Central railway station, Sydney

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Central Railway Station
Central railway station Sydney 2017.jpg
General information
TypeRailway station terminus
Architectural styleFederation Free Classical
AddressEddy Avenue, Haymarket, Sydney, New South Wales
Coordinates33°52′57″S 151°12′24″E / 33.88250°S 151.20667°E / -33.88250; 151.20667Coordinates: 33°52′57″S 151°12′24″E / 33.88250°S 151.20667°E / -33.88250; 151.20667
Construction started1901
Completed1906 (1906)
Opened5 August 1906 (1906-08-05)
Inaugurated4 August 1906 (1906-08-04)
RenovatedJanuary 1979, 1915 (1915-1921-1979)
ClientNew South Wales Government Railways
OwnerGovernment of New South Wales
Tip85.6 metres (281 ft) AHD
Technical details
Design and construction
ArchitectWalter Liberty Vernon (1901-06)
Architecture firmNew South Wales Government Architect
DeveloperGovernment of New South Wales
EngineerHenry Deane (Engineer in Chief of the New South Wales Government Railways)
Services engineerDr John Bradfield (rail engineering)
Other designersFairfax & Roberts (clock tower)
Main contractorNSW Department of Public Works
Official nameCentral Railway Station, Eddy Av, Haymarket, NSW, Australia
Designated21 March 1978
Reference no.2196
Official nameCentral Railway Station
Criteriaa., b., c., d., e., f., g.
Part ofCentral Railway Station and Sydney Terminal Group
Reference no.SRA s.170 Register

The Central railway station is a railway station located at the southern end of the central business district in Sydney, New South Wales, Australia. Often abbreviated as Central or Central station, the station is the largest and busiest railway station in New South Wales. It services almost all of the lines on the Sydney Trains network, and is the major terminus for NSW TrainLink services. Actual patronage was 11.35 million passenger movements in 2013.

Central station occupies a large city block separating Haymarket, Surry Hills, and the central business district, bounded by Railway Square and Pitt Street in the west, Eddy Avenue in the north, Elizabeth Street in the east and the Devonshire Street Tunnel in the south.


There have been three terminal stations in Sydney. The original Sydney station was opened on 26 September 1855 in an area known as Cleveland Fields. This station (one wooden platform in a corrugated iron shed), called Sydney Terminal, had Devonshire Street as its northern boundary.[3] It was frequently but unofficially called Redfern station,[5] while at that time the present Redfern station was officially called Eveleigh.[6] It should be noted that the first and second Sydney Terminals were never actually located in Redfern, being to the north of Cleveland Street which is Redfern's northern boundary.

Central station was built on land previously occupied by the Devonshire Street Cemetery.
Laying the foundation stone for Central Station in 1903

When this station became inadequate for the traffic it carried, a new station was built in 1874 on the same site and also called Sydney Terminal. This was a brick building with two platforms. It grew to 14 platforms before it was replaced by the present-day station to the north of Devonshire Street. The new station was built on a site previously occupied by the Devonshire Street Cemetery,[7] a convent, a female refuge, a police barracks, a parsonage, and a Benevolent Society. The remains exhumed from the cemetery were re-interred at several other Sydney cemeteries including Rookwood and Waverley cemeteries. Bodies were moved to Botany by steam tram motors and flat cars.[3]

The present station was officially opened on 4 August 1906 and opening for passengers on 5 August 1906.[8] The new station included the previous Mortuary railway station used to transport funeral parties to Rookwood Cemetery.[2] The last train departed platform 5 of the 1874 station at midnight. During the remainder of that night, the passenger concourse was demolished and the line extended through the old station into the new station. The Western Mail arrived at 05:50 on 5 August 1906 at the new station.[9] Devonshire Street, which separated the two stations, became a pedestrian underpass to allow people to cross the railway line and is now known by many as the Devonshire Street Tunnel.[3]

