South Coast Line

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South Coast Line
Service typeIntercity rail
LocaleIllawarra region, New South Wales
First service21 June 1887 (1887-06-21)
Current operator(s)NSW TrainLink
StartCentral, Bondi Junction
Distance travelled166 km (103 mi)
Line(s) usedEastern Suburbs
Main Suburban (between Central and Redfern)
South Coast
Rolling stockH sets (all electric services)
Endeavour railcars (between Kiama and Bomaderry)
T sets (additional electric services between Waterfall/Thrroul and Port Kembla)
Track gauge1,435 mm (4 ft 8+12 in) standard gauge
Track owner(s)Transport Asset Holding Entity
Timetable number(s)SCO

The South Coast Line is an intercity rail service operated by NSW TrainLink that services the Illawarra region of New South Wales, Australia. The service runs from Central, and runs the entire length of the eponymous South Coast railway line to Bomaderry. The service also runs along the Eastern Suburbs railway line at peak hours and the Port Kembla railway line to Port Kembla. It is operated with NSW TrainLink H sets and Sydney Trains T sets, with Endeavour railcars operating the service on the non-electrified line between Kiama and Bomaderry.

Passenger trains first operated on the South Coast railway line in 1887, and is one of five routes on the NSW TrainLink Intercity network. The South Coast Line routes span 40 stations, across 159 km of railway. An additional 5 stations and 7 km of railway are travelled by South Coast Line trains at peak hour on the Eastern Suburbs railway line.



The first passenger train services on the Illawarra commenced on 21 June 1887, after the line was completed from Clifton to Wollongong, and later, North Kiama on 9 November 1887. The line was later connected to Waterfall via Helensburgh, Otford, Stanwell Park and Coalcliff the following year between July and October 1888, after delays on construction between Waterfall and Clifton. The line was further extended to Bomaderry through Kiama, opening on 2 June 1893.[1][2]

An American Suburban carriage passenger train approaches Austinmer station. (photograph dated 1914)
View of Shellharbour Junction station, which opened in late 2014

Throughout its long history, the South Coast Line's roster of stations have changed significantly. Many stations in the Upper Illawarra had closed and new ones opened towards the first half of the 20th century. Stations such as the ones serving Clifton were closed, along with a majority of the original railway between Waterfall and Coalcliff between 1915 and 1920, replaced with a new alignment that made use of a flatter gradient and made the infamous Otford Tunnel defunct. New stations along the line that opened throughout this period included Coledale in 1902, North Wollongong in 1915, Coniston in 1916, Wombarra in 1917, and Towradgi in 1948. Further removals of stations from the line in the latter half of the 20th century included the station serving Yallah in 1974, the majority of the stations on the line between Kiama and Bomaderry, and Lilyvale in 1983.[1] Dunmore was also closed in November 2014, replaced by Shellharbour Junction, after rising commercial and residential development in Flinders and Shell Cove and their distance from Dunmore station, prompted the Government of New South Wales to build a replacement station closer to the area of urban growth.[3]

While the railway network at Port Kembla was built in 1916, stations and passenger trains servicing the surrounding suburbs did not operate until 5 January 1920, when the Port Kembla railway station was opened. A station at Cringila was added to the Port Kembla commuter branch in 1926, along with one at Port Kembla North, a decade later, in 1936. A railway station for workers at Port Kembla, named Lysaghts, after the nearby Lysaght steel plant, was also opened in 1938.[1]

Some platforms on the line (e.g. Scarborough) are only 4 or 6 cars long, so not all doors may open on 8-car trains.

Services and rolling stock[edit]

Services were originally operated with locomotive-hauled trains and, later, Diesel railcars, prior to the electrification of the South Coast railway line. The line was electrified to Helensburgh in 1984, with the suburban Eastern Suburbs & Illawarra Line service occasionally extending its service past the terminus at Waterfall to Helensburgh during peak hours, a practice that the current Sydney Trains Eastern Suburbs & Illawarra Line service still follows today. Electrification extended to Wollongong the following year. Despite the newly installed electrification, diesel sets and locomotive-hauled trains still operated along the line from Kiama all the way past Wollongong to Sydney, including the South Coast Daylight Express, until 1991.[4] Electrification of the South Coast railway line was further extended to Dapto in 1993 and, finally, to Kiama in 2001. The railway between Kiama and Bomaderry is the only part of the line that remains non-electrified, operated by New South Wales Endeavour railcars since their introduction in 1994.

