Sydney underground railways

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The city of Sydney, Australia has several sections of underground railway. These sections of railway are extensions of suburban main line services and are not a completely segregated true metro system. The underground sections, especially the City Circle, typically have frequent services. The railways are run by Sydney Trains, an agency of the government of New South Wales. An upcoming underground rapid transit metro will also form what will be the largest part of Sydney's underground railways and the first subway system in an Australian city.[1]

Underground lines[edit]

Sydney has four underground lines.

  • The oldest is the main city loop, the City Circle, which runs between Central, Town Hall, Wynyard, Circular Quay, St James and Museum stations. Central and Circular Quay are above-ground stations (Circular Quay is elevated, directly underneath the Cahill Expressway), while the remainder are below ground. The City Circle was built in stages. The first stations to open were St. James and Museum, in 1926. Next was the "western limb" through Town Hall and Wynyard, which opened in 1932, in conjunction with the opening of the Sydney Harbour Bridge. This section contains four tunnels. Two connect to the Harbour Bridge, while the other two terminated at Wynyard. In 1956 the dead ends at St. James and Wynyard were joined and Circular Quay was opened.
  • The second, the Eastern Suburbs line, opened in 1979. It runs between Redfern, Central, Town Hall, Martin Place, Kings Cross, Edgecliff, Woollahra (Unused Platforms) and Bondi Junction stations. All these are underground, but there are three above-ground sections, two on viaduct and one in cutting. Most of the platforms at Redfern and Central stations are above ground, including the platforms for the City Circle, but the Eastern Suburbs line is underground. Originally the line was to extend to Kingsford but was finished at Bondi Junction due to a lack on money.[citation needed] There were later plans to extend the Eastern Suburbs line from Bondi Junction to Bondi Beach, but the plans have since fallen through.
Ticket hall of Macquarie Park station

Currently commencing construction is:

  • A metro line between Epping and Rouse Hill stopping at Cherrybrook, Castle Hill, Showground, Norwest, Bella Vista, Rouse Hill and possibly Cudgegong Rd. It will consist of approximately 15km of tunnel with a similar amount of track carried by Viaducts and be known as the North West Metro Tenders have been awarded for the Tunnelling and Viaducts. It comprises the Sydney Metro project, which also involves a proposed line under Sydney Harbour to Barangaroo.

There are also plans for:

  • a metro line between the CBD and Rozelle–the Metro plan was invested heavily in though it was politically unstable from the outset with strong opposition, all tenders related to the Metro Network were cancelled and is very unlikely to go ahead.

There were previously plans for other lines, such as:

Disused tunnels[edit]

Sydney has several disused tunnels. The best known of these are those leading out of St James station.[2] There are also two instances of disused tunnels and platforms on the Eastern Suburbs line at Redfern and Central (see below). These stations have disused platforms adjacent (but walled off from) the platforms currently in use. There are also stub tunnels at North Sydney railway station for a never constructed Manly to Mona Vale line.[3][4]

From the top of the northern stair to platform 10 at Redfern Station it is possible to view the unfinished structure for the low-level "up" (toward Central) Southern Suburbs platform. The associated never-used tunnels are quite complex. Immediately to your left is the (surface level) stub tunnel for the "down" Southern Suburbs track. This short tunnel exits on the northern side of Lawson Street road bridge. As a matter of interest, there are at least nine railway tunnels under the suburb of Redfern: some in use, some never used.

The never-used platforms at Central, numbered 26 and 27, lie above the Eastern Suburbs Railway platforms and have never been used for trains.[5] Like St. James station, these stations have stub tunnels, although they are much shorter.

There are three tunnels formerly part of the Metropolitan Goods Lines. One runs underneath Railway Square, between the Central station railway yards and the Powerhouse Museum, the others underneath Pyrmont and Glebe. The first tunnel is now only used to service the Powerhouse Museum. The former railway from the Powerhouse Museum to Dulwich Hill, including Pyrmont and Glebe tunnels, has been converted to form part of the Dulwich Hill light rail line from Central station.

Also of interest is a tunnel connecting the Eveleigh rail yards, on the southern side of the main line, to the northern side of the main line, running beneath Redfern station. This tunnel remains in use for the transfer of empty trains from Central (terminal) station to the service centre.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Funding secured: Sydney Metro to be a reality". Transport for NSW. 4 June 2015. 
  2. ^ The St James Railways Tunnels – Some Historical Notes Harper, Graham Australian Railway Historical Society Bulletin, August 1989 pp171-179
  3. ^ Besser, Linton, "Ghost trains: the rail network that never was", Sydney Morning Herald, 21 July 2007. Retrieved 21 July 2007.
  4. ^ Railpage
  5. ^ Besser, Linton, "On the rails to nowhere", 21 July 2007. Retrieved 21 July 2007.