Bankstown railway line

The Bankstown railway line is a railway line serving the Canterbury-Bankstown and Inner West regions of Sydney between the stations of Sydenham and Lidcombe.

Bankstown railway line
View of the Bankstown railway line as it runs through Dulwich Hill in 2010. The former Rozelle branch of the Metropolitan Goods railway can be seen on the right; it has since been converted to light rail.
Opened1 February 1895
Operator(s)Sydney Trains
opened to Belmore1 February 1895
exended to Bankstown14 April 1909
extended to Regents Park16 July 1928
Line length17
Track gauge1,435 mm (4 ft 8 1⁄2 in)


The line opened on 1 February 1895, branching from the Illawarra line from Sydenham to Belmore.[1] The line was originally constructed as an alternative route for goods traffic on the main southern railway, with planners intending the line to eventually link up with the main line at Liverpool.[2] The 1890s depression put this plan on hold; by the time funds became available again, it had been decided to make the Bankstown line a suburban-only line to service the growing population west of Canterbury.

On 14 April 1909, the line was extended to Bankstown, with intermediate stations at Lakemba and Punchbowl. In 1916, the Metropolitan Goods Line was constructed, running parallel to Bankstown line from Marrickville to Campsie. On 16 July 1928, it was extended to Regents Park where it joined the Main South line via a triangular junction.[3][4]

In 1926, the line between Sydenham and Bankstown became the second line in Sydney to be electrified which also saw Punchbowl Maintenance Depot built. Electrification was extended from Bankstown to Regents Park in 1939.[5] A new station between Lakemba and Punchbowl at Wiley Park opened on 19 June 1938. Punchbowl Maintenance Depot closed in 1994.[6]

In January 2006 a four-year project to upgrade the line was completed. The work included the re-sleepering of the entire line, replacing the former wooden sleepers with the more durable concrete ones, replacement and upgrade of the signalling, and also replacement of the ageing catenary, mostly with the more modern double contact wire variety. The lengthy upgrade process was noted for its "January Closedowns", in which the entire line was closed in January for the bulk of the upgrade work to take place.[7]


Electric passenger services operated along the Bankstown Line to Wynyard station until the 1956 opening of Circular Quay station and the completion of the City Circle. In 1979 with the opening of the Eastern Suburbs line the direction around the City Circle reversed with trips from Bankstown going to St James first and vice versa.

All services operated as a loop, continuing from Lidcombe to the City via the Main Suburban line, until the early 2000s. At this point, this was changed with alternate services routed to terminate at Liverpool.

A new timetable released in October 2013 broke the loop between the two lines. As part of the Rail Clearways Program, new turnbacks were constructed at Lidcombe and Homebush to allow the separation of both lines and increase their reliability and frequency. Services were also changed to operate mostly around the City Circle via Town Hall on weekdays (rather than via Museum).

The line was depicted in a brown colour in the early 1990s[8] before being changed to a purple colour around 2000,[9] before it became the current orange colour.

The line has had various stopping patterns since its introduction. Most services stopped at all stations, alternating between the two branches. Until late 2017, there were no express services except during peak hours. Most express services ran all stops between Liverpool and Campsie, then stopping Sydenham, Redfern, Central, continuing into the City Circle. In 2013, Marrickville and St Peters were added to this express pattern. As part of the More Trains More Services program, in November 2017, extra services on the Bankstown line were added. The express pattern was changed to all stops between Liverpool and Bankstown then Lakemba, Campsie, Marrickville, Sydenham, Redfern then City Circle. This pattern operates on weekdays at all times except for inbound trains during the morning peak. Inbound trains during the morning peak have 5 different stopping patterns, all of which skip at least one stop. Each pattern runs every 30 minutes, for a total of 10 trains per hour.

Trains can terminate at Sydenham (crossover), Campsie (two crossovers), Bankstown (crossover and loop road without platform), Lidcombe (dock platform), Villawood (two crossovers) and Liverpool (loop road with platform). Trains only terminate at Sydenham, Campsie and Villawood due to an issue on the line or during trackwork. Bankstown is also rarely used to terminate, other than for some late night services and during trackwork.

Sydney Metro Rapid Transit

As part of the Sydney Metro Rapid Transit project, the line from Sydenham to Bankstown will be converted by 2024 from its current high capacity double deck commuter rail configuration to a rapid transit line. Using Alstom Metropolis rolling stock,[10] the line is expected to see higher frequency service with fewer seats per train.[11] Consultants have identified the curved steam train-era station platforms on the line as a challenge in its conversion, as straighter platforms are required for the operation of driver-less, high-frequency metro services.[12]


  1. "NSW Railway Passenger Services 1880-1905" Australian Railway History" April 2005
  3. Bankstown Line
  4. The Bankstown Line - an early history CityRail
  5. "Sydney Electric Trains From 1926 to 1960" Australian Railway Historical Society Bulletin issue 762 April 2001
  6. "Punchbowl Closure Forces Timetable Changes" Railway Digest February 1995 page 8
  7. Bankstown Line upgrade successfully completed CityRail 6 February 2006
  8. NSWrail map 1992
  9. Sydney Suburban Network map, 2000
  10. Daily Telegraph November 2015
  11. Fact sheet Archived 4 March 2016 at the Wayback Machine Sydney Rapid Transit June 2014
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