Inner West railway line, Sydney

Inner West railway line, Sydney

Public transport infrastructure in Sydney
name=Inner West Line
transport_mode=Commuter rail line
Town Hall
fleet_names=C, R, S, T, M sets
The Inner West Line is a railway line located in the Inner West region of Sydney, Australia. It runs on the section of track sometimes known as the "Main Suburban" railway line.

Main Suburban Line

The Main Suburban railway line is the technical name for the trunk railway line between Redfern railway station and Parramatta railway station in Sydney, Australia, but now generally refers to the section between Redfern and where the Old Main South Line branches off at Granville Junction. ["Sydney Electric Trains from 1926-1960", Australian Railway Historical Society Bulletin, April 2001.] This term distinguished this trunk line from the Illawarra Line which branched south from the Illawarra Junction to Wollongong, and later the North Shore tracks which carried trains north over the Harbour Bridge.

This section of railway line is Sydney's oldest, opening in 1855. The line was quadruplicated to Flemington in 1892 [Australian Railway History, Vol 56, No. 810, April 2005 p141] . The line saw its most dramatic change in the period 1926-1927, when the section from Redfern to Homebush was expanded from 4 to 6 tracks by the addition of 2 tracks initially intended for non-electric express trains. Prior to 1926, all stations on the line had platform faces to all four tracks, and the tracks were labelled as 'fast' and 'slow'. After the completion of works in 1927, only Redfern and Strathfield had platform faces on all six tracks. ["Sydney Electric Trains from 1926-1960", Australian Railway Historical Society Bulletin, April 2001.] . The four tracks now known as the 'Up and Down Local lines' and the 'Up and Down Suburban Lines' were electrified in 1928. It was not until 1955 that the 'Up and Down Main Lines' were also electrified to coincide with the opening of the Blue Mountains electrification programme.

Description of route

The route of the Inner West Line consist of three pairs of tracks between Central and Strathfield stations (six tracks in total), designated as "Main" (the northern-most pair), "Suburban" (the inner pair) and the "Local" (the southernmost pair) lines. At Strathfield, the Main North Line branches off, and four tracks continue westwards. At Lidcombe, the Main South line branches off towards Regents Park and on to Cabramatta where the line meets the "Old Main South" from Granville, continuing south to Liverpool and beyond. What CityRail currently markets as the "Inner West Line" are services which originate from an anti-clockwise direction around the City Circle, passing through Redfern and along the 'local' pair of tracks to Strathfield, then on through Lidcombe to Regents Park. Here trains alternately operate along the 'Main South' to Liverpool via Cabramatta, or to Bankstown, becoming Bankstown line services.


The Inner West line between Redfern and Granville is the route of the first railway line to be constructed in New South Wales. The first company to start rail transport in New South Wales was the Sydney Railway Company which was incorporated on 10 October 1849 with the aim of building a railway from Sydney to Parramatta. Capital was raised, shares were sold, and a route was surveyed. The first sod was turned by Mrs Keith Stewart (daughter of the Governor) at Cleveland Paddocks (an area between the southern end of the current Sydney station and Cleveland Street) on 20 May 1850.

The original engineer appointed was Francis Webb Shields, an Irishman. He persuaded the New South Wales legislature to pass an Act on 27 July 1852 requiring all railways in the colony to be of convert|5|ft|3|in|m gauge. This was the gauge in use in Ireland and is now referred to as 1600 mm gauge. After Shields resigned because of the difficulties, a Scot named James Wallace was appointed. Wallace persuaded the legislature to repeal the previous act and replace it, on 4 August 1853, with one requiring a gauge of 4 feet 8½ inches - the current standard gauge of 1435 mm. (Unfortunately for Australia, the legislation requiring the broad gauge had been noted in the colonies of Victoria and South Australia and some rolling-stock ordered.)

The Sydney Railway Company encountered many troubles: engineers came and went; real estate required became expensive and difficult to acquire; money, supplies and manpower ran short, partly because of a gold rush. Eventually the property of the Sydney Railway Company was transferred to the government of New South Wales on 3 September 1855.

The line opened on 26 September 1855, from Sydney to Parramatta Junction (near Granville Station), with stations at Newtown, Ashfield, Burwood and Homebush. [cite web
title=William Webster - the first railway engineer
publisher=The Iron Road
] The Sydney terminal station was on the south side of Devonshire Street, just south of the current Central Station. Although the vicinity was sometimes referred to as Redfern, it was not near the current Redfern station.

Current Services

The current line runs from City Circle to Central, thence to Strathfield, Lidcombe, Regent's Park, Cabramatta, and Liverpool. Services only operate over the entire route length of the line during weekday peak hours only. Peak hour operation consists of 2 trains per hour between Liverpool and the City operating express between Ashfield and Redfern, 2 trains per hour between Ashfield and the City and 2 trains per hour between Regents Park (from Bankstown) to the City. Off peak service consists of the latter two service types only (that is, no service between Liverpool and Regents Park- this section is serviced by the Bankstown Line at these times). Weekend service consists only of 2 trains per hour between Regents Park (from Bankstown) to the City. The next timetable revision is expected in the first half of 2009 when the CityRail Clearways Project is complete, and it is anticipated that services will operate from a new platform and turnback at Homebush, then clockwise around the City Circle onto the East Hills Line (along the "Airport & South" clearway route).


Prior to 1996, the Inner West line was considered part of the Bankstown Line and was coloured brown on promotional material and directional signage. A timetable named "Parramatta Line" carried details of all services between Parramatta and the City, including Northern, Southern, Western and Bankstown line services. The section between Lidcombe and Cabramatta via Regents Park was considered part of the "Macarthur Line" (what is now the "South Line"), and was colour-coded green. From 1996, when the Merrylands to Harris Park Y- Link opened and the timetable was re-written, the Lidcombe to Cabramatta via Regents Park section was colour coded brown and a new timetable labelled "Liverpool- City via Regents Park" was published. The August 1999 timetable revision saw the term "Inner West Line" used for the first time, and the line was colour coded purple which it has maintained to the present day.

Inner West Line stations


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