Eastern Suburbs & Illawarra Line
The Eastern Suburbs & Illawarra Line (numbered T4, coloured azure blue) is a commuter railway line in the eastern and southern suburbs of Sydney, Australia and is a part of the Sydney Trains network. The line was constructed in the 1880s to Wollongong to take advantage of agricultural and mining potentials in the Illawarra area. In March 1926 it became the first railway in New South Wales to run electric train services.
Today the railway consists of three connected lines:
- the original Illawarra Line from the Sydney CBD to Waterfall
- the Cronulla Line from Sutherland to Cronulla which opened in 1939 replacing an earlier tram service
- the Eastern Suburbs line from the Sydney CBD to Bondi Junction which opened in 1979
Operationally and historically, the entire line from the Illawarra Junction at Redfern to its terminus in Bomaderry on the South Coast was known as the Illawarra Line. However since 1989 CityRail has marketed the suburban services to Waterfall and Cronulla as the Illawarra line and interurban services south to Wollongong and Bomaderry as the South Coast line. The line is coloured an azure blue on Sydney Trains timetables and other promotional materials.
- 1 Alignment
- 2 History
- 3 Operation
- 4 Performance
- 5 Metro proposal
- 6 See also
- 7 Notes
- 8 References
- 9 External links
Eastern Suburbs Line
The Suburbs Line runs between Bondi Junction in Sydney's east and Eveleigh, just south of the Sydney central business district. It is mostly underground, and consists of 7 kilometres of bored tunnels and 1.5 kilometres of cut and cover tunnels, with only 2 kilometres above ground. In the Eastern Suburbs, three tunnels proceed in a westerly direction from Bondi Junction under the suburbs of Edgecliff and Kings Cross; in each of these tunnels there are stations. Between Bondi Junction and Edgecliff there is a short open-air cutting in Woollahra, and between Edgecliff and Kings Cross there is a short viaduct over Rushcutters Bay.
From Kings Cross, the line proceeds west towards the Sydney Central Business District on a viaduct that passes over the suburb of Woolloomooloo and the Eastern Distributor. The line then passes into a tunnel underneath the Art Gallery of New South Wales to a station underneath Martin Place. Turning south, the line proceeds through Town Hall, Central and Redfern stations, before emerging behind the Eveleigh Railway Workshops. The line is double track throughout, with turnback sidings at Martin Place and Bondi Junction for citybound trains, and at Central for trains from Bondi Junction.
Illawarra & Cronulla Lines
The Illawarra Line commences at Illawarra Junction at Redfern and travel on the 'Illawarra' (eastern pair) tracks. A dive tunnel allows Intercity services from the South Coast Line to cross underneath the main suburban lines to access Central station. The Illawarra lines are also connected at this point to the Illawarra Relief Lines which emerge from underground and lead to the Eastern Suburbs Line.
From Illawarra Junction, four tracks head south through the suburbs of Erskineville and St Peters to Sydenham station. The 'main' pair of tracks are used by Eastern Suburbs & Illawarra Line and South Coast Line trains and the 'local' pair by Bankstown Line and peak hour Airport, Inner West & South Line trains. At Sydenham, the Bankstown railway line branches off, but trains from the Airport, Inner West & South Line continue along the Illawarra line until Wolli Creek, where a junction to the East Hills railway line exists. South of Wolli Creek station, a crossover allows trains from the 'main' pair of tracks to switch to the 'local' pair. This is used by peak hour all-stations Eastern Suburbs & Illawarra Line trains. The four track section ends at Hurstville. The line then continues as two tracks south towards Sutherland, crossing the Georges River between the suburbs of Oatley and Como. At Sutherland the Cronulla railway line branches in an easterly direction.
The main line then heads in a southerly direction, parallel to the Princes Highway to the west and bordering the Royal National Park on its eastern side until Waterfall, the last suburb in the Sydney metropolitan area. The line continues south from here as the South Coast line through the Royal National Park.
Main line construction
The idea for a railway between Sydney and the Illawarra area was first raised in the 1870s. At that time, railways to the north, west and southwest of Sydney had already been constructed, and a committee of prominent citizens formed to investigate the idea felt that a railway might help to develop agricultural and mining potentials in the Illawarra. In 1873, the committee asked the Government Surveyor, R. Stephens, to examine the area between Sydney and Bulli for a suitable route. The suggested route led from Rozelle in inner-western Sydney (at the site of the former Balmain Power Station), crossing the Georges River at Tom Uglys Point, climbing the Gwawley Range on a steep gradient, then following the Port Hacking River towards Stanwell Park. The railway would connect to the main line at Petersham station. When Stephens went to survey the route, he encountered many difficulties with terrain, especially between Gymea Bay and the Port Hacking River, as well as along the river itself. Stephens noted his concerns about the Gymea Bay-Port Hacking route in a letter to the Engineer-in-Chief of the New South Wales Railways, John Whitton:
Similar things were written about the route along the River itself:
Besides the terrain, problems were also found with the proposed descent from Bulli to Wollongong. Stephens found that any proposed railway would have required a series of zig zags to enable trains to climb the Illawarra escarpment. The committee presented the route to Parliament in 1876, but despite a pledge of £740,000 by Parliament towards construction costs, and petitions from Kiama coal-miners, it was rejected.
