • Comeng L sets for Wollongong local services and the Olympic Park sprint shuttle (two cars)

On interurban services, different style trains usually operate with extra comforts (such as armrests and on-board toilets) to cater for longer distance journeys:

  • Comeng manufactured V sets. (four, six and eight car sets). Operates on sector 4.
  • Goninan manufactured "Outer Suburban" Tangara G sets. Operates peak hour intercity and off peak suburban services on sectors 1 and 3 (see below).

On the Newcastle outer-suburban network older 620/720 diesel rail motors are used. Endeavour Cars are also used for Newcastle services to Maitland and Dungong/Scone. New Hunter cars are being brought in to replace the older 620s. A new style of diesel multiple unit is under contruction now by EDi. New outer suburban cars will also soon be in service.

Fleet depot and operation area

A target plate is a coloured square plate attached to the lower front right side below the drivers cabin of a train identifying the train set type (listed above) and number (e.g. K78, T65).

Sector 1 (Red target plate) Mortdale maintenance centre Out stabling depots/points: Cronulla, Waterfall and Bondi Junction.

The Illawarra line from Bondi Junction to Cronulla/Waterfall. T, G and L sets allocated to Mortdale are also used on the south coast line for services to Port Kembla and Dapto. Tangara T sets allocated to Mortdale are also used for service on sector 2.

Sector 2 (Blue Target Plate) Flemington maintenance centre. Out stabling depots/points: Campbelltown and Liverpool.

The Cumberland line from Campbelltown to Blacktown, Airport Line, Olympic Sark sprint shuttle, Campbelltown via East Hills and Granville, Liverpool via Bankstown and Regents Park and City Circle Lines. Mortdale (Sector 1)Tangara T sets are used for sector 2 services.

Sector 3 (Black target plate) Hornsby maintenance centre. Out stabling depots/points: Penrith, Blacktown, Richmond, North Sydney and Hornsby Yard.

The North Shore Line, Main North Line via Epping, Emu Plains, Richmond and Carlingford Lines. G sets allocated to Hornsby are also used on the Blue Mountains line for services to Springwood via the North Shore line and the Central Coast line for services to Wyong via the North Shore line during peak hours. The 2 car K sets (K1-K4) are used for local Newcastle services.

Sector 4 (Blue target plate) Flemington maintenance centre. Out stabling depots/points: Newcastle, Gosford, Mt. Victoria, Lithgow, and Wollongong.

Intercity services within electrified area from Sydney (Central) to Lithgow, Kiama/Port Kembla and Newcastle.

Sector 5 (Green Target Plate) Eveleigh maintenance centre. Millennium M set depot. Providing services within the City Rail suburban network.

In addition, MainTrain, located in Auburn, is contracted by RailCorp for all heavy maintenence and overhauls of the CityRail electric fleet (excluding the Millenium trains).

Corporate structure

Prior to 1 January 2004, CityRail was a joint operation of the Rail Infrastructure Corporation and the New South Wales State Rail Authority (SRA), both state-owned entities. The State Rail Authority was responsible for CityRail's ticketing, public relations, political and corporate side. Meanwhile, the Rail Infrastructure Corporation, technically operating independently of the State Rail Authority, was be responsible for CityRail's fleet, track network and maintenance side.

1 January 2004 marked the introduction of a new state-owned, entity called the Rail Corporation New South Wales, or RailCorp. RailCorp's function is to join the State Rail Authority and the Rail Infrastructure Corporation's operations relating to CityRail under one entity. As a result, the State Rail Authority has been dissolved into RailCorp, and the Rail Infrastructure Corporation's duties of track and fleet maintenance have been transferred to RailCorp. The Rail Infrastructure Corporation still has duties outside of the CityRail network, including interstate and rural lines, as well as freight services. CityRail has a loose affiliation with the New South Wales State Transit Authority, which manages Sydney's government bus, ferry and suburban T-Way network. Inner-city transport is supplemented by the privately owned Metro Transport Corporation, which manages Sydney City's small light rail (a modern tram) and monorail network.


