Circular Quay railway station

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Circular Quay
Circular Quay Railway Station From Loftus Street.JPG
Station statistics
Address Alfred St, Circular Quay
New South Wales, Australia
Coordinates 33°51′41″S 151°12′39″E / 33.861332°S 151.210779°E / -33.861332; 151.210779
Line(s) City Circle line
Connections Bus
Distance 2.97 km (1.85 mi) from Central
Structure type Elevated
Platforms 2 (2 side)
Tracks 2
Parking No
Other information
Opened 1954
Electrified Yes
Accessible Handicapped/disabled access
Station code CQY
Owned by RailCorp
Operator Sydney Trains
Website Sydney Trains
Preceding station   Sydney Trains   Following station
towards Central
Bankstown Line
towards Lidcombe or Liverpool
towards Campbelltown
Airport, Inner West & South Line
towards Macarthur

Circular Quay is a Sydney Trains station located in Sydney, Australia and is situated on the City Circle line. The station is elevated with the elevated Cahill Expressway roadway directly above it, and lies directly behind (to the south of) the Circular Quay ferry terminals from which services operate to a number of locations around Port Jackson (Sydney Harbour). To the south, the station faces Alfred Street, which is the terminus for a number of bus services. Circular Quay is the nearest railway station to the Sydney Opera House and The Rocks area of Sydney.

Circular Quay is the 11th most patronised railway station in Sydney (out of a total of 176 stations), with an average of 18,460 passengers boarding per day.


Alfred Street, the future location of the Circular Quay railway station, before the construction of the rail viaduct; the ferry wharves are visible on the left
Circular Quay railway station and the Cahill Expressway under construction in 1955. Workmen can be seen standing on the viaduct leading into and through the station, which was completed the previous year in 1954.

Circular Quay is an area of historical significance for Sydney, as it was for a long time the central harbour of a settlement which relied on shipping for its connection to the outside world. By the 20th century, ferry commuter wharves began to eclipse commercial shipping wharves as the dominant feature of the Quay area. The area became a transport hub as it served as the terminus of both ferry services and tram services (it remains an important terminus for ferry services and bus services, the latter having replaced the tram network in Sydney).[1]

Planning for a railway station here to complement this transport hub began in 1909, and work was authorised in 1915. Tunnels to link the surrounding stations to the future Circular Quay station were built between 1917 and 1926 (eastern section) and 1932 (western section). Work on the section of the railway through Circular Quay began in 1936, was interrupted by the Second World War, and recommenced in 1945. Work was again interrupted between 1951 and 1953, but the viaduct was finally completed in 1954.[1]

Designs for the station building itself commenced in 1927, revised in 1937, and the station was finally completed and opened on 20 January 1956, with the first regular train services beginning on 22 January. The completion of Circular Quay station marked the completion of the City Circle railway as originally envisaged by Bradfield making it the newest station on the line.

The construction and placement of the station was always controversial due to its prominent location at the head of Circular Quay, an important natural and cultural landmark and visitors' attraction. When the Cahill Expressway was opened above the station in 1958, the controversy over the entire structure only intensified. There have been various proposals to relocate the station underground in conjunction with the demolition of the Cahill Expressway, however these have not come to fruition.

In 2006 RailCorp performed maintenance and cleaning of the station's 50-year-old facade.[2] A refurbishment in 2007 introduced sun-shading awnings on the platforms, removed advertising hoarding between the tracks, and improved facilities on the concourse level.


View across the platforms to Circular Quay and the Sydney Harbour Bridge at Circular Quay station.
Entrance to ground level concourse.

Circular Quay station features a ground-level central concourse, and elevated platforms on a second level. Both platforms feature sections of open galleries, offering views to Circular Quay, the Sydney Harbour Bridge and the Sydney Opera House on one side, and Customs House and the Alfred Street plaza on the other. Viaducts lead from the elevated platforms to tunnels through surrounding elevated terrain that lead to neighbouring stations.

The station has two main, double-storey facades, facing Circular Quay to the north, and Customs House to the south respectively. The northern facade is faced with polished granite tiles, while the southern one features polished granite and sandstone. The station name is featured in steel lettering on both sides. The upper storey of the facades correspond to the central sections of the platforms, and feature steel-framed windows. The exterior of the remainder of the platform feature open, glass-railed galleries, supported on the lower level by a continuation of the central facade.[1] The top of the northern, harbour-facing facade is incorporated into the viewing platform and rest area located above the station alongside the Cahill Expressway roadway. This platform can be reached from the pedestrian walkway on the Cahill Expressway.

The station platforms are reached from the ground level concourse via stairs, escalators and lifts. The central concourse is surrounded on either side by retail and food shops and public toilets located under the elevated platforms. The concourse is decorated with brass details in an aquatic animal motif, seen in sculpted grills above stairways and doorways. Glass bricks are used extensively in various parts.

The station is in an inter-war functionalist style, as seen in the strong horizontal lines presented by the windows and galleries, with art deco details.[1]

Platforms and services[edit]

Trains on the Airport, Inner West & South and Bankstown lines pass through Circular Quay, and the station is considered the terminal point for these services (technically it is where the run number of each service changes). Services on the Illawarra line used the station until 1980 when its integration with the newly built Eastern Suburbs line was completed and services were re-routed. The station is fully accessible to wheelchairs.

The station is served by six to ten trains per hour each way, with additional trains during weekday peak hours.

Platform Line Stopping pattern Notes
services to Homebush Via Strathfield stopping all stops to Homebush. Campbelltown and Glenfield services limited stops Some Airport Trains depart from Kingsgrove on Weekday
services to Revesby and Macarthur Via Airport
services to Lidcombe and Liverpool Via Bankstown Weekday some Airport trains terminate at Kingsgrove

Bus services[edit]

South of the railway station is the Alfred Street bus terminus. A large number of Sydney Buses routes originate from there as well as two Sydney Explorer routes.. They are:[3][4]

Stand A:

Stand B:

Stand C:

Stand D:

  • 301 - to Pagewood - (Eastgardens Shopping Centre - Bunnerong Road and Wentworth Avenue)
  • 302 - to Pagewood - (Eastgardens Shopping Centre lower level)
  • 303 - to Sans Souci - (Botany Road and Hollingshed Street)
  • 309 - to Matraville - (Port Botany terminus)
  • 310 - to Pagewood - (Eastgardens Shopping Centre -Bunnerong Road and Wentworth Avenue)
  • 324 - to Watsons Bay - (Military Road terminus)
  • 325 - to Watsons Bay - (Military Road Terminus)
  • 326 - to Bondi Junction Railway Station Bus Interchange
  • 373 - to Coogee - (Arden and Dolphin Streets)
  • 374 - to Coogee - (Arden and Dolphin Streets)
  • 376 - to Maroubra - (Maroubra Beach)
  • 377 - to Maroubra - (Maroubra Beach)

Stand E:


Track arrangement at Circular Quay


  1. ^ a b c d Circular Quay Railway Station and Viaduct NSW Environment & Heritage Retrieved 4 December 2014
  2. ^ News in Brief, Railway Digest, July 2007. ARHS NSW Division.
  3. ^ Timetables and Maps Transport Info NSW
  4. ^ Welcome to State Transit bus services in Sydney Sydney Buses

External links[edit]