The Government undertook no further surveys until 1880, when a new route was approved. This route originated near the inner-city locality of Macdonaldtown and ran to Kiama via the locality of "Bottle Forest", a distance of 109 kilometres (68 mi). The route selected comprises the present-day route, although minor deviations were made between Waterfall and Coal Cliff between 1915 and 1920. On 6 April 1881, Governor Augustus Loftus assented to Act 44 Vic. No. 28, which provided £1,020,000 for the construction of this railway, and proposed that the first section of 37 kilometres (23 mi), constituting approximately the present suburban route, be completed by 30 September 1884. Almost immediately, concerns were raised about the new route's viability, most specifically over the cost of tunnelling between Waterfall and Otford to reach Wollongong. Work was suspended past the 24 kilometre point at Como, and Government surveyors were instructed to re-survey Stephens' work on the original route. Their work allayed concerns about the new route: although the new route had more tunnelling, excavation and sharp curves, the total cost of the "Bottle Forest" route was estimated at £130,175 less than the original Port Hacking route. The Minister for Works eventually agreed on this new route, although construction was again briefly halted when the contractors refused to recommence work on the disputed section. With new contractors hired, the line was complete to Hurstville by 15 October 1884, Waterfall by 9 March 1886, and the whole line to Kiama was opened officially in Wollongong on 22 June 1887.
According to the official papers on the line's construction, when the line first opened for trains between Sydney and Sutherland construction was not quite complete, so excursion services initially ran on weekends only until the entire line was handed over. The first official train ran within the modern-day suburban area on 9 December 1885, although the line was closed once again between December 1885 and January 1886 to permit testing on the new bridge over the Georges River.
Amplification and electrification
The line was originally constructed as double track between Illawarra Junction and Hurstville with single track thereafter; however, its rising use meant that the line required duplication soon afterwards. The line was duplicated between Hurstville and Loftus Station (with the exception of the Como Bridge over the Georges River) in April 1890, then southward to Waterfall by 12 December 1890. The section of track between Illawarra Junction and Hurstville was quadruplicated between 1913 and 1925.
After duplication in 1890, the original lattice-girder Como Bridge across the Georges River was laid as gauntlet track. This arrangement remained in place for many decades, causing a notorious bottleneck on the line, until the New South Wales Government commissioned John Holland & Co to build a new bridge in 1969. Construction of the new bridge, made of prestressed concrete box girders, commenced in 1969 and was first used by the 18:17 service from Como on 19 November 1972. The old bridge, as well as a former alignment of the line between Mortdale and Oatley replaced in 1905, is now used as a rail trail for pedestrians and cyclists.
The Illawarra Line was the first railway electrified in New South Wales, and was built in conjunction with the construction of the City Railway between Central and St James, opening on 1 March 1926, a few months before the line was connected to the new underground railway. By November 1926 the electric overhead had passed Sutherland and continued to the branch line constructed to the Royal National Park. The line between Loftus and Waterfall remained unelectrified until 1980 and was serviced by steam and then diesel railcars. The Government decided to continue electrification to Wollongong, and the wires were extended to Waterfall on 20 July 1980 and on to Wollongong in January 1986.
Cronulla branch line
Transport in the Cronulla area had commenced after 1895, when a government subdivision between Gunnamatta Bay and Cronulla Beach had occurred, and a number of horse-drawn omnibuses had commenced running between Sutherland Railway Station and the beach. A "Sutherland-Cronulla Tramway League" was formed towards the end of 1900, and they forwarded a petition to Parliament urging the construction of a tramway. The suggested route commenced at the southern end of Sutherland station, proceeded north-east to the Princes Highway, east along the Kingsway, then south past the site of the present rail terminus to Shelly Park in the centre of Cronulla. Approved by the Parliamentary Subcommittee on Public Works in 1908, the single track line, with four stations and a goods siding, was opened on 12 June 1911 at a cost of £37,505.
Suggestions for a heavy rail line to the area were already being made in 1920, when Tom Uglys Bridge was being planned. The Under Secretary for Public Works suggested in 1923 that tramways at Kogarah or Hurstville could be extended to Cronulla to shorten the time of journey to and from Sydney. The Secretary for Railways responded that the tramway could be replaced with an electric railway. In the Secretary's view, an electric railway allowed "a direct service to be given with Sydney and intermediate stations ... [and] would serve the whole district more effectively than would be done by the extension of the tramway across the Georges River towards Cronulla." The Cronulla Chamber of Commerce agreed with the Secretary, suggesting that building a railway would save not only time, but also the cost of fares.
By 1932 the Cronulla tramway had closed. Competing bus services had begun to run with unrestricted competition, and the tram line by this time was so full with services that trams often ran late due to holdups at the crossing loops and passengers missed their connections at Sutherland. The line suffered large losses in its later years, and the effect of the Great Depression at the time forced it to cease its services, the last passenger service operating on 3 August 1931. The goods service continued until 12 January of the next year.
Although the closure of the tramway allowed planning to go ahead for a railway, the planning for the replacement railway line suffered various delays in the 1930s due to funding issues: the line's construction competed with a proposal to electrify the Illawarra Line to Waterfall, and there were disputes over the point at which the line would connect to the main line. Two early proposals to join the line at Como and north of Sutherland Station were rejected. Local residents were also concerned that the railway would increase Council rates in the Cronulla area. Despite the delays, Parliament finally gave approval to the line on 2 March 1936, and a route with five new stations was surveyed that would connect with the main line at the southern side of Sutherland station. The new line was opened on 16 December 1939 by the Governor, Baron Wakehurst at a large ceremony at Cronulla Station.