The electrified rolling stock of the South Coast Line began with V set intercity trains. There were later accompanied by Tangaras when they were introduced into the CityRail network in 1988. Originally, the Tangaras that ran on the South Coast Line were different variations of T sets known as G sets. G sets differed from T sets in that they had reversible seats, toilets, fresh water dispensers and luggage racks. In late 2005, it was discovered that a majority of the V set rolling stock operating on the South Coast Line were suffering from corrosion in their underframes. More G sets were introduced onto the South Coast Line to compensate, and eventually became the standard rolling stock on the South Coast Line after V sets ceased operating on the service. From January 2012, V sets ceased operating South Coast services. In 2009, however, after the introduction of OSCARs onto the intercity CityRail network, All G sets were recalled for conversion into T sets. The OSCAR fleet effectively replaced the G set rolling stock and, since 2010, standard Sydney Trains T sets, owned by NSW TrainLink, have been operating services to Port Kembla.

In 2017, it was revealed that the Liberal state government had reviewed a 3.6 billion dollar tunnel between Thirroul and Waterfall that could reduce travel time between Sydney and Wollongong by 22 minutes, but that rail improvements were being sidetracked in favour of improving and extending the nearby Princes Motorway.[5]


On 20 December 1994, an accident involving two empty S sets occurred during a shunting procedure at Waterfall. One of the trains jack-knifed onto the platform, demolishing the concrete pedestrian bridge. No injuries or casualties, however, were reported.[6] On the morning of 31 January 2003, an intercity Tangara en route to Port Kembla derailed at high speed between Waterfall and Helensburgh, resulting in the deaths of seven people and injury of forty.[7] The accident was the third major accident resulting in fatalities on the CityRail network in 13 years, after the Cowan rail accident in 1990 and Glenbrook rail accident in 1999.

On 24 November 2011, a Pacific National coal train derailed near Clifton, causing the suspension of South Coast Line services between Waterfall and Thirroul. Services were resumed four days later, after the derailed train was removed from the tracks.[8] The train had derailed immediately after coming out of the Clifton tunnel, with the front eight clearing the tunnel and derailing, and the rear twelve carriages remaining inside the tunnel. The Office of Transport Safety Investigations found that the cause of the derailment was a broken axle.[9]


The rolling stock of the South Coast Line

Peak hour and weekend services commence from Bondi Junction or Martin Place on the Eastern Suburbs railway line, and stop at Central at Platform 25. At other times, services depart from Central (Sydney Terminal). They generally use platform 15, but this can change at short notice, as with all services from Sydney Terminal.

Some peak hour and weekend services are listed as pickup only at intermediate suburban stations (eg. Redfern Hurstville, Sutherland). This restriction is to ensure the train does not fill up with suburban passengers, who have plenty of other suburban services to take. Pickup only stations are not displayed on platform screens, but will be displayed on in-train screens.

The most common Central to Kiama services are operated by 4/8 car H sets (OSCARs). All-stations services operate between Waterfall, Thirroul and Port Kembla with 4-car T sets (Tangaras). Shuttle train services between Kiama and Bomaderry are operated by 2-car diesel Endeavour railcars, due to the line not being electrified past Kiama.[10]

From 2020, all services are to be taken over by 4 and 6 car D Sets. This will free up H sets for transferral to suburban railway work. Two-car Endeavour sets will continue to operate the Kiama to Bomaderry section. These are set to be replaced by the new bi-modal regional fleet in 2023.

Stopping patterns[edit]

Weekday Peak Hours

There are no set stopping patterns for peak hours, however every 20 minutes a service operates between Bondi Junction all stations to Central (Platforms 24/25), Redfern (Platform 11/12), Wolli Creek, Hurstville and the South Coast. Some trains start/end at Wollongong and Thirroul. There are also some local services starting at Waterfall or Thirroul.