A milk bar inside Central station, circa 1947

An 85.6-metre-tall (281 ft)[3] clock tower in the Free Classical style was added at the north-western corner of the station, opening on 3 March 1921. The clock was designed by Richard Lamb and Alfred Fairfax, the co-founders of Fairfax & Roberts. Central station was designed by the Government Architect, Walter Liberty Vernon. As it was being built, it was reported that "Everything in connection with the new station appears to have been designed on a grand scale, from the great elevated approaches down to the system of handling luggage underground."[10] It is listed on the NSW State Heritage Register[1][2] and the now defunct Register of the National Estate.[11]

A riot, dubbed the Battle of Central Station, took place in 1916. Soldiers rebelling against camp conditions had raided hotels in Liverpool and travelled to the city by commandeered trains. Upon arrival at Central station, the rioters set about destroying the station facilities, and fire was exchanged between rampaging rioters and military police. One rioter was shot dead and several were injured. The only remaining evidence of the gun battle is a small bullet-hole in the marble by the entrance to platform 1.[12] This incident had a direct influence on the introduction of 6 o'clock closing of hotels in 1916, which lasted in New South Wales until 1955.[3]

Station configuration[edit]

Elevation20 metres (67 ft)
Owned byRailCorp
Operated bySydney Trains, NSW TrainLink
  • 15 terminating
  • 10 through
  • 2 unused
ConnectionsBus & light rail
Structure typeGround & underground
Disabled accessYes
Other information
WebsiteTransport for NSW
Passengers (2013)11.35 million
93,400 (daily)[13] (Sydney Trains, NSW TrainLink)

The station opened on 5 August 1906 with 11 platforms, but was soon expanded to 15, and by 1913 had 19.[14] This section is dominated by a large vaulted roof over the concourse and elaborate masonry, primarily Sydney sandstone.

As part of the construction of the electrified city railway in the 1920s, a new Central station was built. The existing station was cut back to 15 platforms with new platforms 16 to 23 built on the station's eastern side and a six-track bridge paralleling Elizabeth Street to Goulburn Street built to the north.

Railway employees then referred to the main building and platforms 10 to 15 as Sydney Terminal Station and platforms 16 to 23, and the lower level concourse serving them, as Central Electric Station and the two stations were managed and staffed as separate entities.

South of these new platforms, a series of flying junctions were built. This involved the four southbound tracks passing beneath the northbound tracks with a series of diamond crossings allowing trains to cross lines without impeding trains traveling in the opposite direction.[14]

As part of the project, platforms 10 to 15 were electrified, with platforms 1 to 9 following in 1956.[14][15]

To the west of Platform 1 there was a siding leading to two dock platforms for use of mail trains, now cut back to serve a motorail loading ramp for the Indian Pacific. The space were where the mail sidings is now a Youth Hostels Association hostel named the Sydney Railway Square YHA. The hostel rooms are modelled on old train carriages.[16]

Carriage sheds to the south of Platform 15 were demolished in the 1986 as were the sheds to the west of Platform 1 in 1999.[17][18]

In February 1926, Platform 18 and 19 of the steam station were wired for electric trains with a demonstration run from Sydney to Hurstville. This wiring was transferred to Platforms 21 and 23 and Platforms 14 and 15 were wired for Bankstown electric train services commencing October 1926 and later worked into St James. As the Homebush electrification was completed, Platforms 17 and 18 were wired. Electric trains to Hornsby via the main line commenced on 21 January 1929. Trains to Hornsby used Platforms 16 and 18. Steam services to Parramatta and Liverpool were converted to electric in November 1929. Western electric trains began operating through to Wynyard from 28 February 1932.[19]

The eastern ("suburban") part of the station, consists of 10 through platforms, all aligned north-south, two of which are underground. These are used by suburban Sydney Trains services and by a limited number of NSW TrainLink intercity services during peak hours. The eight above-ground platforms were opened in 1926 as part of a large electrification and modernisation program aimed at improving Sydney's suburban railway services. Prince Alfred sidings, south of Platform 23, were used to stable electric trains until closed in August 1995 and later demolished to make way for the Airport line.[20]

The two underground platforms were built as part of the Eastern Suburbs Railway. Construction commenced in 1948 but the line was not finished until 1979. While the plans called for four platforms, two (for the Southern Suburbs line) were intended to be used in the future and were used for archival storage by the railways.