Although a crossing loop was installed at Caringbah Station and Gymea Station when the line was opened, the single track line prevented the expansion of services to the Cronulla peninsula, and so in the 1980s it was decided to duplicate a 3.5 kilometre section of the line between Gymea and Caringbah, with Gymea. Miranda and Caringbah all receiving island platforms. The new section was opened on 15 July 1985. In the 2000s, the remaining single track sections were duplicated. These opened on 19 April 2010.
A proposed railway station near Sutherland Hospital has been discussed in the community. A 2002 joint study between Sutherland Shire Council and the then named State Rail was rejected, and was said to cost about $35 million. In 2014, a proposal for the station costing $20 million was designed which included two side platforms, street access and a direct ramp to the hospital, and involve an additional minute travel time on the Cronulla branch line.
Other branch lines
Besides the main Cronulla branch, there have been several other branch lines connected from the Illawarra Line. The Bankstown line was initially opened as a branch line from the Illawarra Line to Belmore Station in February 1895, although it was soon extended through to Sefton to the Main South line on 16 July 1928. The East Hills Line was first recommended to the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Public Works in 1916, as an alternate route when the Bankstown Line was being constructed, the line opened to Kingsgrove on 21 September 1931, and to East Hills three months later on 21 December 1931. It was connected to the Main South Line near Glenfield Railway Station on 21 December 1987. The East Hills line experienced a major change in 2000 when the Airport line opened. This saw most East Hills trains using the new line to access the city, providing relief to the section of the Illawarra line between Sydenham and the city.
Two other minor branch lines were also connected further south, to the Royal National Park and to the Woronora Cemetery, both of which have now closed to passenger trains.
Royal National Park branch
The large area of Crown Land now comprising the Royal National Park was gazetted as a National Park in 1879, only the second such area in the world. In 1886 the need for a training ground for the New South Wales infantrymen, riflemen and artillery, prompted the construction of a short branch line into the National Park. It opened on 9 March 1886 along with the extension of the Illawarra Line from Sutherland to Waterfall, and first served passengers at an army camp open day around a month later. The station featured a single station, originally called Loftus, with two terminal roads, several goods sidings and a loading bank to cope with the heavy artillery equipment. A regular service to the Park serving tourists commenced in May 1886, and a short section of the line was duplicated in 1899 to service the multiple trains that travelled there on weekends. When the Illawarra Line was electrified in 1926, this branch was included being the southern extremity until 1980.
Although the army camp closed after the Federation of Australia, the line continued to serve park visitors throughout the 20th century. There was also access to nearby Grays Point. In 1946 a second platform was added on the branch to serve the New South Wales State Scout Jamboree held between December 1946 and January 1947. The terminus was renamed The Royal National Park by June 1955, at the request of the Park's trustees.
The opening of the Cronulla Branch, the building of more roads to the area and other factors led to a decline of services on the branch. Despite a resurgence of passengers in 1978, when the station was rebuilt following the relocation of the Park's Visitors' Centre to the site of the original station, patronage declined to approximately three passengers per train. Until 1990 the line continued to receive regular trains on weekends but when passenger services were temporarily suspended in 1991 due to signalling problems on the branch, CityRail and the State Government decided to close the branch altogether, citing the lack of passengers. Although the branch lay dormant for some time, Parliamentary approval was subsequently given to the Sydney Tramway Museum to operate the line. The Museum converted the branch to light rail standards in order to run their trams on it, and the line was reopened on 1 May 1993, marketed as the ParkLink service. Trams run on the branch on Sundays and public holidays at hourly intervals.
Woronora Cemetery branch
In 1897, land was set aside near Sutherland Station for a denominational cemetery; it was an alternative to a site at Kurnell, which would have required a long branch line. A single track line 822 metres (2,697 ft) long was constructed next to the station and opened on 13 June 1900. A single platform 134.1 m (440.0 ft) long and a loop for engines were included. The first funeral had taken place earlier that year, with the casket arriving by train from Mortuary Station in the city. Due to the advent of the motor car and motorised funerals, funerals by train became rare, and the line eventually closed on 23 May 1947, with no funeral having taken place for some years beforehand. The line and platform were subsequently demolished and removed, and no remains, apart from the original formation coming from the main line, are visible today.
Eastern Suburbs Railway
Proposals for a line to the Eastern Suburbs of Sydney had first been associated with demands in the 1860s that the railway be extended into Sydney's city, rather than terminating at the original Sydney station on the south of city. However, priorities in connecting country areas, and the high cost of a city railway meant that such plans were put aside. In the 1880s, the population of the Eastern Suburbs was small, and a railway would not have been viable. Successive Royal Commissions in 1890 & 1896 recommended a railway be built into the city, with the provision for an Eastern Suburbs extension, but both requests were ignored. Preference at the time, however, was for tramway construction: The Tramways Extension Bill 1880 was passed in 1880 and the tramway network in the Eastern Suburbs spread rapidly, reaching Bondi Beach in 1894, Rose Bay in 1898 and Watson's Bay in 1909. Two other tram lines were also built to Randwick.
In 1916, a plan for the city railways, and an Eastern Suburbs extension was drawn up by the Chief Engineer of the Melbourne Railway Construction, John Bradfield. It was given subsequent approval by Parliament. Bradfield's plan entailed building a City Circle loop, with an extension through to the Eastern Suburbs by means of a viaduct over Woolloomooloo. The line was to extend to Rosebery and Waterloo, with ten stations, linking with the Illawarra Line near Erskineville station.
