Central railway station, Sydney

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Central Station in Sydney (3).jpg
Station viewed from Western Forecourt in March 2013
Station statistics
Address Surrounded by
Railway Square
Pitt Street
Eddy Avenue
Chalmers Street
& Elizabeth Street, Haymarket,
Coordinates 33°52′57″S 151°12′24″E / 33.88250°S 151.20667°E / -33.88250; 151.20667Coordinates: 33°52′57″S 151°12′24″E / 33.88250°S 151.20667°E / -33.88250; 151.20667
Elevation 20 metres (67 ft)
Connections Bus
Light rail
Structure type Ground: 15
Elevated: 8
Underground: 2
Platforms 25 (15 terminating, 10 through)
Tracks 30
Baggage check Yes
Other information
Opened 5 August 1906
Electrified Yes
Accessible Handicapped/disabled access
Station code CEN
Owned by RailCorp
Operator Sydney Trains
Opal card MyZone 1
Website Sydney Trains
11.35 million (2013)
Preceding station   Sydney Trains   Following station
towards Epping or Emu Plains or Richmond
North Shore, Northern & Western Line
towards Hornsby or Berowra
towards Macarthur
Airport and East Hills Line
through to City Circle
either Museum or Town Hall
towards Macarthur
towards Campbelltown
Inner West & South Line
towards Lidcombe or Liverpool
Bankstown Line
through to City Circle
either Museum or Town Hall
towards Waterfall or Cronulla
Eastern Suburbs & Illawarra Line
towards Olympic Park
Olympic Park Line
(occasional services only)
Preceding station   NSW TrainLink   Following station
towards Dungog
NSW TrainLink North Coast Terminus
towards Moree or Armidale
NSW TrainLink North Western
towards Broken Hill or Dubbo
NSW TrainLink Western
South Coast Line
towards Goulburn
Southern Highlands Line
NSW TrainLink Southern
towards Newcastle
Central Coast & Newcastle Line
towards Bathurst
Blue Mountains Line
Preceding station   Great Southern Railway   Following station
towards East Perth
Indian Pacific Terminus

Central railway station is located at the southern end of the Sydney central business district and is the largest and busiest railway station in Australia. It services almost all of the lines on the Sydney Trains network, and is the major terminus for NSW TrainLink services. It sits adjacent to Railway Square and is officially located in Haymarket.

Central is the busiest station in Australia when taking into account actual weekly patronage, with 11.35 million passenger movements in 2013.


There have been three terminal stations in Sydney. The original Sydney station was opened on 26 September 1855 in an area known as Cleveland Fields. This station (one wooden platform in a corrugated iron shed), called Redfern, had Devonshire Street as its northern boundary.

When this station became inadequate for the traffic it carried, a new station was built in 1874 on the same site and also called Redfern. This was a brick building with two platforms. It grew to 14 platforms before it was replaced by the present-day station to the north of Devonshire Street. The new station was built on a site previously occupied by the Devonshire Street Cemetery,[1] a convent, a female refuge, a police barracks, a parsonage, and a Benevolent Society. The remains exhumed from the cemetery were re-interred at a number of other Sydney cemeteries including Rookwood and Waverley cemeteries. Bodies were moved to Botany by steam tram motors and flat cars.

The present 15 platform station opened on 5 August 1906.[2] and included the previous Mortuary railway station used to transport funeral parties to Rookwood Cemetery.

The last train departed platform 5 of the 1874 station at midnight. During the remainder of that night, the passenger concourse was demolished and the line extended through the old station into the new station. The Western Mail arrived at 05:50 on 5 August 1906 at the new station.[3] Devonshire Street, which separated the two stations, became a pedestrian underpass to allow people to cross the railway line and is now known by many as the Devonshire Street Tunnel.

A 75-metre clock tower in the Free Classical style was added at the north-western corner of the station, opening on 3 March 1921. Central station was designed by the Government Architect, Walter Liberty Vernon. As it was being built, it was reported that "Everything in connection with the new station appears to have been designed on a grand scale, from the great elevated approaches down to the system of handling luggage underground."[4] It is listed on the Register of the National Estate.[5]

A riot, dubbed the Battle of Central Station, took place in 1916. Soldiers rebelling against camp conditions had raided hotels in Liverpool and travelled to the city by commandeered trains. Upon arrival at Central station, the rioters set about destroying the station facilities, and fire was exchanged between rampaging rioters and military police. One rioter was shot dead and several were injured. The only remaining evidence of the gun battle is a small bullet-hole in the marble by the entrance to platform 1.[6] This incident had a direct influence on the introduction of 6 o'clock closing of hotels in 1916, which lasted in New South Wales until 1955.