Weekday Off-Peak

  • Central (i), Redfern, Wolli Creek, Hurstville, Sutherland, Helensburgh, Thirroul, North Wollongong, Wollongong then all stations (except Kembla Grange) to Kiama (operates every 60 minutes)
  • Kiama then all stations to Bomaderry/Nowra (operates every 120 minutes – connects with every second Central-Kiama train)
  • Waterfall then all stations to Port Kembla via Thirroul and Wollongong (operates every 60 minutes)


  • Bondi Junction, all to Redfern, Wolli Creek, Hurstville, Sutherland, Waterfall then all stations to Thirroul, then North Wollongong, Wollongong and then all stations to Kiama (operates every 120 minutes)
  • Bondi Junction, all to Redfern, Wolli Creek, Hurstville, Sutherland, Waterfall, Thirroul, North Wollongong, Wollongong and then all stations to Kiama, connecting with the Bomaderry train (operates every 120 minutes)
  • Kiama then all stations to Bomaderry/Nowra (operates every 120 minutes – connects with express Bondi Junction-Kiama train)
  • Thirroul, then all to Port Kembla (irregular frequency, connects with each train from Bondi Junction)

Rarer patterns

Some late night or early morning services:

  • run between Wollongong and Port Kembla/Kiama only
  • make all stops between Sutherland and Waterfall (since T4 suburban services are not operating at this time)
  • start at Waterfall, connecting off a T4 suburban train, but then follow the Kiama stopping pattern
  • replaced by a bus service between Kiama and Bomaderry/Nowra

Some afternoon services:

  • start at Helensburgh, but run as a T4 service, using the same stopping patterns as T4 Waterfall services
  • divide at Wollongong, with only the front 4 cars continuing past Wollongong


New South Wales metropolitan rail area, with the South Coast Line highlighted in blue
Name Code
Distance from
Travel Time
[ab 1]
Railway Suburbs serviced Connecting Services
Bondi Junction – Waterfall (Suburban section)
Bondi Junction BJN 6.7 km dep. Eastern Suburbs Bondi Junction, Woollahra
Edgecliff ECL 4.8 km 3 min Edgecliff, Darling Point
Kings Cross KSX 3.4 km 3 min Kings Cross, Rushcutters Bay
Martin Place MPC 2.1 km 2 min Sydney
Town Hall THL 1.1 km 3 min Sydney
Central SBO 0.0 km 3 min Sydney, Strawberry Hills,
Ultimo, Surry Hills

  • Blue Mountains
    Central Coast & Newcastle

    North Coast
    North Western
Redfern RDF 1.3 km 2 min Redfern, Waterloo, Darlington