Upon the passing of the City and Suburban Electric Railways (Amendment) Act in 1947, construction finally commenced on a variation of the Bradfield's proposal. Two lines would be built: one proceeding on a viaduct out to Kings Cross, then eventually to Bondi Beach. Another line would head from St James via Taylor Square and the Sydney Cricket Ground, extending to Kingsford, with a proposal to extend from Taylor Square to Coogee. Construction commenced on sites around Central station but ceased in 1952 due to a recession. Work remained abandoned for over a decade.
In 1967 construction again commenced on yet another variation on Bradfield's design. This involved the earlier route used towards Bondi Junction through Woolloomooloo, then an extension towards Kingsford with five extra stations at Charing Cross, Frenchmans Road, Randwick, University and Kingsford. The New South Wales Government awarded the contract for the civil and structural design to the successful Snowy Mountains Hydro-Electric Authority. An official Legislative Assembly inquiry in 1976, however, recommended that costs on the project be cut, and the extension to Kingsford, a proposed station at Woollahra, and the expansion of concourse areas at Bondi Junction and Martin Place stations did not proceed. Nonetheless, it was resolved to fully integrate the railway with the Illawarra line. The Eastern Suburbs Railway opened between Central station and Bondi Junction on 23 June 1979. Initially trains ran as shuttle services between Central and Bondi Junction; it was not until a year later that work was finished to integrate the lines. A double-track junction with the Illawarra Line at Erskineville south of Illawarra Junction, twin single track tunnels connecting to the Eastern Suburbs Railway platforms at Central, a set of underground platforms at Redfern and a turnback tunnel at Martin Place opened to complete the project on 20 July 1980.
Bondi Junction had originally been intended only as an intermediate turnback station before the extension to Kingsford was abandoned. In 1990 the land set aside for this extension in Randwick and Kingsford was sold. In 2001 the government rejected a proposed extension to Bondi Beach as a public-private partnership, but pledged to increase the capacity of the turnback at the station as part of CityRail's Rail Clearways Program in 2004. The $77 million Bondi Junction Turnback project saw a new rail crossover was built between the single-track tunnels, enabling 20 trains an hour, up from 14, to use the station. Services which ran from the Illawarra Line onto the City Circle were also transferred onto the Eastern Suburbs Line at this time. The work was completed in time for the introduction of the new CityRail timetable on 28 May 2006.
The Illawarra line carries mixed traffic of suburban, interurban and freight traffic. Freight traffic usually operates only to the junction with the Metropolitan line at Tempe, with only passenger services run on the Cronulla branch line and the Eastern Suburbs Railway. A large amount of coal and a lesser amount of other freight are transported by rail on the line daily, although freight trains are restricted from using the suburban lines during peak hours.
Historically, passenger services were provided to the Sydney Central by steam locomotives. The first services to Hurstville were run by steam locomotives of the Q.158 and R.285 classes. When the City Underground opened to St James in 1926, a new electric service was provided to run there. From the time when the line to the Royal National Park was electrified, passengers received a steam train service at first, then when this became expensive, it was replaced by a rail motor service. This arrangement continued until the line was electrified to Waterfall, and the Eastern Suburbs Line was opened. In 1979 the Eastern Suburbs Line being the first line to only use S set double-decker rolling stock. The current running operations for passenger services have remained generally unchanged since 1981 with the integration of the Illawarra line and the Eastern Suburbs Railway. Suburban services utilise Erskineville Junction and proceed to Central and Bondi Junction.
The last S sets were withdrawn from Mortdale Maintenance Depot in March 2013 with all services now provided by Tangara and OSCAR sets. Trains typically operate with 12 services per hour in peak, six services per hour in off-peak, and four to six services per hour on weekends and public holidays.
The line currently has 33 operating stations. Only three stations or platforms have closed, the two stations on the Royal National Park Branch (the main station, which closed in 1991, and the platform for the Scout's Camp, which closed in 1947), and the station on the Woronora Cemetery branch, which also closed in 1947.
