Main North railway line, New South Wales

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For other railways called Main North Line, see Main North Line. For other railways called Great Northern, see Great Northern Railway.
Main North Line
Hawkesbury River rail bridge.jpg
Bridge over the Hawkesbury River
Technical
Line length 780 km (480 mi)
Track gauge 1,435 mm (4 ft 8 12 in)
Route map
012 Main Suburban line at Strathfield
North Strathfield
Concord West
Rhodes
Meadowbank
West Ryde
Denistone
Eastwood
Epping to Chatswood line
23 Epping
North West Rail Linkunder construction
Cheltenham
Beecroft
Pennant Hills
Thornleigh
Normanhurst
North Shore Line to Sydney
034 Hornsby
Asquith
Mount Colah
Mount Kuring-Gai
45 Berowra
limit of suburban passenger services
Cowan
Boronia Tunnels x 4
Hawkesbury River
Long Island Tunnel
Hawkesbury River
Mullet Creek Tunnel
Wondabyne
Woy Woy Tunnel
Woy Woy
Koolewong
Tascott
Point Clare
Brisbane Water
Gosford Racecourseclosed
081 Gosford
Narara
Niagara Park
Lisarow
Ourimbah
Tuggerah
101 Wyong
Warnervale
Wyee
Vales Point coal unloader
Morisset
Dora Creek
Eraring coal unloader
Awaba
Wangi Power Station
Toronto lineclosed
Fassifern
Newstan colliery
Booragul
Teralba
Boolaroo
Boolaroo Racecourse
Cockle Creek
Sulphide Junction Platform
Cardiff
Tickhole Tunnel
Kotara
Belmont lineclosed
Adamstown
163 Broadmeadow
Newcastle Line to Newcastle
limit of electrification
Goninan Broadmeadow depot
to Port Waratah
Waratah
"Hanbury Dive"
Wallsend lineclosed
Warabrook (University)
Kooragang Island coal loaders
Sandgate Cemetery branchclosed
Sandgate
Sandgate Flyover
Hexham
Richmond Vale railway lineclosed
Tarro
Thornton
Bloomfield Colliery
Metford
Victoria Street
East Maitland
Morpeth lineclosed
High Street
193 Maitland
South Maitland Railway
North Coast line to Brisbane
Farley
Lochinvar
Allandale
Greta
Whitburn Colliery
Branxton
Belford
Minimbah
Whittingham
Hunter Valley collieries line
239 Singleton
Hunter River
Camberwell and Rixs Creek collieries
Nundah
Glennies Creek
Mount Owen colliery
Ravensworth
Bayswater Power Station
Hunter Valley collieries line
Mount Arthur and Drayton collieries
Antiene
Grasstree
Muswellbrook
Merriwa line to Ulan and Gulgong
Koolbury
Dartbrook colliery
Aberdeen
315 Scone
limit of intercity passenger services
Parkville
Wingen
Murrulla
Blandford
Murrurundi
Temple Court
Ardglen Tunnel
Ardglen
Kankool
Willow Tree
Braefield
Quirindi
Quipolly
411 Werris Creek
Mungindi line
Warrigundi
Currabubula
Belgamba
Duri
Warral
Barraba line
West Tamworth
455 Tamworth
Nemingah
Tintinhull
Kootingal
Limbri
Danglemah
Woolbrook
Walcha Road
Wollun
Kentucky South
Kentucky
Uralla
Kellys Plains
579 Armidale
limit of passenger services
Dumaresq
Exmouth
Black Mountain
Guyra
Llangothlin
Ben Lomond
Glencoe
Stonehenge
Glen Innes
Yarraford
Dundee
Deepwater
Greenley
Bolivia
Sandy Flat
Bungulla
Tenterfield
Sunnyside
792 Wallangarra and Queensland Border

The Main North Line (also known as the Great Northern Railway) is a major railway in New South Wales, Australia. It runs through the Central Coast, Hunter and New England regions. The line was the original main line between Sydney and Brisbane, however this required a change of gauge at Wallangarra. The line is now closed north of Armidale, with the main route between Sydney and Brisbane now the North Coast line.

Description of route[edit]

The line starts as a branch off the Main Suburban line at Strathfield in Sydney. The line heads north as a double track electrified line through the northern suburbs of Sydney, crossing the Hawkesbury River Railway Bridge, before passing through the Central Coast.