CityRail's origins go as far back as 1855 when the first railway in New South Wales was opened between Sydney and Parramatta, now a suburb of Sydney but then a major agricultural centre. The railway formed the basis of the New South Wales railways and was owned by the government. Passenger and freight services were operated from the beginning.

The State's railway system quickly expanded from the outset with lines radiating from Sydney and Newcastle into the interior of New South Wales, with frequent passenger railway services in the suburban areas of Sydney and Newcastle along with less frequent passenger trains into the rural areas and interstate. All services were powered by steam locomotives, though in the 1920s petrol railcars were introduced for minor branch lines with low passenger numbers, both in metropolitan Sydney and rural areas.

The CityRail system as it exists today is really the result of the vision and foresight of John Bradfield, one of Australia's most respected and famous civil engineers. He was involved in the design and construction of Sydney underground railways in the 1920s and 1930s, but he is more famous for the associated design and construction of Sydney's greatest icon, the Sydney Harbour Bridge.


Electrification came to Sydney's suburbs in 1926 with the first suburban electric service running between Sydney's Central Station and the suburb of Oatley approximately 20 km south of Sydney. In the same year, the first underground railway was constructed from Central Station to St James in downtown Sydney. Electric trains that had previously terminated at the Central Station continued north, diving underground at the Goulburn Street tunnel portal, stopping at Museum underground station and then terminating at St James.

Other lines were quickly electrified soon after. Also, in conjunction with the construction of the Sydney Harbour Bridge which opened in 1932, an additional underground line in downtown Sydney was constructed, connecting the North Shore line with Central Station via two downtown stations - Town Hall and Wynyard.

World War II interrupted programs for further electrification, but the following extensive electric network was in place in 1948 spanning the suburban area:

  • St James - Hurstville - Cronulla
  • St James - East Hills
  • Wynyard - Sydenham - Bankstown
  • Wynyard - Strathfield - Bankstown
  • North Sydney - Strathfield - Hornsby
  • Hornsby - North Sydney - Parramatta
  • Hornsby - North Sydney - Granville - Liverpool
  • Lidcombe - Regents Park - Liverpool shuttle service

NightRide bus service

To provide a lower-cost passenger service between 0001 and 0500 while leaving the tracks clear of trains for maintenance work, a parallel bus service was established in 1989. This is called the NightRide bus service and it operates typically at hourly intervals. Bus stops and railway stations do not of course perfectly coincide, but there is a reasonable approximation.


In response to public allegations of poor service from CityRail, the government of New South Wales has announced that it intends to separate the existing CityRail lines into five independent lines with more reliable and frequent services. The five lines will be called "Rail Clearways" and are listed as the Illawarra and Eastern Suburbs Line, the Bankstown Line, the Campbelltown Express Line, the Airport & South Line and the North-West Lines. This project is estimated to cost AUD$1 billion and is scheduled for completion in 2010.

There is also news of plans to build a privately operated underground train line that will run from the CBD to Parramatta, reducing the current 1 hour+ trip to ~12 minutes. This service will operate in conjunction with RailCorp, and will use CityRail's existing train stations and ticketing system, but the private company will charge an extra fee on top of the normal CityRail ticket price. The train fleet and rail infrastructure will be built and maintained by the private company.

As of June 2005, the NSW government announced plans for a major new upgrade to the CityRail network involving a new line from the north-west to the city and then to the south-west. This massive project was 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 tunnels under the city. Under this plan, the new north-west suburbs would get a rail line by 2017, the new south-west suburbs would be linked by 2020, 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 to the previously planned Parramatta to Chatswood rail link which has since been truncated to link only Epping to Chatswood, with the Epping to Parrammatta portion postponed indefinitely.

See also

External links



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