|Opened||Railway Line||Serving Suburbs||Other Lines|
|Bondi Junction - Sutherland|
|Bondi Junction||BJN||6.76||23 June 1979||Eastern Suburbs||Bondi Junction, Woollahra||NSW TrainLink*
*peak hours and weekends only
|Edgecliff||ECL||4.82||23 June 1979||Eastern Suburbs||Edgecliff, Darling Point||NSW TrainLink*
*peak hours and weekends only
|Kings Cross||KSX||3.41||23 June 1979||Eastern Suburbs||Kings Cross, Rushcutters Bay||NSW TrainLink*
*peak hours and weekends only
|Martin Place||MPC||2.10||23 June 1979||Eastern Suburbs||Sydney CBD||NSW TrainLink*
*peak hours and weekends only
|Town Hall||THL||1.21||28 February 1932||Eastern Suburbs||Sydney, Darling Harbour||■ North Shore, Northern & Western Line
■ Airport, Inner West & South Line
■ Bankstown Line
*peak hours and weekends only
|Central||SBO||0||28 February 1855||Eastern Suburbs||Central, Strawberry Hills
Ultimo, Surry Hills
|■ North Shore, Northern & Western Line
■ Airport, Inner West & South Line
■ Bankstown Line
|Redfern||RDF||1.30||15 April 1878||Illawarra Relief||Redfern, Waterloo, Darlington
|■ North Shore, Northern & Western Line
■ Airport, Inner West & South Line
■ Bankstown Line
*peak hours only, with South Coast Line services also on weekends
|Sydenham||SDN||5.30||15 October 1884||Illawarra||Sydenham, Marrickville||■ Airport, Inner West & South Line*
■ Bankstown Line
*peak hours only
|Tempe||TME||6.84||16 October 1884||Illawarra||Tempe, Undercliffe|
|Wolli Creek||WOC||7.30||21 May 2000||Illawarra||Wolli Creek, Arncliffe||■ Airport, Inner West & South Line
|Arncliffe||ACL||8.42||16 October 1884||Illawarra||Arncliffe|
|Banksia||BKA||9.60||21 October 1906||Illawarra||Banksia|
|Rockdale||RKL||10.41||15 October 1884||Illawarra||Rockdale, Bexley|
|Kogarah||KGH||11.61||15 October 1884||Illawarra||Kogarah|
|Carlton||CLJ||12.74||1 January 1887||Illawarra||Carlton|
|Allawah||AWH||13.69||15 November 1925||Illawarra||Allawah|
|Hurstville||HVL||14.84||15 October 1884||Illawarra||Hurstville, Hurstville South||NSW TrainLink|
|Mortdale||MDE||17.06||20 March 1897||Illawarra||Mortdale|
|Como||CMO||21.24||26 December 1885||Illawarra||Como, Como West|
|Jannali||JNL||22.22||7 September 1931||Illawarra||Jannali|
|Sutherland||SLD||24.46||26 December 1885||Illawarra||Sutherland||NSW TrainLink|
|Sutherland - Waterfall|
|Loftus||LOF||26.29||9 March 1886||Illawarra||Loftus, Yarrawarrah|
|Engadine||EGD||30.75||1 October 1920||Illawarra||Engadine, Woronora Heights|
|Heathcote||HTC||33.15||9 March 1886||Illawarra||Heathcote|
|Waterfall||WFL||38.74||9 March 1886||Illawarra||Waterfall||NSW TrainLink|
|Sutherland - Cronulla|
|Kirrawee||KEE||26.64||16 December 1939||Cronulla||Kirrawee|
|Gymea||GYM||27.94||16 December 1939||Cronulla||Gymea|
|Miranda||MIJ||29.51||16 December 1939||Cronulla||Miranda|
|Caringbah||CIH||31.51||16 December 1939||Cronulla||Caringbah|
|Woolooware||WOE||33.60||16 December 1939||Cronulla||Woolooware|
|Cronulla||CNL||34.81||16 December 1939||Cronulla||Cronulla|
The stopping patterns on the Eastern Suburbs & Illawarra Line have generally centred around several different termini. The steam era saw these termini change quite frequently as more terminating facilities were constructed: the first trains on the line after the Waterfall extension in 1887 either ran to Hurstville (16 per day), Sutherland (two per day) and Waterfall (two per day), with all trains stopping at every intermediate station. By 1907, however, Como and Oatley had been added to the list of termini, with nine and seven trains per day respectively. Seven trains per day at this time also ran to Sutherland, and one to Waterfall. Most trains terminated at Hurstville.
Since electrification, the terminus stations for suburban trains have remained consistent. From 1926 trains terminated at either Hurstville, Sutherland and The National Park. With the opening of the Cronulla branch in 1939, Cronulla become the fourth major terminus. In 1980 Waterfall was electrified and replaced The Royal National Park as a terminus, having been served by a diesel-operated shuttle service until then.
Today, the Eastern Suburbs & Illawarra line generally operates with five termini, at Hurstville, Mortdale, Sutherland, Cronulla and Waterfall. The vast majority of trains operate to Bondi Junction, mostly using the following patterns:
Stopping Patterns (as of October 2013)
- Bondi Junction, all stations to Central, Redfern, Sydenham, Tempe, all stations to Mortdale, Sutherland and then all stations to Waterfall (every 30 minutes)
- Bondi Junction, all stations to Central, Redfern, Sydenham, Wolli Creek, Rockdale, Kogarah, Hurstville, Oatley, Jannali, Sutherland and then all stations to Cronulla (every 30 minutes)
- Bondi Junction, all stations to Central, Redfern, Sydenham, Wolli Creek, Rockdale and then all stations to Cronulla (every 30 minutes)
- Bondi Junction, all stations to Central, Redfern, Sydenham, Tempe and then all stations to Hurstville (every 10 minutes)
- Bondi Junction, all stations to Central, Redfern, Wolli Creek, Hurstville, Oatley and then all stations to Waterfall (every 20 minutes)
- Bondi Junction, all stations to Central, Redfern, Wolli Creek, Hurstville, Penshurst, Mortdale, Jannali, Sutherland and then all stations to Cronulla (every 20 minutes)
- Bondi Junction, all stations to Central, Redfern, Wolli Creek, Hurstville, Penshurst, Mortdale, Oatley, Jannali, Sutherland and then all stations to Cronulla (every 20 minutes)
- Bondi Junction, all stations to Central, Redfern, Sydenham, Tempe, all stations to Mortdale, Jannali, Sutherland and then all stations to Waterfall (every 30 minutes)
- Bondi Junction, all stations to Central, Redfern, Sydenham, Wolli Creek, Rockdale, Kogarah, Hurstville and then all stations to Cronulla (every 30 minutes)
- Bondi Junction, all stations to Central, Redfern, Sydenham, Wolli Creek, Rockdale, Kogarah, Hurstville, Mortdale, Sutherland and then all stations to Cronulla (every 30 minutes)
Since the opening of the Bondi Junction Turnback project in 2006, all trains have stopped at all stations on the Eastern Suburbs Line.