A contract for a major upgrade of the station was awarded in March 2018. The project includes construction of two new underground platforms to serve the Sydney Metro City & Southwest and a new underground concourse called Central Walk. The new platforms will be built beneath platforms 13-14.[21][22]

Platforms and services[edit]

Eastward view of the Grand Concourse in 2017
Platform 20 and 21 at Central Station in 2013

Central serves all Sydney suburban lines except for the Cumberland and Carlingford lines. All long-distance NSW TrainLink XPT and Xplorer services and the Great Southern Rail Indian Pacific terminate at Central. These generally use Platforms 1 to 3, although when the Indian Pacific is in the station occupying both Platforms 2 and 3, some NSW TrainLink regional services use Platforms 4 to 12.

Construction works for the Sydney Metro City & Southwest have meant that platforms 13, 14 and 15 have been fenced off and no longer usable by trains.[23]

The platforms are numbered from 1 to 25, with 1 being the westernmost platform and 25 being one of the easternmost. The services which generally use each platform are listed below:

Platform Line Stopping pattern Notes
1 to 3 services to Grafton, Casino & Brisbane Platforms 1 to 15 are terminal platforms[24]
services to Armidale & Moree[25]
services to Canberra, Griffith & Melbourne[26]
services to Dubbo & Broken Hill[27]
Indian Pacific services to Perth via Broken Hill & Adelaide[28]
4 to 12 services to Gosford, Wyong & Newcastle via Strathfield [29]
services to Springwood, Katoomba, Mount Victoria, Lithgow & Bathurst[30]
services to Kiama[31]
evening peak services to Moss Vale & Goulburn[32]
special event services to Olympic Park[33]
Morning and Evening Peak Hour services to Epping & Hornsby via Strathfield
13 to 15 closed closed for construction of Sydney Metro underground platforms
16 services to North Sydney, Lindfield, Gordon, Hornsby & Berowra [34]
evening peak services to Gosford, Wyong & Newcastle via Gordon[29]
17 services to the City Circle via Town Hall [35]
services to the City Circle via Town Hall[36]
18 services to Hornsby, Epping, Richmond & Emu Plains via Strathfield
19 services to Parramatta & Leppington [37]
20 services to the City Circle via Museum [36]
21 services to the City Circle via Museum [37]
22 evening peak services to Macarthur via Sydenham & Revesby [35]
services to Lidcombe & Liverpool via Bankstown[36]
23 services to Revesby, & Macarthur via the Airport [35]
24 services to Bondi Junction [38]
services to Martin Place & Bondi Junction[31]
25 services to Cronulla & Waterfall via Hurstville [38]
services to Wollongong, Port Kembla, Dapto & Kiama[31]
26 & 27 Never completed[39] used only for archival document storage[40]
Never completed[39] used only for archival document storage[40]
Preceding station   Sydney Trains   Following station
towards Hornsby or Emu Plains or Richmond
North Shore, Northern & Western Line
towards Berowra
Inner West & Leppington Line
towards City Circle
towards Lidcombe or Liverpool
Bankstown Line
inbound services
towards City Circle
Bankstown Line
outbound services
One-way operation
towards Waterfall or Cronulla
Eastern Suburbs & Illawarra Line
towards Olympic Park
Olympic Park Line
(occasional services only)
towards Macarthur
Airport & South Line
via Sydenham
(peak hour only)
towards City Circle
towards Macarthur
Airport & South Line
via Sydney Airport
Preceding station   NSW TrainLink   Following station
TerminusBlue Mountains Line
towards Bathurst
Central Coast & Newcastle Line
Central Coast & Newcastle Line
(peak hour services)
towards Wyong
South Coast Line
TerminusSouthern Highlands Line
(peak hour services)
towards Goulburn
towards Grafton, Casino or Brisbane
NSW TrainLink North CoastTerminus
towards Moree or Armidale
NSW TrainLink North Western
towards Broken Hill or Dubbo
NSW TrainLink Western
NSW TrainLink Southern
Preceding station   Great Southern Rail   Following station
towards East Perth
Indian PacificTerminus
  Future services  
Preceding station   Sydney Metro   Following station
towards Chatswood
City and Southwest
towards Bankstown

