Central railway station, Sydney

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Central station pre 1955.jpg
Station statistics
Address Railway Square
Pitt Street
Eddy Avenue
Chalmers Street
Elizabeth Street, Haymarket
New South Wales, Australia
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 30 metres (98 ft)
Connections Bus
Light rail
Structure type Ground/Underground
Platforms 27 (25 in use, 16 terminating
7 islands)
Tracks 30, including 5 without platforms
Other information
Accessible Handicapped/disabled access
Station code CEN or SYD
Owned by RailCorp
Operator Sydney Trains
Website Central

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 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
Preceding station   NSW TrainLink   Following station
towards Brisbane
NSW TrainLink North Coast Terminus
NSW TrainLink Southern
towards Broken Hill or Dubbo
NSW TrainLink Western
towards Moree or Armidale
NSW TrainLink North Western
South Coast Line
towards Goulburn
Southern Highlands Line
towards Bathurst
Blue Mountains Line
towards Newcastle
Newcastle and Central Coast 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 CBD and is the largest 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. It is also the closest station to the University of Technology Sydney at Broadway.

Central is the most patronised railway station in Sydney (out of a total of 176 stations), with an average of 91,050 passengers boarding per day.


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.

Sydney's first Tramways depot, corner of Pitt Street and what was then Gipps St West and Garden Road, looking SE across the Old Cemeteries towards Surry Hills. Eddy Avenue roughly follows Garden Road,[1] circa 1880
Central in 1900[citation needed] before additional storeys and the clock tower were built
Central Station Indicator Board c.1905 displayed at Powerhouse Museum

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,[2] 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 Cemetery and Waverley Cemetery. Bodies were moved to Botany by steam tram motors and flat cars. The new 15-platform station, still in use, opened on 4 August 1906.[3] 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 train that arrived in Sydney at 5:50 am on 5 August 1906 arrived at the new station.[4] 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, opened in 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."[5] It is listed on the Register of the National Estate.[6]

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.[7] 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 Station has expanded in an easterly direction to accommodate the suburban electric trains. The main building is used for intercity, country and interstate services.

Central Station celebrated its 100th birthday on 5 August 2006, with preserved steam locomotives providing shuttle trips from Sydney to Hurstville and Railmotor rides from Mortuary Station to Flemington goods yards.

Station configuration[edit]

The Grand Concourse provides a waiting area for intercity services ("NSW TrainLink")

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

The western ("steam") half, known as Sydney Terminal, comprises 15 terminal platforms and was opened in 1906. This section is dominated by a large vaulted roof over the concourse and elaborate masonry, primarily sandstone, the most common rock in the Sydney region. This section is popularly known as the country platforms, even though only three platforms are commonly used for long-distance trains: most of the platforms are used for NSW TrainLink intercity services.

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 car loading ramp for the Indian Pacific. The space where the mail sidings were is now a youth hostel named Sydney Railway Square YHA. The hostel rooms are modelled on old train carriages.

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 Platform 21 and 23 and Platform 14 and 15 were wired for Bankstown electric train services commencing October 1926 and later worked into the new St James Station. As the Homebush electrification was completed Platforms 17 and 18 were used for electric trains to Homebush. 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 transferred to electric in November 1929. Western electric trains worked through to Wynyard from February 28, 1932[8]

The eastern ("suburban" or "electric") part of Central Station, formerly known as 'Central Electric', consists of 12 through platforms, all aligned north-south, 2 of which are underground, used by suburban Sydney Trains services and by a limited number of 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.

The two underground platforms were built as part of the Eastern Suburbs Railway. Construction commenced in 1948 but the Eastern Suburbs 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.

Service and platforms[edit]

Looking down one of the terminal platforms
Suburban platforms
The underground Platform 24

Central Station serves all suburban lines except for the Cumberland Line, Carlingford Line and the Regional Hunter Line. All long-distance rural and interstate passenger trains operated by the State-owned NSW TrainLink and the famous Indian Pacific, the twice-weekly train between Sydney and Perth, Western Australia (via Adelaide, South Australia) terminate at Central.

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.

The station is served by twenty-seven to thirty-eight trains per hour in each direction, with additional trains during weekday peak hours. Sydney Trains and NSW TrainLink services are listed in the box below:

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 Used only for archival document storage[9]
Never completed


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 station

Central station is the location of Central light rail stop, the eastern terminus of the Dulwich Hill Line. It allows easy transfer from trains 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".

On 13 December 2012, the NSW Government announced a commitment to build a $1.6 billion light rail from Circular Quay down George Street to Central Station, then across to Moore Park and down Anzac Parade. South of Moore Park the line will spit into two branches – one continuing down Anzac Parade to the nine ways at Kingsford, and the second heading to Randwick via Alison Road.[10]

Bus services[edit]

Central station view from Belmore Park

Many bus services depart from the adjacent Eddy Avenue and Chalmers Street or from the nearby Railway Square on George Street. Special bus services depart from Chalmers Street, such as replacement services for Sydney Trains trains due to track work, or free shuttle services to special events at Moore Park, like rugby or cricket.