In the event that trackwork shuts down the Eastern Suburbs section of the line (i.e. from Central to Bondi Junction), trains from the Illawarra line will either divert through to the City Circle or towards North Sydney on the North Shore Line.
In 2009–2010, 97.65% of all Eastern suburbs and Illawarra services ran on-time, ranking it the most reliable line on the CityRail network.
Planning experts recognised a need to expand capacity on the Eastern Suburbs Line. In 2002, former CityRail chairman Ron Christie released a report, the "Long-term strategic plan for rail", 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. The report highlighted the problems facing the network at that time and noted that capacity on Illawarra Line trains was often at 120%, and that 180% was not unexpected. Christie said that by 2011 there would be no capacity on the Eastern Suburbs Line for trains coming from the Illawarra Line. To address this, the NSW Government constructed the Bondi Junction Turnback, which enables an additional six trains per hour to terminate at the station. To take advantage of the new infrastructure, a new timetable was introduced in May 2006 which reduced the overcrowding.
A second project, the full duplication of the Cronulla branch line, was completed in 2010. This increases the capacity of the branch line from four to eight trains per hour. The line between Oatley, Sutherland and Cronulla also received signalling upgrades to allow more services to run at shorter intervals. A new timetable with extra services was introduced on 10 October 2010.
It is proposed in the 2007 NSW State Plan that by 2017, the line capacity between Hurstville and Sutherland will be amplified to allow extra services to and from Cronulla, as well as for services accessing the Mortdale Maintenance Centre. The 2010 Metropolitan Transport Plan made no mention of the project.
Ron Christie's "Long-term strategic plan for rail" report suggested that several "metro" lines be built to service new areas and to relieve capacity on existing lines. These included a metro line to supplement the Illawarra Line. The route would go from Cronulla to Miranda along the existing tracks, then along a reserved corridor for the F6 Southern Freeway up to Sydney Airport. The line would then extend to the Sydney CBD then to Sydney's Northern Beaches via Chatswood. Christie suggested that even if the entire line were not to be built, the first stage between Cronulla, the Airport and the City would provide "essential capacity relief" for the Illawarra line which would be "severely capacity-constrained" within two decades. Both heavy rail and light rail were mooted as transport suggestions.
Christie was not the only person to suggest the F6 Corridor as an alternative. In 2002, former Minister for Transport Carl Scully officially abandoned the corridor, reserved since 1951 for the extension of the Southern Freeway north to St Peters, and suggested that light rail, bus-only roads or high-frequency train services could run on the corridor. He wished to encourage innovative public transport solutions in the area, while maintaining the green space available near Botany Bay. The plan received support from environmental groups, with environmental transport group EcoTransit proposing their own 25.5 km (15.8 mi) light rail line to supplement the Illawarra Line on the reservation, called the "Bay Light Express". Since 2005, however, the future of an alternative corridor has been in doubt, with State Treasurer Michael Costa announcing that the corridor would again be reserved for a motorway; however metro lines remain on the Government's agenda for the future and a rapid transit line supplementing the Illawarra Line may be possible in the future.
Operators and companies connected to the line
- Sydney Trains – operator of services on the line.
- Transport Infrastructure Development Corporation – State-owned corporation constructing the upgrade to the Cronulla Line.
Other railways in the area
- South Coast Line – connects to the line at its southern end.
- Trams in Sydney – details on other tramway services in the Southern Suburbs of Sydney in the 19th and early 20th centuries.
General articles on railways in Sydney
- List of Sydney railway stations
- Railways in Sydney
- Rail transport in New South Wales
- Sydney underground railways – other underground lines in Sydney
- Fulton, Adam, "Rail users happy with Illawarra", Sydney Morning Herald 11 May 1989,page 4
- Rail Corporation New South Wales, "Network Map - Sydney Train" Retrieved 1 July 2013.
- Public Transport Commission of New South Wales (1979), The story of the Eastern Suburbs Railway. Public Transport Commission of New South Wales: Sydney page 13.
- Rail Corporation New South Wales, Illawarra Line Track Diagram. Retrieved 9 September 2002.
- Forsyth, J.H. (ed.) (1988–93), Stations & Tracks; Vol. 1: "Main Suburban & Branches – Illawarra & Branches". State Rail Authority of New South Wales: Sydney, pp. 169–70.
- Letter from Mr R. Stephens, Surveyor, to John Whitton, Engineer-in-Chief, New South Wales Railways, 20 April 1874. Cited in Forsyth, J.H. (ed.) (1988–93), Stations & Tracks; Vol. 1: "Main Suburban & Branches – Illawarra & Branches". State Rail Authority of New South Wales: Sydney, pp. 169–70.
- Forsyth, J.H. (ed.) (1988–93), Stations & Tracks; Vol. 1: "Main Suburban & Branches – Illawarra & Branches". State Rail Authority of New South Wales: Sydney, p. 171.
- Bozier, Rolfe, "South Coast Line". Retrieved 25 January 2007.