Since it was built, Central has expanded in an easterly direction to accommodate suburban electric trains. The main building is used for intercity, country and interstate services.

Station configuration[edit]

In the days of steam, the station was regarded as being divided into "steam" and "electric" parts.

The western half, comprises 15 terminal platforms and opened on 5 August 1906. This section is dominated by a large vaulted roof over the concourse and elaborate masonry, primarily Sydney sandstone. Officially named Sydney Terminal, these are often referred to as the country platforms.

To the west of Platform 1 there was a siding leading to two dock platforms for use of mail trains, now cut back to serve a motorail loading ramp for the Indian Pacific. The space where the mail sidings were is now a Youth Hostels Association hostel named Sydney Railway Square YHA. The hostel rooms are modelled on old train carriages.

Carriage sheds to the south of Platform 15 were demolished in the 1986 as were the sheds to the west of Platform 1 in 1999.[7][8]

In February 1926 Platform 18 and 19 of the steam station were wired for electric trains with a demonstration run from Sydney to Hurstville. This wiring was transferred to Platforms 21 and 23 and Platforms 14 and 15 were wired for Bankstown electric train services commencing October 1926 and later worked into St James. As the Homebush electrification was completed, Platforms 17 and 18 were wired. Electric trains to Hornsby via the main line commenced on 21 January 1929. Trains to Hornsby used Platforms 16 and 18. Steam services to Parramatta and Liverpool were converted to electric in November 1929. Western electric trains began operating through to Wynyard from 28 February 1932.[9]

The eastern ("suburban") part of the station, consists of 10 through platforms, all aligned north-south, two of which are underground. These are used by suburban Sydney Trains services and by a limited number of NSW TrainLink intercity services during peak hours. The eight above-ground platforms were opened in 1926 as part of a large electrification and modernisation program aimed at improving Sydney's suburban railway services. Prince Alfred sidings, south of Platform 23, were used to stable electric trains until closed in August 1995 and later demolished to make way for the Airport line.[10]

The two underground platforms were built as part of the Eastern Suburbs Railway. Construction commenced in 1948 but the line was not finished until 1979. While the plans called for four platforms, two (for the Southern Suburbs line) were found to be not needed and are used for archival storage by the New South Wales Railways.

Platforms & services[edit]

Central serves all Sydney suburban lines except for the Cumberland and Carlingford lines. All long-distance NSW TrainLink XPT and Xplorer services and the Great Southern Rail Indian Pacific terminate at Central. These generally use Platforms 1 to 3, although when the Indian Pacific is in the station occupying both Platforms 2 and 3, some NSW TrainLink services use Platforms 4 to 6.

The platforms are numbered from 1 to 25, with 1 being the westernmost platform and 25 being one of the easternmost. The services which generally use each platform are listed below.

Sydney Trains and NSW TrainLink services:

Platform Line Stopping pattern Notes
1 to 3 NSW TrainLink North Coast Country services to Grafton, Casino and Brisbane Dead-end terminal platforms
Also occasional heritage and train enthusiasts' special trains
NSW TrainLink North Western Country services to Armidale and Moree
NSW TrainLink Southern Country services to Canberra , Melbourne and Griffith
NSW TrainLink Western Country services to Dubbo and Broken Hill
Great Southern Railway Indian Pacific service to Perth
4 to 15 Central Coast & Newcastle Line Intercity services to Gosford, Wyong and Newcastle via Strathfield Dead-end terminal platforms
Blue Mountains Line Intercity services to Springwood, Katoomba, Mount Victoria and Lithgow via Parramatta
South Coast Line Intercity services to Thirroul, Wollongong, Port Kembla, Dapto and Kiama via Wolli Creek
Southern Highlands Line Peak hour intercity services to Moss Vale & Goulburn via East Hills or Granville
Special event limited stops services to Olympic Park
One terminating weekday service
Suburban services to Chatswood via the City and North Sydney, then on to Hornsby via Macquarie Park and Epping or Berowra via Gordon Also used by peak hour intercity services on the Central Coast & Newcastle line to Gosford and Wyong via Chatswood
Suburban services to the City Circle via Town Hall Continuation of services from Strathfield and Sydenham
Suburban services to the City Circle via Town Hall (most weekday services)
Suburban services to Epping, Richmond or Emu Plains via Strathfield Also used by peak hour intercity services on the Blue Mountains Line and services to Hornsby via Strathfield
Suburban services to Glenfield and Campbelltown via Granville, or Homebush via Strathfield
Suburban services to the City Circle via Museum (all weekend services and some morning weekday services) Continuation of services from Sydenham
Suburban services to the City Circle via Museum Continuation of services from the Airport
Suburban services to Lidcombe or Liverpool via Sydenham and Bankstown Also used by suburban peak hour express services to Campbelltown and Macarthur via Sydenham and East Hills
Suburban services to Kingsgrove, Revesby, Glenfield, Campbelltown and Macarthur via the Airport
Suburban services to Bondi Junction Some peak hour, evening and weekend South Coast Line intercity services to Bondi Junction
Suburban services to Hurstville, Mortdale, Sutherland, Cronulla, and Waterfall via Hurstville Some peak hour, evening and weekend South Coast Line intercity services to Wollongong, Port Kembla and Kiama
26 & 27 Never completed[11] Used only for archival document storage[12]
Never completed[11]

