Airport & South Line

The Airport & South Line (numbered T8, coloured green) (commonly called the East Hills Line) is a suburban commuter rail line in Sydney, Australia. It connects the Sydney central business district with the southwestern suburbs via Sydney Airport. The line is part of the Sydney Trains network. The line began operating on 26 November 2017, when the T2 Airport, Inner West & South Line was split in two. Sydney Trains' predecessor CityRail operated the Airport & East Hills line over an identical route between 2000 and 2013.

T8 Airport & South Line
Service typeCommuter rail
LocaleSydney, Australia
PredecessorAirport, Inner West & South Line
Current operator(s)Sydney Trains
Line(s) used
Rolling stockK, C, M, A and B sets
Track gauge1,435 mm (4 ft 8 12 in) standard gauge
Track owner(s)RailCorp


T8 traverses several railway lines; the City Circle, New Southern (Airport), East Hills and Main South lines. The origins of the current train service can be traced back to the opening of the East Hills line in 1931. The East Hills line was extended to Glenfield in 1987, where it joins the Main South line. The Airport line opened in 2000, providing an additional pair of tracks into the city.

The East Hills line was opened in 1931. Electrification only extended as far as Kingsgrove.[1][2] Services on the non-electrified section were by CPH railmotor, supplemented by through steam trains from Central in peak hours.[3] The section between Kingsgrove and East Hills was opened for electric services on 17 December 1939.[4] Services generally ran all stations from East Hills via Tempe and Sydenham, to the city. Occasional services terminated at Riverwood, Kingsgrove, and Padstow. Most trains use to stop at Erskineville and St Peters - now only served by the T3 line.

When services on the Glenfield extension commenced,[5] there were only limited services from Campbelltown via East Hills during peak hours only; however, in 1988 an all-day half-hourly service was provided. Local (all stations) services generally ran every 15 minutes from East Hills.[6]

Once the Airport line opened, the running patterns of trains changed. The "flying junctions" near Central Station were altered to give the Airport line its own platforms (21 & 23) at Central. Local (all stations) trains generally were timetabled to run from East Hills via the airport, peak hour express trains from Campbelltown run along the original route via Sydenham, taking newly built express tracks between Kingsgrove and Wolli Creek Junction.

The Airport line stations (except Wolli Creek) are operated by a private company, the Airport Link Company, as part of a public private partnership (PPP). Under the deal, the private company would cover the costs of building four of the stations. In return, they would operate those stations for 30 years and have the right to impose a surcharge on fares for their use.[7] The company's involvement was predicated on passenger estimates and train reliability guarantees that later proved to be optimistic. The NSW Government would fund (and own) the railway itself and Wolli Creek station.[7] The Airport Link consistently failed to meet patronage targets. In 2000, the Airport Link Company went into receivership, exposing the government to costs of around $800 million; it was put up for sale in early 2006.[8] State Rail blamed "lower than expected patronage" and stated it was working with the company to increase it.[9] In October 2005, the government and the company signed a revised agreement on revenue and patronage, settling the latter's claims against the former.[10] The stations were purchased by Westpac. In 2009 the business made a profit of A$5.8 million. In 2010 it increased to A$9.3 million.[11] In March 2011 it was announced that the government would cover the cost of the station access fee at Green Square and Mascot stations, meaning that passengers no longer need to pay a surcharge to access these stations. A fee remains in place for Domestic and International stations.[12] Patronage on the link had been growing at 20% per year, but between March and June 2011 patronage increased by 70% as a result of the reduced fares.[13]

The early 2010s saw a shift in how public transport services are delivered in New South Wales. The state government created a new transport authority, Transport for NSW, in 2011. Sydney Trains replaced CityRail as the operator of Sydney's commuter rail services in 2013. These changes saw Transport for NSW take control of the timetabling and branding of services. Transport for NSW introduced a new timetable in late 2013 that saw the Airport and East Hills Line replaced by the T2 Airport, Inner West & South Line. This new line was created by combining three of CityRail's lines. Operationally, the services between Macarthur and the city via the East Hills and Airport lines remained much the same as before.

The 2017 timetable saw the 2013 branding changes partially wound back. The T2 line was split in two. The new T2 consists of services from Leppington to the city via Granville, with a branch to Parramatta being added. Services from Macarthur to the city via Sydney Airport or Sydenham were transferred to the new T8 line. The T8 inherited the green colour of the old T2 and the Airport and East Hills Line.[14] T5 services were also modified to no longer travel to and from Campbelltown, instead starting and terminating at Leppington.[15] These changes mean the section of the network between Glenfield and Macarthur is served exclusively by services operating via the East Hills railway line for the first time.[15]

Operations and stations

Apart from the Airport line's troubles, the line as a whole also suffered a substantial loss in patronage when the M5 East Tunnel opened in 2001. The tunnel joined the Eastern Distributor and M5 South Western Motorway, shortening road travel times between the city and the south-west. The line was estimated to have lost 384,450 commuters over 12 months after the tunnel opened.[16] Since that time, however, the line appears to have gained commuters again, with a reported 3.5% increase in patronage up to early 2006.[17]

