Central railway station, Sydney

Central railway station, Sydney

Underground, Above Ground, Ground level
Station viewed from Western Forecourt in March 2013
Location Eddy Avenue, Haymarket, Sydney
Elevation 20 metres (67 ft)
Owned by RailCorp
Operated by Sydney Trains
Platforms 25 (15 terminating, 10 through)
Tracks 30
Connections Bus
Light rail
Structure type Ground: 15
Elevated: 8
Underground: 2
Disabled access Yes
Other information
Fare zone MyZone 1
Website Sydney Trains
Opened 5 August 1906
Electrified Yes
Passengers (2013) 11.35 million

Central railway station is located at the southern end of the Sydney central business district and 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. It sits adjacent to Railway Square and is officially located in Haymarket.

Central is the busiest station in New South Wales when taking into account actual weekly patronage, with 11.35 million passenger movements in 2013.


  • History 1
  • Station configuration 2
  • Platforms and services 3
  • Indicator Board 4
  • Trackplan 5
  • Transport links 6
    • Light rail 6.1
    • Bus services 6.2
    • Coach services 6.3
  • Devonshire Street pedestrian tunnel 7
  • References 8
  • Further reading 9
  • External links 10


Central station was built on land previously occupied by the Devonshire Street Cemetery.
Laying the foundation stone for Central Station in 1903
A milk bar inside Central station circa 1947

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 Redfern, had Devonshire Street as its northern boundary.

When this station became inadequate for the traffic it carried, a new station was built in 1874 on the same site and also called Redfern. 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,[1] 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.

The present station was officially opened on 4 August 1906 and opening for passengers on 5 August 1906.[2] The new station included the previous Mortuary railway station used to transport funeral parties to Rookwood Cemetery.[3] 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.[4] 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.

A 75-metre clock tower in the Free Classical style was added at the north-western corner of the station, opening on 3 March 1921. 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."[5] It is listed on the Register of the National Estate.[6]

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.[7] 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.

Station configuration

The station opened on 5 August 1906 with 11 platforms, but was soon expanded to 15, and by 1913 had 19.[8] 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. South of the 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.[8]

As part of the project, platforms 10 to 15 were electrified, with platforms 1 to 9 following in 1956.[8][9]

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 Sydney Railway Square YHA. The hostel rooms are modelled on old train carriages.

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.[10][11]

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.[12]

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.[13]

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 found to be not needed and are used for archival storage by the New South Wales Railways.

Platforms and services

Central serves all Sydney suburban lines except for the Cumberland and Carlingford lines, excluding a single weekday service. 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 6.

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. Platforms 26&27 may be used for Sydney Metro Southwest possibly . If not the future platforms could be numbered 28&29.

Sydney Trains and NSW TrainLink services:

Platform Line Stopping pattern Notes
1 to 3 services to Grafton, Casino & Brisbane Platforms 1 to 15 are dead-end terminal platforms[14]
services to Armidale & Moree [15]
services to Canberra, Griffith & Melbourne [16]
services to Dubbo & Broken Hill [17]
Great Southern Rail Indian Pacific to Perth [18]
4 to 15 services to Gosford, Wyong & Hamilton via Strathfield [19]
services to Springwood, Katoomba, Mount Victoria, Lithgow & Bathurst [20]
services to Kiama [21]
evening peak services to Moss Vale & Goulburn [22]
one inbound morning peak service [23]
special event services to Olympic Park [24]
services to Berowra via Gordon
services to Hornsby via Macquarie Park & Epping
evening peak services to Gosford & Wyong via Gordon [19]
services to the City Circle via Town Hall [26]
services to the City Circle via Town Hall [27]
services to Epping, Richmond & Emu Plains
late night weekend services to Hornsby via Strathfield
one weekday service to Springwood [20]
services to Homebush
services to Campbelltown via Granville
services to the City Circle via Museum [27]
services to the City Circle via Museum [30]
evening peak services to Macarthur via Sydenham & East Hills [26]
services to Lidcombe & Liverpool via Bankstown [27]
services to Kingsgrove, Revesby & Macarthur via the Airport [26]
services to Bondi Junction [31]
services to Bondi Junction [21]
services to Cronulla, Waterfall & Helensburgh [31]
services to Wollongong, Port Kembla, Dapto & Kiama [21]
26 & 27 Never completed[32] used only for archival document storage[33]
Never completed[32] used only for archival document storage[33]

Indicator Board

When opened, Central station had an indicator board with 22 vertical panels. It was replaced in June 1982 by computer screens and preserved by the Powerhouse Museum.[34] In June 2015, a new elevated 11 metre long indicator board was installed on the main concourse on the same standstone base as the original board.[35]


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

Transport links

Light rail

A light rail vehicle 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.[36] Stops will be located at Rawson Place and on Chalmers Street.

Bus services

1906 Central station Indicator Board on display at the Powerhouse Museum
Eastward view of the concourse in September 2013
Railway Square in December 2006

Many bus services depart from the adjacent Eddy Avenue and Chalmers Street or from the nearby George Street.