- Forsyth, J.H. (ed.) (1988–93), Stations & Tracks; Vol. 1: "Main Suburban & Branches – Illawarra & Branches". State Rail Authority of New South Wales: Sydney, p. 172.
- Bozier, Rolfe, "New South Wales Railways: Waterfall Railway Station". Retrieved 11 January 2007.
- Forsyth, J.H. (ed.) (1988–93), Stations & Tracks; Vol. 1: "Main Suburban & Branches – Illawarra & Branches". State Rail Authority of New South Wales: Sydney, p. 100.
- Dewick, Craig, "Railzone FAQ#2: What is gauntlet track?"[dead link]. Retrieved 11 January 2007.
- Forsyth, J.H. (ed.) (1988–93), Stations & Tracks; Vol. 1: "Main Suburban & Branches – Illawarra & Branches". State Rail Authority of New South Wales: Sydney, p. 121.
- "RailTrails Australia: Como Railway Bridge – Trail Description". Retrieved 11 January 2007.
- Lukaszyk, Anita, "Neety's Train Page – Electrification" (Table sourced from Historic Electric Traction). Railpage Australia: Melbourne. Retrieved 11 January 2007.
- Forsyth, J.H. (ed.) (1988–93), Stations & Tracks; Vol. 1: "Main Suburban & Branches – Illawarra & Branches". State Rail Authority of New South Wales: Sydney, pp. 208–10.
- Neve, Peter (1997), "Railways (and tramways) in the Sutherland Shire": (Sutherland Shire Studies No. 6), Sutherland Shire Council. Retrieved 4 March 2013.
- Forsyth, J.H. (ed.) (1988–93), Stations & Tracks; Vol. 1: "Main Suburban & Branches – Illawarra & Branches". State Rail Authority of New South Wales: Sydney, p. 211.
- Forsyth, J.H. (ed.) (1988–93), Stations & Tracks; Vol. 1: "Main Suburban & Branches – Illawarra & Branches". State Rail Authority of New South Wales: Sydney, p. 214.
- Bozier, Rolfe, "New South Wales Railways: Cronulla Line: History". Accessed 11 January 2007.
- Forsyth, J.H. (ed.) (1988–93), Stations & Tracks; Vol. 1: "Main Suburban & Branches – Illawarra & Branches". State Rail Authority of New South Wales: Sydney, p. 216.
- Forsyth, J.H. (ed.) (1988–93), Stations & Tracks; Vol. 1: "Main Suburban & Branches – Illawarra & Branches". State Rail Authority of New South Wales: Sydney, p. 206.
- Timetable and platform changes on the Cronulla branch line CityRail. Retrieved 4 March 2013
- "Poll: Sutherland Hospital rail plan aims to ease traffic". The Leader. Retrieved 8 August 2014.
- Forsyth, J.H. (ed.) (1988–93), Stations & Tracks; Vol. 1: "Main Suburban & Branches – Illawarra & Branches". State Rail Authority of New South Wales: Sydney, p. 177.
- Forsyth, J.H. (ed.) (1988–93), Stations & Tracks; Vol. 1: "Main Suburban & Branches – Illawarra & Branches". State Rail Authority of New South Wales: Sydney, p. 195.
- Bozier, Rolfe, "New South Wales Railways: East Hills Line: History". Retrieved 11 January 2007.
- New South Wales National Parks & Wildlife Service, "Royal National Park". Retrieved 13 January 2013.
- Bozier, Rolfe, "New South Wales Railways: Royal National Park Branch: Description". Retrieved 11 January 2007.
- Bozier, Rolfe, "New South Wales Railways: Royal National Park Branch: Description". Accessed 11 January 2007.
- State Rail Authority of New South Wales, Sutherland Timetable, commencing 29 April 1991, cited in "NSW Rail Historical Timetables: CityRail". Retrieved 30 December 2006.
- Christopher Downy MLA, Private Members Statements, "Sydney Tramway Museum": New South Wales Legislative Assembly: Hansard, 25 February 1992, Article 25. Retrieved 11 January 2007.
- Sydney Tramway Museum, "Our Vintage Tram Routes", Railpage Australia: Melbourne. Retrieved 11 January 2007.
- Forsyth, J.H. (ed.) (1988–93), Stations & Tracks; Vol. 1: "Main Suburban & Branches – Illawarra & Branches". State Rail Authority of New South Wales: Sydney, p. 125.
- Public Transport Commission of New South Wales (1979), The story of the Eastern Suburbs Railway. Public Transport Commission of New South Wales: Sydney, p. 4.
- Public Transport Commission of New South Wales (1979), The story of the Eastern Suburbs Railway. Public Transport Commission of New South Wales: Sydney, pp. 5–6.
- Keenan, D. (1979), Tramways of Sydney. Transit Press: Sydney, p. 2
- "Australasian Tunnelling Society: Eastern Suburbs Railway - Sydney". Retrieved 4 March 2013.
- "Trendy's Train Page: Woollahra Station". Retrieved 11 January 2007.
- Forsyth, J.H. (ed.) (1988–93), Stations & Tracks; Vol. 1: "Main Suburban & Branches – Illawarra & Branches". State Rail Authority of New South Wales: Sydney, p. 42.
- "Sales On and Off" Railway Digest December 1989 page 402
- Carl Scully MLA, "Media Release: Bondi Beach Rail Link", New South Wales Government, 21 May 2001 (PANDORA Archive). Retrieved 10 January 2007.