At Fassifern, a former branch line to Toronto divided off in an eastwards direction until closed in 1990. The line continues north to Broadmeadow in the inner western suburbs of Newcastle. North of Broadmeadow is the junction with the Newcastle branch line. Electrification of the main line ends at Broadmeadow but continues along the Newcastle branch line.

The line was electrified to Gosford in January 1960, Wyong in April 1982[1] and Newcastle in June 1984.[2] Freight trains were hauled by electric locomotives until March 1998.[3]

Pacific National 92 class locomotives hauling a coal train over the Hunter River at Singleton
Wallangarra station

The line then swings westwards as four tracks (two main line and two coal roads) through the outer suburbs of Newcastle to Maitland. Maitland is the junction of the North Coast line which continues to Brisbane. The line becomes double track immediately west of Maitland and heads through the Upper Hunter Valley through the townships of Branxton, Singleton and Muswellbrook where the double track ends.

Muswellbrook is the junction point for the cross country line to Sandy Hollow and Gulgong. The Main North continues northwards through the Ardglen Tunnel to Werris Creek, where the Mungindi Line branches off to Moree, and a cross country branch continues to Binnaway and ultimately Dubbo.

The line continues north, but sees limited traffic beyond Werris Creek. The line reaches the major New England towns of Tamworth and Armidale, the latter being the northernmost extent of service on the line. Until the mid-2000s freight traffic continued to the disused station at Dumaresq which is home to a now-also-disused agricultural fertilizer depot. There is now wire across the corridor at several points between Armidale and Dumaresq, after which the line is for all intents and purposes closed. A block is placed across the tracks at the 590 kilometre mark (a short distance on from Dumaresq), and north of Glen Innes the line, particularly its bridges, has fallen into disrepair. In December 1991 the line was severed when the Road and Traffic Authority built a deviation of the New England Highway over the line at Bluff Rock south of Tenterfield.[4] At Wallangarra the line met Queensland's Southern railway line.

History[edit]

An abandoned section of the Main North line north of Armidale with a post marking the distance from Sydney Central station
Wallangarra rail ticket 1989

The first section of the Main North line was built from the port of Newcastle to Victoria Street, Maitland in 1857[5] and extended to Singleton in 1863, Muswellbrook and Murrurundi in 1872, Werris Creek and west Tamworth in 1878, Armidale in 1883 and Wallangarra, Queensland in 1888.[6]

The Sydney to Newcastle section, Homebush to Waratah, had difficult topography to overcome, including crossing the Hawkesbury River, traversing the Mullet Creek bank and constructing the Woy Woy Tunnel. From the south, the line was opened between Homebush and Hornsby in 1886, then extended to Hawkesbury River in 1887. From the north, the line opened between Waratah and Gosford in 1887.[6] Progress in the construction of the last section between Hawkesbury River and Gosford occurred when the Woy Woy Tunnel opened in 1887, then Mullet Creek to Gosford in 1888 and finally Hawkesbury River to Mullet Creek in 1889 when the original Hawkesbury River Railway Bridge was built.[7]

In 1892, the line was duplicated from Strathfield to Hornsby,[8] and electrified in 1926 as part of the Bradfield electrification scheme.

Branch lines[edit]

Several lines branch from the Main North Line, including:

Services[edit]

The line was serviced by the overnight Northern Mail until it ceased in November 1988.[9] The Northern Tablelands Express provided a daylight service to Glen Innes, with some journeys extended to Tenterfield until truncated in October 1985 to Armidale[10] and in February 1990 to Tamworth.[11]

NSW TrainLink operates regional and intercity passenger services along the Main North line. A daily train operates from Sydney to Werris Creek before dividing, one operating along the Main North line to Armidale, the other section operating along the North-West line to Moree. Intercity passenger services operate between Sydney and Newcastle and between Newcastle, Maitland and Scone, with a branch to Dungog on the North Coast line. Sydney Trains operates suburban passenger services in the section between Strathfield and Berowra.

The section between Strathfield and Maitland forms part of the interstate line between Sydney and Brisbane and sees intermodal freight traffic carried between the two cities. The section of line in the Hunter Valley sees intensive coal train working, with the section between Broadmeadow and Maitland one of the busiest freight lines in Australia.

Developments[edit]

The line was hampered by the rugged terrain and a change of gauge at Wallangarra for traffic to Queensland. The line was superseded as the principal route to Brisbane by the completion of the North Coast Line in 1930. Despite being bypassed, the line remained busy for many years afterwards, with the line instead becoming the major freight link to the wheat and wool regions of northern and north-west New South Wales.

