Sydney Rail Maps
Git repository: Link
Over the years there have been more than a few railway network maps created for Sydney,
Australia. All sorts of official,
unofficial, hypothetical, geographical, and historical ones can be found via a
websearch with your favourite search engine. This is my contribution to that
pile of pictures.
A hypothetical Sydney heavy rail map
The above map represents a lot of proposals actually implemented and opportunities taken instead
of missed. The map was constructed as a 3000x2800 SVG, but due to rendering consistency issues it
has been exported into PNG format here. Click it to open a full scale version. Since emphasis is on
a "what if" for heavy rail lines, no grid, index, light rail, or other transport services have been
Line Differences and Notes
There are 12 lines depicted, including 6 suburban double deck, 5 metro single deck, and 1
suspension monorail. For the most part the colour of preexisting lines has been made consistent with
recent official maps.
- Northern: The line now terminates at Central, as trains going any further would need
to share with North Shore services. Shares track with the Strathfield metro.
- Western / North Shore: All trains now run express between Blacktown and Central, and
the Richmond branch has been given over entirely to the Cumberland line. This allows a maximum
level of throughput without having to add a third track pair between Blacktown and Granville.
Clyde station no longer exists due to the reworking of the Carlingford line.
- Airport / East Hills: All trains now run via the Airport tunnel, and an additional
station is located at Waterloo. Terminates at Leppington instead of Macarthur.
- Southern / Inner West: The Inner West branch extends to Blacktown while the Southern
branch extends to Macarthur. Clyde station no longer exists. Shares track with the Cumberland
- Illawarra: All trains now run express between Hurstville and Central, and terminate
- Cumberland: Shares track with the Southern / Inner West line. The Richmond branch is
now served exclusively by this line. Now covers a new track section out to Camden instead of
Leppington. While there has been a line to Camden
past prior to 1963, the alignment here is different in order to avoid the steep gradient of
the old line.
- Strathfield: Connects Strathfield to Hurstville as proposed in the
Transport 2010 plan. This line likely has the weakest justification as it results in an
unavoidable excess of trains running between Strathfield and Hornsby. Shares track with the
Northern suburban line.
- Bankstown / Castle Hill: The Lidcombe branch has been given over to a new Olympic
Park metro line. The Liverpool branch now terminates at Cabramatta. The alignment through the
CBD is the Metro-Pitt option, stopping at The Rocks. Uses the same corridor as the North Shore
line between St Leonards and Chatswood. Adds the unfortunately unbuilt station at the former UTS
Kuring-gai campus. Adds stations at Marsfield and Thompsons Corner. Extends the end of the line
through Schofields to Marsden Park.
- Bondi Junction: Handles the all-stops services between Hurstville and Bondi Junction
formerly on the Illawarra line.
- Northern Beaches: Rail service to the Northern Beaches has been proposed as early as
1974 in the Sydney Area Transportion Study, and also in the Action for Transport 2010 plan in
1998 as well as recent Metro plans. Like the Sydney Area Transportation Study this line goes
all the way to the vicinity of Mona Vale. A likely obstacle would be Narrabeen Lagoon. Unlike
all of the proposals listed this line goes via a new, high bridge replacing the current bridge
at The Spit. The alignment through the CBD is the Metro-West option for the northern end,
stopping at Barangaroo, then merges into the Metro-Pitt option at the southern end. Choice of
stations between Central and Parramatta is more in line with the 2008 West Metro proposal and
terminates at Parramatta, although the current proposal of extending to Westmead may also be an
- Olympic Park: Oddly, at the time of writing I am not aware of any proposals to make
use of the Olympic Park branch or better connect it into the network in this way. Uses the
Lidcombe branch formerly of the Bankstown line. This line extends through the major employment
centre of Macquarie Park, and terminates at Gordon to allow for easy interchange with potential
bus rapid transit to and from the northern beaches.
Despite everything else this may be the most controversial idea here. In the past Sydney had a
very poorly designed, low capacity monorail loop
between the CBD and Pyrmont. What is proposed here is much closer to monorail systems found in
countries like Japan and China where monorails are constructed to provide services like a heavy
rail line. The technology would be a modified SAFEGE system to allow for 6 car trains and 80km/h
- Carlingford: In the past, connecting the Carlingford line to Epping or extending rail
service southwest of Parramatta has been considered too expensive. Use of monorail here would
likely bypass that problem by allowing construction above ground over existing road corridors.
This is the only line on the network where this is possible due to the alignment not overlapping
with any other and having no issues with underground stations or overly built up areas.
The Southern / Inner West, Airport / East Hills, and Cumberland lines all overlap track, as do
the Northern and Strathfield lines. All other lines use their own dedicated track pairs exclusively.
This means the hypothetical network is made up of 9 independent sectors overall.
Despite the above, there is some overlap with intercity services. Southern Highlands services
would operate via Glenfield, Wolli Creek, and Sydenham, which makes up for the lack of express East
Hills services from Campbelltown. Central Coast services would still operate via Hornsby, Epping,
Strathfield. In both cases minor interference between sectors is possible.
Other modes of transport have been intentionally left out. This includes an extensive
hypothetical light rail network covering the eastern suburbs, as well as the CBD, parts of the inner
west, and a few lines around Parramatta. There is also potential for important bus rapid transit
services between the North Shore and Northern Beaches, as well as one around Liverpool.
Finally, there are three options for extending public transport to the second Sydney airport at
Badgerys Creek. The Airport / East Hills line could be extended, the Carlingford monorail could be
extended, or a new branch of the Western line could be constructed from St Marys as in current
official maps. In the long term all three options may be ideal. The current proposal of the solitary
St Marys branch may have the unacceptable downside of overcrowding on the Western line.
It is interesting how increased connectivity in a transit network leaves less and less room for
the distortions necessary for the clean schematic lines expected of such maps.
At some point I would like to go back and make a map that includes some of the mentioned unmapped
features. Although at that point it may be more practical to use computational routing methods.