Indicator board[edit]

1906 Central station Indicator Board on display at the Powerhouse Museum

When opened, Central station had an indicator board with 22 vertical panels. It was replaced in June 1982 by computer screens with the original indicator board conserved by the Powerhouse Museum.[41] In June 2015, a new elevated 11-metre-long (36 ft) indicator board was installed on the main concourse on the same standstone base as the original board.[42]

Transport links[edit]

Light rail[edit]

The Inner West Light Rail at Central

Central is the eastern terminus of the Dulwich Hill Line that operates to Chinatown, Darling Harbour, Pyrmont and the inner western suburbs. The light rail stop is in an outside concourse area, near the main waiting area and departure hall. This area was originally designed for trams, and as such was used by trams until 1958, when the service was withdrawn. It was known as Railway Colonnade. Light rail services operate in a clockwise direction, whereas the trams operated in an anti-clockwise direction.

Construction of the CBD and South East Light Rail line from Circular Quay to Kingsford and Randwick via Central commenced in 2015.[43] Stops will be located at Rawson Place and on Chalmers Street.

Bus services[edit]

Many bus services depart from the adjacent Eddy Avenue or from the nearby Elizabeth Street or Railway Square.

Coach services[edit]

Long distance coaches depart from the western forecourt and Pitt Street:

Devonshire Street Tunnel[edit]

After Central was built in 1906, the Devonshire Street Tunnel, to the north of the old station, became an underpass. The underpass allows pedestrians to access the eastern "suburban" section from Railway Square and Chalmers Street.[46] The tunnel connects to The Goods Line–a park and pedestrian pathway to Ultimo and Darling Harbour.

Diagrams and maps[edit]

Diagram of track layout at the suburban section of the station, there are seven grade separations in the Flying junctions, plus one unused one

