Station Stories – Central Station

In this edition of Station Stories, we are looking at Central Station. Central is the largest and oldest station in New South Wales, however, the current Central is very different from the one that opened in 1855.

Back when we first started this blog we ran a series called “Train Talk Tuesday,” where  every Tuesday we posted a article surround the rail network. The first ever post was a very brief outline about Central station, you can find that post here. In this new series, we will be looking at many of the stations right across the Sydney Trains and NSW TrainLink network.

There have been three different Central Stations throughout the history of Sydney. In 1855 the first railway line opened in Sydney between Redfern and Parramatta. The ‘Central’ station, which was commonly known as ‘Redfern’ was located in the block between Cleveland and Devonshire streets. Described as a ‘temporary tin shed’, it soon outgrew the expanding railway network.

Original Central Station in 1871 – © State of New South Wales through the State Archives and Records Authority of NSW 2016.

A second station on the same site opened in 1874. Railways Chief Engineer John Whitton designed the station and described it as a throughs station designed to allow for the future expansion of the railway network. Whilst the station was impressive when it first opened, it eventually expanded into the forecourt with 13 platforms and 25 million passenger visits each year. The site became too congested and restrictive.

Second Central Station in 1880 – © State of New South Wales through the State Archives and Records Authority of NSW 2016.

By the late 1890s, a plan to move the station to north of Devonshire street was being developed. Minister for Public Works, E.W. O’Sullivan. Government Architect W.L. Vernon designed a 15 platform steel-framed and concrete station. It was approved for construction by parliament on 11 December 1900 at an estimated cost of £561000. Originally 15 platforms opened on 4 August 1906. The first train was a special service to Parramatta that left from Platform 12 on 4 August 1906, with the first regular service a Western Mail train at 5:50am on 5 August 1906.

Platforms 16-19 were added in 1914 and the clock hour opened on 3 March 1921. As part of the electrification of the railways and the construction of the City Circle line, platforms 16-19 were demolished and rebuilt as through platforms and expanded to include 23 platforms in the late 1920s. Platforms 24 and 25 opened with the Eastern Suburbs rail line in 1979. More recently, Platforms 12-15 were demolished in late 2018 to make way for new underground Sydney Metro platform. Platforms 12 and 13 will later be rebuilt alongside a major upgrade of the Grand Concourse.

A view of the Grand Concourse and Clocktower in December 2018 – Transport NSW Blog Collection

Today there are 21 fully-electrified platforms in service at Central Station. It is the busiest train station in Australia, with over 270 000 passengers using the station each day. It is serviced by a wide variety of local, regional and long-distance trains.

Platforms 1-3 service Great Southern Rail’s weekly long distance trans-continental Indian Pacific service to Adelaide and Perth as well as NSW TrainLink interstate long distance services to Canberra, Melbourne and Brisbane.

Platforms 4-11 (and old platforms 12-15) service NSW TrainLink regional services to the Blue Mountains, Central Coast, Newcastle, South Coast, Southern Highlands and Wollongong.

Platforms 16-25 service Sydney Trains local services throughout suburban Sydney including City Circle line, Northern, North Shore and Western line, Inner West line, Bankstown line, Eastern Suburbs and Illawarra line and Airport and South line services across Sydney.

In the coming months we want to see your favourite stations stations featured. Let us know what stations are your favourites and one of them might just be the next station of the month.


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