Buses for the University of New South Wales leave Stand D on Eddy Avenue, returning to the station side of Eddy Avenue. Express buses (Route 891) to the University of New South Wales arrive approximately every two minutes during morning peak hours, with decreasing frequency in off-peak hours.

A large number of Sydney Buses services offer interchange from Central. They are:

Railway Square (George Street)[edit]

Stand A (Eastern Suburbs Services):

  • 305 – to Mascot – (O`Riordan Street near Baxter Road)
  • 309 – to Port Botany – (Port Botany Depot, Monday-Saturday morning only)
  • 310 – to Eastgardens – (Westfield bus interchange, Monday-Saturday morning only)
  • 311 – to Gresham Street via Woolloomoolloo
  • 372 – to Coogee – (Arden Street near Dolphin Street)
  • 378 – to Bronte Beach – (Bronte Beach Terminus)
  • 393 – to Little Bay – (Anzac Parade near Little Bay Road)
  • 395 – to Maroubra Beach – (Maroubra Beach set down only)

Stand A NightRide Services:

Stand B (Northern Beaches Services):

  • E86 – to Church Point – (Mccarrs Creek Terminus)
  • E87 – to Newport – (Seaview Avenue near Robertson Road)
  • L88 – to Avalon – (Carreel Head Road near Burrawong Road)
  • E88 – to Avalon – (Barrenjoey Road near Careel Head Road)
  • E89 – to Avalon – (Barrenjoey Road near Avalon Parade)
  • 190 – to Palm Beach – (Ocean Place near Ocean Road)
  • L90 – to Palm Beach – (Ocean Place near Ocean Road)

Stand C (Inner West Services):

  • 412 – to Campsie – (South Parade)
  • 413 – to Campsie – (Beamish Street near North Parade)
  • 431 – to Glebe Point – (Federal Road Terminus)
  • 433 – to Balmain – (Darling Street near Curtis Road)
  • 437 – to Five Dock – (Great North Road)
  • 438 – to Abbotsford – (Great North Road and The Terrace)
  • L38 – to Abbotsford (Great North Road and The Terrace)
  • 439 – to Mortlake
  • L39 – to Mortlake
  • 440 – to Rozelle – (Terry Street near Victoria Road)
  • 461 – to Burwood – (Railway Parade near Burwood Plaza)
  • M10 – to Leichhardt – (Pioneers Memorial Park)
  • 480 – to Strathfield – (Strathfield Station via Homebush Road)
  • 483 – to Strathfield – (Strathfield Station via Strathfield Girls' High School)

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:

  • 339 – to Clovelly – (Clovelly Road Terminus)
  • 372 – to Coogee – (Arden Street near Dolphin Street)
  • 374 – to Coogee – (Arden Street near Dolphin Street)
  • 376 – to Maroubra Beach – (Maroubra Beach set down only)
  • 391 – to Port Botany – (Port Botany Terminus); to La Perouse (Anzac Parade Terminus)
  • 393 – to Little Bay – (Anzac Parade near Little Bay Road)
  • 395 – to Maroubra Beach – (Maroubra Beach set down only)

Stand D:

Coach services[edit]

Long-distance coaches terminate on Eddy Avenue.

Devonshire Street pedestrian tunnel[edit]

After Central Station 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.


  1. ^ http://www.nla.gov.au/apps/cdview?pi=nla.map-rm3443-sd&rgn=0.3418884664,0.4464162249,0.5320025349,0.5846969348&width=1200&cmd=pan&y=1200
  2. ^ "Sydney's Central Station - Now and Then Photos - Sydney". Weekend Notes. 
  3. ^ The Department of Railways Research and Information Section (1966) Railway Quiz (Department of Railways) p8
  4. ^ 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. 
  5. ^ "New Railway Station. An imposing Building". The Sydney Morning Herald (NSW: 1842 - 1954) (NSW). 2 August 1906. p. 7. Retrieved 27 March 2014. 
  6. ^ Heritage of Australia, Macmillan Publishers, 1981, p.2/108
  7. ^ Baker, Jordan, "The secret life of us — tunnel vision exposed", Sydney Morning Herald, 2 August 2006. Accessed via Factiva on 5 April 2007.
  8. ^ ARHS Bulletin 56: 3. 1942. 
  9. ^ David Johnson's Sydney Underground Photos
  10. ^ "Sydney's Light Rail Future". Transport for New South Wales. 13 December 2012. pp. 15, 24. Retrieved 14 December 2012. 

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]