Hunter Line

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Hunter Line
J5 at Warabrook.jpg
Service typeIntercity rail
LocaleHunter Region, New South Wales
Current operator(s)NSW TrainLink
EndScone, Dungog
Line(s) usedNewcastle
Main Northern
North Coast
Rolling stockEndeavour & Hunter railcars
Track gauge1,435 mm (4 ft 8 12 in) standard gauge
Track owner(s)RailCorp

The Hunter Line is a NSW TrainLink passenger train service that operates from Newcastle to Dungog and Scone in the New South Wales Hunter Region. It operates on the Newcastle, Main North and North Coast lines.

History and features[edit]

Hunter Line services operate from Newcastle on the Newcastle branch line to Islington Junction, the Main North line between Islington Junction and Scone, the North Coast line between Maitland and Dungog. The Hunter Line shares its portion of the Main Northern Line with North Western regional services.

The Main North line, formerly known as the Great Northern Railway (GNR), was the original mainline between Sydney and Brisbane. This line, which ran via Armidale and required a change of train due to the break-of-gauge at Wallangarra, was opened to East Maitland in 1857[1] and Maitland in 1858. It reached Singleton in 1863, Muswellbrook in 1869, and Scone in 1871.

The GNR was then extended beyond Scone to West Tamworth in 1878, Armidale in 1883, and reached the Queensland border at Wallangarra in 1888. The North Coast line to Brisbane, via the North Coast was opened in stages between 1905 and 1930, but a ferry carried trains across the Clarence River until the Grafton Bridge was completed in 1932. The Newcastle rail network remained independent of the main network radiating from Sydney until 1889, when the line between Sydney and Newcastle was completed with the opening of the Hawkesbury River Railway Bridge. Thus Newcastle was connected by rail with Wallangarra before it was connected with Sydney, such was the difficulty and expense of reaching and bridging the Hawkesbury River.

Between Islington Junction and Maitland, there is a four track section where the line runs parallel to the Newcastle coal lines, which serve a number of collieries along the route.


Services run regularly between Newcastle and Telarah, with infrequent services to Dungog, Muswellbrook and Scone.[2] Services are operated by Endeavour and Hunter railcars.

Until 2007, 620/720 class railcars operated the service. The line was the last in Australia to have a regular steam hauled passenger service. The final service was hauled from Newcastle to Singleton on 24 July 1971 by 3246.[3] Diesel locomotive hauled services operated until replaced by 620/720 and 660/760 class railcars in 1984.

The line was truncated to terminate at Hamilton from 5 January 2015.[4] It was extended to Newcastle Interchange when this opened on 15 October 2017.

Trains that service the line have two carriages, while some peak hour services have four carriages. There are no quiet carriages on these trains.


Hunter Line stations
Name Railway line Serving suburbs/towns Notes
Newcastle Interchange Newcastle Wickham, Newcastle Interchange with Central Coast & Newcastle Line
Hamilton Hamilton, Islington, Tighes Hill Interchange with Central Coast & Newcastle Line
Waratah Main Northern Waratah, Georgetown, Mayfield, Mayfield East
Warabrook (University) Warabrook, Callaghan
Sandgate Sandgate
Hexham Hexham
Tarro Tarro
Beresfield Beresfield, Woodberry
Thornton Thornton
Metford Metford
Victoria Street East Maitland
East Maitland East Maitland, Pitnacree, Tenambit
High Street South Maitland, Maitland
Maitland Maitland
At Maitland, the line branches. The northern branch is towards Dungog, and the northwestern branch is towards Scone.
To Dungog
Telarah North Coast Telarah, Rutherford Terminus of most services
Mindaribba Mindaribba
Paterson Paterson
Martins Creek Martins Creek
Hilldale Hilldale
Wallarobba Wallarobba
Wirragulla Wirragulla
Dungog Dungog
To Scone
Lochinvar Main Northern Lochinvar
Greta Greta, North Rothbury
Branxton Branxton, East Branxton
Singleton Singleton
Muswellbrook Muswellbrook
Aberdeen Aberdeen
Scone Scone


The following table shows the patronage of each line of the NSW TrainLink Intercity network for the year ending 30 June 2018, based on Opal tap on and tap off data.[5]

2017-18 NSW TrainLink Intercity patronage by line
10 168 000
19 441 000
926 000
9 851 000
1 059 000


  1. ^ "The Great Northern Railway Newcastle to Maitland 150 Years On", Walters, Chris Australian Railway History March 2007 pp83-113
  2. ^ "Hunter line timetable". Transport for NSW.
  3. ^ Inquiry in Planning Process in Newcastle and the Broader Hunter Region NSW Parliament 23 October 2014
  4. ^ Upcoming transport changes in Newcastle Archived 9 January 2015 at the Wayback Machine Transport Info NSW 8 December 2014
  5. ^ "Train Patronage - Monthly Figures". Transport for NSW. Retrieved 14 September 2018.