Indicator Board[edit]

When opened, Central station had an indicator board with 22 vertical panels. It was replaced in June 1982 by computer screens and preserved by the Powerhouse Museum.[13]


Diagram of track layout at the suburban section of the station.
There are seven grade separations in the "Flying Junctions", plus one unused one

Transport links[edit]

Light rail[edit]

A light rail vehicle at Central

Central is the eastern terminus of the Dulwich Hill Line that operates to Chinatown, Darling Harbour, Pyrmont and the inner western suburbs. The light rail stop is in an outside concourse area, near the main waiting area and departure hall. This area was originally designed for trams, and as such was used by trams until 1958, when the service was withdrawn. It was known as Railway Colonnade. Light rail services operate in a clockwise direction, whereas the trams operated in an anti-clockwise direction.

In April 2015, construction on the CBD and South East Light Rail line from Circular Quay to Kingsford and Randwick via Central will commence.[14] Stops will be located at Rawson Place and on Chalmers Street.

Bus services[edit]

1906 Central station Indicator Board on display at the Powerhouse Museum
Eastward view of the concourse in September 2013
Railway Square in December 2006

Many bus services depart from the adjacent Eddy Avenue and Chalmers Street or from the nearby Railway Square on George Street.

A large number of Sydney Buses and Hillsbus services offer interchange with Central. They are:

Railway Square (George Street)[edit]

Stand A (Eastern Suburbs Services):

Stand A NightRide Services:

Stand B (Northern Beaches Services):

Stand C (Inner West Services):

Stand C NightRide Services:

Stand D (South West Services to Newtown):

Stand E (Hills District Services via M2 Motorway)

Central Station (Eddy Avenue)[edit]

Stand A:

Stand C:

Stand D:

Coach services[edit]

Eddy Avenue coach terminus in December 2009

Long distance coaches depart from Eddy Avenue and Elizabeth Street:

Devonshire Street pedestrian tunnel[edit]

After Central was built in 1906, Devonshire Street, to the north of the old station, became an underpass. The underpass allows pedestrians to access the eastern "suburban" section from Railway Square and Chalmers Street.[16]


  1. ^ "Sydney's Central Station - Now and Then Photos - Sydney". Weekend Notes. 
  2. ^ Central Railway Station & Sydney Terminal Group NSW Environment & Heritage
  3. ^ Preston, Ronald George (1980). 125 Years of the Sydney to Parramatta Railway. Burwood: The New South Wales Rail Transport Museum. p. 60. ISBN 0-909862-13-3. 
  4. ^ "New Railway Station. An imposing Building". The Sydney Morning Herald (NSW: 1842 - 1954) (NSW). 2 August 1906. p. 7. Retrieved 27 March 2014. 
  5. ^ Heritage of Australia, Macmillan Publishers, 1981, p.2/108
  6. ^ Baker, Jordan, "The secret life of us — tunnel vision exposed", Sydney Morning Herald, 2 August 2006. Accessed via Factiva on 5 April 2007.
  7. ^ "Suburban Report" Railway Digest November 1986 page 344
  8. ^ "Newsline" Railway Digest April 1999 page 12
  9. ^ "Unknown". ARHS Bulletin 56: 3. 1942. 
  10. ^ "CityRail's New Timetable" Railway Digest August 1995 page 13
  11. ^ a b "In search of platforms 26 and 27: Central station’s mysterious underground world". The Daily Telegraph. October 30, 2014. Retrieved October 30, 2014. 
  12. ^ David Johnson's Sydney Underground Photos
  13. ^ Central Station indicator board Powerhouse Museum
  14. ^ CBD & South East Light Rail Project Transport for New South Wales April 2013
  15. ^ Australian timetables Premier Transport Group
  16. ^ Tunnelling Through the Past Sydney Architecture

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]