- Transport Infrastructure Development Corporation, "Bondi Junction Turnback: Project Profile"[dead link]. Retrieved 11 January 2007.
- "Bondi rail project 'to boost efficiency'", Sydney Morning Herald, 17 April 2006. Retrieved 11 January 2007.
- Transport Infrastructure Development Corporation, "Media Release: Bondi Junction Clearways Project Completed"[dead link], 1 May 2006. Retrieved 11 January 2007.
- Australian Rail Track Corporation, "Southern Sydney Freight Line: Index". Retrieved 11 January 2007.
- Forsyth, J.H. (ed.) (1988–93), Stations & Tracks; Vol. 1: "Main Suburban & Branches – Illawarra & Branches". State Rail Authority of New South Wales: Sydney, p. 174.
- Rail Corporation New South Wales, "CityRail Timetables: Eastern Suburbs & Illawarra Line". Retrieved 11 January 2007.
- Bozier, Rolfe, "New South Wales Railways: NSW Station Codes". Retrieved 19 June 2002.
- Sourced from Forsyth, J.H. (ed.) (1988–93), Stations & Tracks; Vol. 1: "Main Suburban & Branches – Illawarra & Branches". State Rail Authority of New South Wales: Sydney, pp. 42–44, 101–128, 206–208 passim, except where noted.
- The Eastern Suburbs Railway platforms for Town Hall and Central stations opened 23 June 1979. Cited in Forsyth, J.H. (ed.) (1988–93), Stations & Tracks; Vol. 1: "Main Suburban & Branches – Illawarra & Branches". State Rail Authority of New South Wales: Sydney, pp. 42–43.
- The Eastern Suburbs Railway platforms at Redfern opened 20 July 1980. These platforms are located at 1.318 kilometres (0.8 mi) from Central. Cited in Forsyth, J.H. (ed.) (1988–93), Stations & Tracks; Vol. 1: "Main Suburban & Branches – Illawarra & Branches". State Rail Authority of New South Wales: Sydney, p. 42.
- Bozier, Rolfe, "New South Wales Railways: Airport Line: History". Retrieved 24 January 2007.
- The official records do not give a specific date of opening for Penshurst or Oatley stations; only a year. Cited in Forsyth, J.H. (ed.) (1988–93), Stations & Tracks; Vol. 1: "Main Suburban & Branches – Illawarra & Branches". State Rail Authority of New South Wales: Sydney, pp. 118 & 120.
- Sourced from Rail Corporation New South Wales, "CityRail – The Timetable"; accessed 28 January 2007.
- "RailCorp_performance_2009-10.". RailCorp. Retrieved 2 September 2011.
- Goodsir, Darren & Kerr, Joseph, "Exposed: Fast Track To Rail Chaos", Sydney Morning Herald, 25 February 2002, p. 1.
- 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. Retrieved 11 January 2007.
- Australian Associated Press, "Trains running on time for timetable day two", 6 September 2005. Retrieved 11 January 2007.
- "CityRail Xpress", edition 126, 21 April 2010.
- New South Wales State Government, "New South Wales State Plan"[dead link], 2006, Appendix, pp. 2, 3 & 5. Retrieved 30 December 2006.
- "2010 timetable".[dead link]
- Christie, Ron, "Long-term strategic plan for rail: overview report: Greater Sydney metropolitan region" – Chapter 5, Action for Public Transport New South Wales, June 2001. Retrieved 11 January 2007.
- Goodsir, Darren, "Buses, light rail replace freeway plan", Sydney Morning Herald, 7 September 2002. Retrieved 12 January 2007.
- EcoTransit, Bay Light Express: Bay Light West". Retrieved 1 February 2003.
- Smith, Alexandra, "Scully buried it, now Costa resurrects F6", Sydney Morning Herald, 16 March 2005. Retrieved 13 January 2007.
- New South Wales Government, "Urban Transport Statement 2006: Metro lines: part of Sydney's transport future?"[dead link]. Retrieved 12 January 2007.
- Books and articles
- Keenan, D.R. (1979), Tramways in Sydney, Sydney: Transit Press, ISBN 0-909338-02-7
- Neve, P. (1997), Railways (and tramways) in the Sutherland Shire (Sutherland Shire Studies No. 6), Sutherland Shire Council, retrieved 14 March 2013
- New South Wales Public Transport Commission (1979), The story of the Eastern Suburbs Railway, Sydney: New South Wales Public Transport Commission
- Forsyth, J. H., ed. (1988–93), Stations & Tracks: Vol. 1: Main Suburban & Branches, Illawarra & Branches, Sydney: State Rail Authority of New South Wales, Archive Section
- Web sites
- Bozier, Rolfe (December 1999). "New South Wales Railways:South Coast Line". Retrieved 12 January 2007. – information, pictures and data on the Eastern Suburbs & Illawarra Line.
- Christie, Ron (June 2001). "Long-term Strategic Plan for Rail: Greater Sydney metropolitan region". Government of New South Wales. Retrieved 12 January 2007.
- Sydney Trains timetable – Waterfall or Cronulla to Bondi Junction
- Sydney Trains timetable – Bondi Junction to Waterfall or Cronulla
- Neety's Train Page: ESR/Illawarra Line: Names and Meanings – meanings of station names on the line, and photos of stations.
- New South Wales Government State Plan
- Public Transport Ticketing – includes pictures of the original tickets sold on the Eastern Suburbs Line in 1979.
- Railpix Australia – Quality Rail images: The Illawarra Line