Werribee railway line, Melbourne

Werribee railway line, Melbourne

type = mel
name = Werribee
yearcommenced = 1857
yearcompleted = 1859
yearclosed =
fate =
lengthkm =
stations =
tracks = Double track throughout, except for the Altona loop
users = Connex Melbourne, V/Line to Geelong, freight
servicepattern = Stopping all stations, some peak expresses
RollingStock = south
connections = Sydenham, Williamstown, Geelong lines
formerconnections =

The Werribee railway line is a suburban electric railway in Melbourne, Australia. It has 15 stations, in Metcard ticketing Zones 1 and 2. The Werribee line is the suburban portion of the Port Fairy railway used by regional services to Geelong and Warrnambool, apart from a deviation from the main line though Altona.


The line traverses the flat plains of Melbourne's western suburbs, and after leaving Footscray has no significant earthworks. The area around the outer end of the line has seen significant residential growth in recent years.


The Werribee line consists of multiple tracks (shared with other lines) from the City Loop until South Kensington where it reverts to double track. From shortly after Newport, the two tracks are signalled for bidirectional operation, although it is rare for trains to not use left-hand running. At "Altona Junction", just after the start of bidirectional operation, the Altona line diverges. This is a single-track branch which rejoins the main line at Laverton. Passing loops are provided at Westona and at "Laverton Loop", a crossing loop just before the branch rejoins the main line.

Automatic block signalling applies throughout the line. Terminating facilities are provided at South Kensington (never normally used), Newport, and Laverton (not normally used). Newport is also the location of the Newport Railway Workshops, formerly the main workshops of the Victorian Railways. Stabling facilities are provided at Newport Workshops, and trains are also stabled overnight in the platform at Werribee.


Early in 1857, the Geelong and Melbourne Railway Company opened the Werribee to Little River section of the line they were building between Newport and Geelong, Victoria, then in June of that year, opened the section between Werribee and a temporary station near Newport, known as Greenwich. The intention was to connect to the Williamstown line being built by the Melbourne, Mount Alexander and Murray River Railway Company, with whom they had arranged permission to run the former company's trains over the latter company's tracks to Melbourne, but the Williamstown line was not yet ready.

However, by October 1857, construction of the Williamstown line was sufficiently advanced to allow the Geelong trains to run to the terminus at Williamstown Pier, so Greenwich was closed and a connection was made to the Williamstown line towards Williamstown. From Williamstown Pier, passengers could connect to a ferry across Hobson's Bay to Port Melbourne.

The Williamstown line opened in January 1859, so the connection near Newport towards Williamstown was removed and replaced with a connection to Newport, and through running of Geelong trains to Melbourne commenced.

In April 1885, a short branch was opened off the Werribee line just past Newport to Williamstown Racecourse, and in November 1888 a branch was opened off the Racecourse branch to Altona, Victoria, terminating at a station named Altona Beach. This branch was opened by the Altona and Laverton Bay Freehold and Investment Co. Ltd. in order to encourage people to buy their land in the area. However, the line closed less than two years later, in August 1890.

A portion of the Altona Beach line near Williamstown Racecourse was leased by the Victorian Railways (VR) in 1906 to store race trains, and sometime between 1911 and 1919 the line must have been reopened for goods trains, as a siding was built from Altona Beach to the Melbourne and Altona Colliery Co. mine. From November 1917 the VR worked the line on behalf of the then owners, Altona Beach Estates Ltd., but to a relocated Altona Beach station, short of the original terminus.

The VR electrified the Williamstown line and the branch to Williamstown Racecourse in August 1920. In October 1924, the VR took total control of the Altona Beach line, and electrified it in October 1926.

Automatic Block Signalling was commissioned between South Kensington and Yarraville in August 1927, and then on to Newport. The Automatic and Track Control system was installed from Newport South towards Geelong, enabling bidirectional use of the then single track line.

The Williamstown Racecourse branch closed in May 1950.

Duplication of the Werribee line occurred in the 1960s, the first section being between a crossing loop named Rock Loop and Laverton in May 1965, followed by Newport B Box to Rock Loop in October 1967, and Laverton to Werribee in September 1968. The Altona branch was converted to Automatic Block Signalling in October 1967.

In September 1984, electrification was extended from Altona Junction to Werribee, whilst in January 1985, the Altona line was extended to Westona. In April 1985 Altona to Westona, which had temporarily been operated by Staff and Ticket safeworking, was converted to Automatic Block Signalling, and a few days later the line was extended to Laverton on the Werribee line. Since then, all Werribee suburban trains have run via Altona, except for empty (placement) trips and a few peak-period services.

Line guide

Bold stations are termini, where some train services terminate; "italic" stations are staffed; and stations with an asterisk (*) are manned only during morning peak.

Branches from the Sydenham line at "Footscray".

External links

* [http://www.vicsig.net/index.php?page=infrastructure&section=lineguide&line=Werribee Statistics and detailed schematic map] at the [http://www.vicsig.net/ VicSig] enthusiast website
* [http://www.railgeelong.com/lineguide.php?line=geelong History of the Geelong line] (of which the Werribee line is a subset)

Further reading

* "The Altona Line" Lyell, A.R. Australian Railway Historical Society Bulletin, July, 1959 pp97-100

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