T8 stations
Name Distance from
Central (km)
Railway line Serving suburbs Other lines
Town Hall 1.21 1932 City Circle Sydney
Wynyard 1932 Sydney, The Rocks, Millers Point, Barangaroo
Circular Quay 1956 Sydney
The Rocks, Millers Point
St James 1926 Sydney
Museum 1926 Sydney
Central N/A 1855 Haymarket, Ultimo, Surry Hills
At Central the line branches. The south western branch runs via Sydenham, and the southern branch runs via the airport.
Via Sydenham

(peak hours only)

1.30 1878 Illawarra Redfern, Waterloo, Darlington
St Peters

(peak hours only)

3.81 1884 St Peters

(peak hours only)

5.31 1884 Sydenham, Marrickville
Via the airport
Green Square 2.71 2000 Airport Zetland, Beaconsfield, Waterloo none
Mascot 5.19 2000 Mascot, Rosebery
Domestic 6.74 2000 Sydney Airport, Mascot
International 8.27 2000 Sydney Airport, Mascot
Wolli Creek 7.31 2000 Wolli Creek, Arncliffe
Both branches rejoin.
Turrella 8.66 1931 East Hills Turrella none
Bardwell Park 10.10 1931 Bardwell Park, Bardwell Valley, Earlwood
Bexley North 11.37 1931 Bexley North
Kingsgrove 12.62 1931 Kingsgrove
Beverly Hills 14.65 1931 Beverly Hills
Narwee 15.78 1931 Narwee
Riverwood 17.50 1931 Riverwood
Padstow 19.34 1931 Padstow
Revesby 20.96 1931 Revesby, Revesby North
Panania 22.55 1931 Panania
East Hills 24.03 1931 East Hills, Voyager Point, Pleasure Point
Holsworthy 26.76 1987 Holsworthy, Hammondville, Wattle Grove, Pleasure Point
Glenfield 33.03 1869 Main South Glenfield
Macquarie Fields 43.80 1888 Macquarie Fields, Macquarie Links none
Ingleburn 45.65 1869 Ingleburn, Denham Court
Minto 49.67 1874 Minto, Bow Bowing, St Andrews
Leumeah 52.63 1886 Leumeah, Woodbine, Claymore,
Campbelltown 54.71 1858 Campbelltown, Campbelltown North, Blair Athol
Macarthur 56.73 1985 Ambarvale, Englorie Park, Bradbury, Glen Alpine


The following table shows the patronage of Sydney Trains network for the year ending 30 June 2019.

2018-19 Sydney Trains patronage by line[n.b. 1] [21]


  1. Figures based on Opal tap on and tap off data.
    §= T1 between Chatswood and Epping via Macquarie Park was replaced by Station Link bus services between September 2018 and May 2019
    = T1 North Shore, Northern & Western Line was split into the T1 North Shore & Western Line and T9 Northern Line in April 2019


  1. "New railway. Tempe to East Hills". The Sydney Morning Herald. 19 December 1931. Retrieved 4 November 2011.
  2. "Kingsgrove-East Hills. Railway officially opened". The Sydney Morning Herald. 21 December 1931. Retrieved 4 November 2011.
  3. Salt Pan via Dumbleton – The Story of the East Hills Line Oakes, John Australian Railway Historical Society Bulletin, September 2001 pp323-346
  4. Mok, Danny "FordGhia's Railway & Transport in Australia Page: East Hills Line Information & Photos". Retrieved 3 February 2003.
  5. Bozier, Rolfe, "New South Wales Railways: East Hills Line: History". Retrieved 30 December 2006.
  6. "NSW Rail Historical Timetables: Pre CityRail". Retrieved 30 December 2006. Archived 24 October 2009.
  7. The Opening of Sydney's New Southern Railway, Transit Australia, Vol 55 no 7, July 2000.
  8. Baker, Jordan & Nixon, Sherrill, "For sale: ghost train to Sydney Airport", Sydney Morning Herald, 11 March 2006. Retrieved 30 December 2006.
  9. State Rail Authority Annual Report 2000–2001 p?
  10. Rail Corporation New South Wales, Annual Report 2005–6, pp. 59 & 81.
  11. Saulwick, Jacob; Besser, Linton (19 February 2011). "Cheaper for some on airport rail link". The Sydney Morning Herald.
  12. Green Square and Mascot commuters to save $17 a week Archived 21 July 2011 at the Wayback Machine CityRail. 2 March 2011.
  13. Saulwick, Jacob (9 June 2011). "Tickets sales rocket on airport line as prices plunge". The Sydney Morning Herald.
  14. "Changes to Sydney's train network" (PDF). Transport for NSW. Retrieved 9 August 2017.
  15. "More Trains, More Services for South Western Sydney" (PDF). Transport for New South Wales. Government of New South Wales. 27 February 2017. Retrieved 27 February 2017.
  16. Kerr, Joseph, "Motorway takes toll on rail trips", Sydney Morning Herald, 2 April 2003. Retrieved 30 December 2006.
  17. Pearlman, Jonothan, "Passengers crowd onto fewer trains", Sydney Morning Herald, 3 March 2006. Retrieved 30 December 2006.
  18. Bozier, Rolfe, "New South Wales Railways: Main South Line". Retrieved 10 July 2007.
  19. Bozier, Rolfe, "New South Wales Railways: South Coast Line". Retrieved 10 July 2007.
  20. Bozier, Rolfe, "New South Wales Railways: City Circle". Retrieved 1 July 2007.
  21. "Train Patronage - Monthly Figures". Transport for NSW. Retrieved 16 October 2019.
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