A large number of Sydney Buses and Hillsbus services offer interchange with Central.

Coach services

Eddy Avenue coach terminus in December 2009

Long distance coaches depart from Eddy Avenue and Elizabeth Street:

Devonshire Street pedestrian tunnel

After Central was built in 1906, Devonshire Street, 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.[39] The tunnel connects to The Goods Line - a park and pedestrian pathway to Ultimo and Darling Harbour.


  1. ^ "Sydney's Central Station - Now and Then Photos - Sydney". Weekend Notes. 
  2. ^ The New Central Station Sydney Morning Herald 6 August 1906 page 6
  3. ^ Central Railway Station & Sydney Terminal Group NSW Environment & Heritage
  4. ^ Preston, Ronald George (1980). 125 Years of the Sydney to Parramatta Railway. Burwood: The New South Wales Rail Transport Museum. p. 60.  
  5. ^ "New Railway Station. An imposing Building".  
  6. ^ Heritage of Australia, Macmillan Publishers, 1981, p.2/108
  7. ^ Baker, Jordan, "The secret life of us — tunnel vision exposed", Sydney Morning Herald, 2 August 2006. Accessed via Factiva on 5 April 2007.
  8. ^ a b c "Sydney's Electric Trains from 1926 to 1960" Australian Railway Historical Society Bulletin issue 761 March 2001 pages 87, 94, 95 101
  9. ^ Oakes, John (2002). Sydney's Central. Redfern: Australian Railway Historical Society. p. 53.  
  10. ^ "Suburban Report" Railway Digest November 1986 page 344
  11. ^ "Newsline" Railway Digest April 1999 page 12
  12. ^ "Unknown". ARHS Bulletin 56: 3. 1942. 
  13. ^ "CityRail's New Timetable" Railway Digest August 1995 page 13
  14. ^ "North Coast timetable" (PDF). NSW Trainlink. 20 October 2013 [Updated 6 April 2014]. 
  15. ^ "North Coast timetable" (PDF). NSW Trainlink. 20 October 2013 [Updated 6 April 2014]. 
  16. ^ "Southern timetable" (PDF). NSW Trainlink. 20 October 2013 [Updated 30 June 2014]. 
  17. ^ "Western timetable" (PDF). NSW Trainlink. 20 October 2013 [Updated 15 June 2013]. 
  18. ^ "Indian Pacific timetable". Great Southern Rail. 2 August 2015. 
  19. ^ a b "Central Coast & Newcastle line timetable" (PDF). NSW Trainlink. 5 January 2015. 
  20. ^ a b "Blue Mountains line timetable" (PDF). NSW Trainlink. 20 October 2013 [amended January 2015]. 
  21. ^ a b c "South Coast line timetable" (PDF). NSW Trainlink. 20 October 2013 [amended February 2015]. 
  22. ^ "Southern Highlands line timetable" (PDF). NSW Trainlink. 18 April 2015. 
  23. ^ "T6: Carlingford line timetable" (PDF). Sydney Trains. 20 October 2013 [amended January 2015]. 
  24. ^ "T7: Olympic Park line timetable" (PDF). Sydney Trains. 20 October 2013 [amended January 2015]. 
  25. ^ "T1: North Shore & Northern line timetable" (PDF). Sydney Trains. 20 October 2013 [amended February 2015]. 
  26. ^ a b c "T2: Airport line timetable" (PDF). Sydney Trains. 20 October 2013 [amended January 2015]. 
  27. ^ a b c "T3: Bankstown line timetable" (PDF). Sydney Trains. 20 October 2013 [amended January 2015]. 
  28. ^ "T1: Northern line timetable" (PDF). Sydney Trains. 20 October 2013 [amended February 2015]. 
  29. ^ "T1: Western line timetable" (PDF). Sydney Trains. 20 October 2013 [amended January 2015]. 
  30. ^ a b "T2: Inner West & South line timetable" (PDF). Sydney Trains. 20 October 2013 [amended January 2015]. 
  31. ^ a b "T4: Eastern Suburbs & Illawarra line timetable" (PDF). Sydney Trains. 20 October 2013 [amended January 2015]. 
  32. ^ a b In search of platforms 26 and 27: Central station’s mysterious underground world Daily Telegraph 30 October 2014
  33. ^ a b David Johnson's Sydney Underground Photos
  34. ^ Central Station indicator board Powerhouse Museum
  35. ^ Opal takes centre stage at Central Transport for NSW 29 June 2015
  36. ^ CBD & South East Light Rail Project Transport for New South Wales April 2013
  37. ^ Timetables Firefly retrieved 5 April 2015
  38. ^ Australian timetables Premier Transport Group
  39. ^ Tunnelling Through the Past Sydney Architecture

Further reading

  • McKillop, Robert; Ellsmore, Donald; Oakes, John (2008). A Century of Central.  

External links

  • Photographs from NSW Records
  • Sydney Trains - Central station details
  • History of Central station
  • Mark Dunn (2008). "Central Railway Station". ] CC-By-SA [