South Kensington–West Footscray railway line

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South Kensington–West Footscray line
TypeFreight and regional passenger
SystemVictorian rail network
TerminiSouth Kensington
West Footscray
ServicesAlbury V/Line rail service
Sydney-Melbourne rail corridor
Opened21 October 1928 (1928-10-21)
Operator(s)V/Line (infrastructure manager)
Number of tracks2
Track gauge1,435 mm (4 ft 8 12 in) standard gauge
1,600 mm (5 ft 3 in) Victorian broad gauge
SignallingVictorian three-position

The South Kensington–West Footscray line is a railway line in the inner western suburbs of Melbourne, Australia. Linking South Kensington station on the Werribee line and associated freight terminals to Tottenham Yard and other freight lines, it is a primarily freight only line with no overhead wires, passenger stations or platforms. The most visible part of the line is the tunnel under Footscray station, which is often incorrectly called disused.[1]


The line was opened on 21 October 1928 to allow freight trains to avoid suburban passenger train congestion at Footscray station, which was then only connected to Melbourne by a pair of tracks.[2] Initially consisting of two broad gauge tracks, in 1962 the tracks were converted to dual gauge as part of the Melbourne to Sydney gauge standardisation project. Today the line is controlled by the Australian Rail Track Corporation as part of the North East standard gauge line.[3] In 2008–2009, the conventionally signalled double track between Sims Street Junction and West Footscray was converted to bi-directional operation, with an additional standard gauge track constructed between West Footscray and Tottenham, at a cost of $45 million.[4]

In recent years due to growing congestion on the above ground lines though Footscray, various proposals have been made for increased numbers of passenger services to use the line.[5] In 2010 it was announced that the Regional Rail Link project would not use the freight lines, instead using new tracks to be built through Footscray.[6]


Built as a double track railway, the line starts in the Spion Kop area of Melbourne Yard, near Moonee Ponds Creek and the CityLink flyover. It then runs west to South Kensington station, where there is a junction with the main passenger lines, before it runs south of the passenger platforms. Curving south-west, lines from North Dynon merge in, before crossing Dynon Road on an overpass. Sims Street Junction is reached, where the standard gauge line from Southern Cross station joins the line, as well as additional lines from the Port of Melbourne and South Dynon.

The line now curves to the west and crosses a major steel truss bridge over the Maribyrnong River, before entering the Bunbury Street Tunnel, built by cut and cover methods under the roadway of the same name. The tunnel emerges into a deep cutting that runs under Footscray Station, reaching ground level by Middle Footscray station. Running north of the Sunbury suburban line the lines continue parallel to West Footscray station where the freight line slews around the station platform. Here the standard gauge continues north around Tottenham Yard before becoming the North East and Western standard gauge lines, while the broad gauge continues through the yard, before reaching the Newport–Sunshine line and Sunshine station.

Freight trains from the north, north-east, west and south-west use the line to access the rail freight terminals in the Dynon area, as well as the Port of Melbourne. The only passenger services using the line operate on the standard gauge, being the daily NSW TrainLink XPT, the Great Southern Rail operated The Overland and standard gauge Albury V/Line rail service. V/Line uses the tracks south of South Kensington for the reversal of trains operating on the Traralgon and Bairnsdale lines to avoid blocking other trains at Southern Cross station. Other than standard gauge services, V/Line do not operate passenger services along the line, except in times of disruptions to normal routes.

Line guide[edit]

The line running beneath the Footscray station platforms, south-western end

Red is broad gauge, blue is dual or standard gauge.

South Kensington–West Footscray line
Melbourne Yard
South Kensington
Werribee line
North Dynon
Sims Street Junction
Bunbury Street Tunnel
West Footscray Junction


  1. ^ Reid Sexton (2 November 2008). "Rail tunnel 'vital' to state economy". The Age. Retrieved 5 November 2008.
  2. ^ "VR History". Retrieved 30 March 2008.
  3. ^ "ARTC Network in Victoria" (PDF). ARTC – Access Seeker Network Configuration and Description. Retrieved 28 March 2008.
  4. ^ "ARTC Annual Report 2009" (PDF). p. Page 6. Retrieved 27 September 2010.
  5. ^ Clay Lucas and Jason Dowling (9 May 2008). "Melbourne's next stop: underground?". The Age. Retrieved 5 November 2008.
  6. ^ Clay Lucas (15 June 2010). "$4.3b link won't cut travel times". The Age. Retrieved 27 September 2010.