In 1988 the line between Tenterfield and Wallangarra was closed. The last train to operate north of Tenterfield was an Australian Railway Historical Society charter on 15 January 1988 hauled by diesel locomotive 4487.[12] The last train to operate north of Glen Innes was hauled by steam locomotive 3001 on 22 October 1989 after which the line was formally closed.[13][14]

Following the Northern Tablelands Express being truncated in February 1990, the line north of Tamworth saw little use until the Xplorer service was introduced to Armidale in October 1993. The line to Glen Innes was still open in July 1992 when diesel locomotive 4499 operated a crew training service.[15]

There have been attempts to revive freight or tourist traffic to as far as Glen Innes, although these plans have not yet succeeded.

A section of the line between Waratah and Maitland is quadruple track, with one pair being used exclusively for coal trains within the Hunter Valley coal trains and the other pair being used by passenger trains and general freight. The coal tracks from Port Waratah join the line on the eastern side of the other tracks at Scholey Street Junction and pass underneath the other tracks at Hanbury Dive just west of Maud Street, continuing to Maitland on the western side of the other tracks.

In the November 1989 a fourth track was added between Eastwood and West Ryde.[16] In the mid-1990s a loop was constructed at Cowan.

The Sandgate Flyover was constructed in 2006 to allow the two passenger/freight tracks to rise and pass over the coal tracks that branch off to Kooragang Island in order to eliminate a capacity restriction caused by the long coal trains crossing the other tracks at grade. Because of the location of the overpass relative to the branch to Kooragang Island, a short section of the line has 6 parallel tracks. The bridge carrying Sandgate Road over the lines had to modified to allow for the additional lines. Sandgate station is flanked by a pair of coal tracks on each side.

As part of the Rail Clearways Program, in August 2006 an additional platform was opened at Berowra,[17] and in March 2009 an additional platform and passing loop was opened at Hornsby.[18]

In 2011 the Northern Sydney Freight Corridor project commenced to improve access for freight trains. This has seen the completion of a loop at Hexham in June 2012,[19] with an underpass and loop being constructed between North Strathfield and Rhodes,[20] a third track between Epping and Pennant Hills[21] and two loops between Gosford and Narara.[22] These are due for completion in 2015/16.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Railway Sign Official Opening Gosford - Wyong Electrification 3 April 1982 Powerhouse Museum Collection
  2. ^ "The Official Opening of Newcastle Rail Electrification" Railway Digest July 1984 page 218
  3. ^ "Electric Locos" Railway Digest June 1998 page 35
  4. ^ "Line cut at Bluff Rock" Railway Digest March 1992 page 90
  5. ^ Centenary of the Newcastle-Maitland Railway Wylie, RF Australian Railway Historical Society Bulletin, March 1957 pp33-45
  6. ^ a b "Main North Line". www.nswrail.net. Retrieved 2006-12-03. 
  7. ^ Opening of the Hawkesbury Bridge, The Sydney Morning Herald, Thursday 2 May 1889, p.7 (accessed 30 June 2011)
  8. ^ "NSW Railway Passenger Services 1880-1905.". Australian Railway History, April 2005. ARHS NSW Division. 
  9. ^ "Requiem for a Mail" Railway Digest January 1989 page 14
  10. ^ "More Timetable Changes" Railway Digest November 1985 page 326
  11. ^ "The New Timetable" Railway Digest March 1990 page 95
  12. ^ "To the Border or Bust" Railway Digest March 1988 page 99
  13. ^ "Gone: "Irish Lyn" and Trains - But at Least the Lizards are Safe" Railway Digest December 1989 page 399
  14. ^ "Glen Innes" Railway Digest December 1989 page 412
  15. ^ Railway Digest October 1992 page 404
  16. ^ "Eastwood - West Ryde Up Suburban line opens" Railway Digest January 1990 page 9
  17. ^ A new platform for Berowra Station from Monday 28 August CityRail 22 August 2006
  18. ^ First Trains Set to Roll into New Hornsby Platform Minister for Transport 11 March 2009
  19. ^ Northern Sydney Freight Corridor: One Down; Three To Go Minister for Infrastructure and Transport 20 July 2012
  20. ^ North Strathfield Rail Underpass Transport for NSW
  21. ^ Epping to Thornleigh Third Track Transport for NSW
  22. ^ Gosford Passing Loops Transport for NSW

External links[edit]