  • Blue Mountains
    Central Coast & Newcastle
Wolli Creek WOC 7.3 km 8 min South Coast Wolli Creek, Arncliffe
Hurstville HVL 14.8 km 15 min Hurstville, Hurstville South
Sutherland SLD 24.6 km 10 min Sutherland
Waterfall WFL 38.7 km 12 min Waterfall
Waterfall – Coniston
Helensburgh HSB 46.3 km 9 min South Coast Helensburgh, Lilyvale
Otford OTF 54.6 km 6 min Otford, Stanwell Tops
Stanwell Park SWP 56.0 km 4 min Stanwell Park
Coalcliff CCF 59.3 km 6 min Coalcliff
Scarborough SWP 62.5 km 5 min Scarborough, Clifton
Wombarra WMJ 64.4 km 3 min Wombarra
Coledale COL 66.2 km 3 min Coledale
Austinmer AUR 68.6 km 3 min Austinmer
Thirroul TRL 70.2 km 2 min Thirroul
Bulli BUI 72.2 km 2 min Bulli
Woonona WOJ 74.0 km 2 min Woonona
Bellambi BLM 75.6 km 2 min Bellambi, Russell Vale
Corrimal CIM 77.0 km 1 min Corrimal, East Corrimal
Towradgi TOW 78.0 km 1 min Towradgi, Tarrawanna
Fairy Meadow FMW 79.4 km 2 min Fairy Meadow
North Wollongong NHW 81.3 km 3 min North Wollongong, Gwynneville,
Mount Ousley
Wollongong WOL 82.9 km 4 min Wollongong TfNSW C.svg Wollongong – Bundanoon Coach
Coniston CNI 84.1 km 2 min Coniston
Coniston – Port Kembla (Port Kembla branch)
Lysaghts LYS 86.3 km 3 min Port Kembla
Cringila CRG 87.7 km 2 min Cringila
Port Kembla North PBN 88.8 km 2 min Warrawong
Port Kembla PKM 90.2 km 3 min Port Kembla
Coniston – Kiama
Unanderra UDR 88.3 km 5 min South Coast Unanderra
Kembla Grange KGG 91.6 km 3 min Kembla Grange
Dapto DAP 95.1 km 5 min Dapto, Horsley TfNSW C.svg Wollongong – Bundanoon Coach
Albion Park ALP 103.3 km ~9 min Albion Park Rail TfNSW C.svg Wollongong – Bundanoon Coach
Oak Flats OAF 105.5 km 3 min Oak Flats, Blackbutt, Shellharbour
Shellharbour Junction 108.9 km 4 min Croom, Flinders, Shell Cove
Minnamurra MUR 113.4 km 5 min Minnamurra
Bombo BMB 117.6 km 5 min Kiama Downs
Kiama KAM 119.2 km 3 min Kiama
Kiama – Bomaderry (Non-electric service)
Gerringong GOG 128.6 km 9 min South Coast Gerringong
Berry BRY 140.8 km 9 min Berry
Bomaderry BOM 153.4 km 9 min Bomaderry, Nowra
  1. ^ The time taken for a train to reach the station from the previous stop. Based on the current South Coast Line timetable, effective 20 October 2013.[10]


The following table shows the patronage of each line of the NSW TrainLink Intercity network for the year ending 30 June 2020, based on Opal tap on and tap off data.[12]

2020-21 NSW TrainLink Intercity patronage by line
2 887 000
5 450 000
385 000
2 878 000
311 000


  1. ^ a b c Bozier, Rolfe. "South Coast Line". Retrieved 18 May 2015.
  2. ^ Oakes, John (2009) [2003]. Sydney's Forgotten Illawarra Railways (2nd rev. ed.). Sydney: Australian Railway Historical Society, NSW Division. pp. 11, 12, 23, 24, 26, 54–56, 60, 73, 79–85. ISBN 978-0-9805106-6-9.
  3. ^ Humphries, Glen (6 November 2014). "New Shellharbour Junction set to open". Illawarra Mercury. Fairfax Regional Media. Retrieved 18 May 2015.
  4. ^ Cooke, David (1984). Railmotors and XPTs. Sydney: Australian Railway Historical Society, NSW Division. ISBN 0 909650 23 3.
  5. ^ Robertson, James; O'Sullivan, Matt (27 June 2017). "Minister's answer undercut by cabinet documents on Sydney-Wollongong rail tunnel". The Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 27 June 2017.
  6. ^ "Waterfall Collision Puts Focus on Procedures". Railway Digest: 6. February 1995.
  7. ^ "Special Commission of Inquiry into the Waterfall Rail Accident; Final Report Volume 1; January 2005; The Honourable Peter Aloysius McInerney QC" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 26 June 2008. Retrieved 26 December 2012.
  8. ^ "Train services return after derailment". ABC News Australia. Australian Broadcasting Corporation. 28 November 2011. Retrieved 18 May 2015.
  9. ^ "Rail Safety Investigation Report – Derailment of Pacific National Service MC92" (PDF). New South Wales Office of Transport Safety Investigations. Retrieved 18 May 2015.
  10. ^ a b "South Coast line timetable". Transport for NSW.
  11. ^ Bozier, Rolfe. "New South Wales Railways: NSW Station Codes". Archived from the original on 13 June 2002. Retrieved 17 May 2015.
  12. ^ "Train Patronage - Monthly Figures". Transport for NSW. Retrieved 20 September 2021.

External links[edit]