Map of the station
Map of the Central station precinct

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b "Central Railway Station". New South Wales State Heritage Register. Office of Environment and Heritage. Retrieved 3 January 2017.
  2. ^ a b c "Central Railway Station and Sydney Terminal Group". New South Wales State Heritage Register. Office of Environment and Heritage. Retrieved 3 January 2017.
  3. ^ a b c d e f "Central Station - in-depth history". Sydney Trains. Government of New South Wales. Archived from the original on 10 August 2013. Retrieved 3 January 2017.
  4. ^ "Central Railway Station, Eddy Av, Haymarket, NSW, Australia (Place ID 2196)". Australian Heritage Database. Department of the Environment. 21 March 1978. Retrieved 29 November 2017.
  5. ^ "Central Railway Station, Sydney - Gallery - State Records NSW". State Records NSW - Digital Gallery. Retrieved 2017-04-13.
  6. ^ "Atlas of the Suburbs of Sydney - Redfern 1886-1888". dictionaryofsydney.org. Retrieved 2017-04-13.
  7. ^ "Sydney's Central Station - Now and Then Photos - Sydney". Weekend Notes.
  8. ^ "The New Central Station". Sydney Morning Herald. Trove, National Library of Australia. 6 August 1906. p. 6.
  9. ^ Preston, Ronald George (1980). 125 Years of the Sydney to Parramatta Railway. Burwood: The New South Wales Rail Transport Museum. p. 60. ISBN 0-909862-13-3.
  10. ^ "New Railway Station. An imposing Building". The Sydney Morning Herald (NSW: 1842 - 1954). NSW: Trove, National Library of Australia. 2 August 1906. p. 7. Retrieved 27 March 2014.
  11. ^ Australian Heritage Commission (1981), The Heritage of Australia: the illustrated register of the National Estate, 2, South Melbourne: The Macmillan Company of Australia in association with the Australian Heritage Commission, p. 108, ISBN 978-0-333-33750-9
  12. ^ Baker, Jordan (2 August 2006). "The secret life of us — tunnel vision exposed". Sydney Morning Herald.
  13. ^ Bureau of Transport Statistics. "Train Statistics 2014" (PDF). Transport NSW. Retrieved 15 July 2018.
  14. ^ a b c "Sydney's Electric Trains from 1926 to 1960". Australian Railway Historical Society Bulletin (761): 87, 94, 95 101. March 2001.
  15. ^ Oakes, John (2002). Sydney's Central. Redfern: Australian Railway Historical Society. p. 53. ISBN 0 909650 56 X.
  16. ^ "Sydney Railway Square YHA". YHA Australia.
  17. ^ "Suburban Report". Railway Digest: 344. November 1986.
  18. ^ "Newsline". Railway Digest: 12. April 1999.
  19. ^ "Unknown". ARHS Bulletin. 56: 3. 1942.
  20. ^ "CityRail's New Timetable". Railway Digest: 13. August 1995.
  21. ^ "$955 Million Central Walk, Sydney Metro Contract Awarded - securing more NSW jobs". Transport for NSW. 7 March 2018. Retrieved 7 March 2018.
  22. ^ Central Station Sydney Metro. Additionally, platform 15 has had tracks removed and is currently fenced off, being officially booked out of use.
  23. ^ "Central Train Station Sydney | Information & Map | Sydney Metro". www.sydneymetro.info. Retrieved 2018-07-18.
  24. ^ "North Coast timetable" (PDF). NSW Trainlink. 30 September 2018.
  25. ^ "North Coast timetable" (PDF). NSW Trainlink. 30 September 2018.
  26. ^ "Southern timetable" (PDF). NSW Trainlink. 30 September 2018.
  27. ^ "Western timetable" (PDF). NSW Trainlink. 30 September 2018.
  28. ^ "Indian Pacific timetable". Great Southern Rail. 1 April 2018.
  29. ^ a b "Central Coast & Newcastle line timetable". Transport for NSW.
  30. ^ "Blue Mountains line timetable". Transport for NSW.
  31. ^ a b c "South Coast line timetable". Transport for NSW.
  32. ^ "Southern Highlands line timetable". Transport for NSW.
  33. ^ "T7: Olympic Park line timetable". Transport for NSW.
  34. ^ "T1: North Shore line timetable". Transport for NSW.
  35. ^ a b c "T8: Airport & South line timetable". Transport for NSW.
  36. ^ a b c "T3: Bankstown line timetable". Transport for NSW.
  37. ^ a b "T2: Inner West & Leppington line timetable". Transport for NSW.
  38. ^ a b "T4: Eastern Suburbs & Illawarra line timetable". Transport for NSW.
  39. ^ a b In search of platforms 26 and 27: Central station’s mysterious underground world Daily Telegraph 30 October 2014
  40. ^ a b David Johnson's Sydney Underground Photos
  41. ^ Central Station indicator board Powerhouse Museum
  42. ^ "Opal takes centre stage at Central". Transport for NSW. 29 June 2015.
  43. ^ CBD & South East Light Rail Project Archived 21 May 2014 at the Wayback Machine. Transport for New South Wales April 2013
  44. ^ Timetables Firefly retrieved 20 May 2018.
  45. ^ Australian timetables Premier Transport Group
  46. ^ Tunnelling Through the Past Sydney Architecture

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]