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Main Southern railway line, New South Wales

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Title: Main Southern railway line, New South Wales  
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Subject: Junee railway station, Main Western railway line, New South Wales, Airport, Inner West & South Line, Frampton, New South Wales, Aylmerton, New South Wales
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Main Southern railway line, New South Wales

Main Southern Line
New Binalong railway station on 1916 deviation
Track gauge 1,435 mm (4 ft 8 12 in)
Route map
Main Suburban line at Lidcombe
junction Main South line
junction Carlingford line
junction Main Western & Old Main South lines
Canley Vale
Regents Park
junction Bankstown line
Chester Hill
junction Old Main South
junction Warwick Farm Racecourse
Warwick Farm
junction Holsworthy line
junction East Hills line
junction South West Rail Link
Macquarie Fields
junction Camden line
southern limit of electrification
junction Glenlee colliery line
Menangle Park
North Menangle
Douglas Park
junction Maldon – Dombarton line
junction Picton – Mittagong loop line
Hill Top
Colo Vale
Bradken rolling stock works
junction Picton – Mittagong loop line
Bong Bong
Berrima cement works
junction Unanderra – Moss Vale line
Moss Vale
Medway Quarry line
Murrays Flats
North Goulburn
junction Crookwell line
junction Bombala line
Fish River
Yass Junction
Yass Town line
junction Burrinjuck tramway
Illalong Creek
junction Boorowa line
Rocky Ponds
junction Blayney line
Morrisons Hill
junction Lake Cargelligo line
junction Tumut line
junction Hay line
Junee Racecourse
Murrumbidgee River
junction Tumbarumba line
Wagga Wagga
junction Kywong line
Bon Accord
junction Westby line
The Rock
junction Oaklands line
Yerong Creek
junction Rand line
junction Corowa & Holbrook lines
Table Top
Albury Racecourse
Murray River & Victorian border 
to Melbourne on North East line 

The Main Southern Railway is a major railway in New South Wales, Australia. It runs through the Southern Highlands, Southern Tablelands, South West Slopes and the Riverina regions.


  • Description of route 1
  • Development of the line 2
    • Branches 2.1
  • Passenger services 3
    • Commuter services 3.1
    • Country services 3.2
  • See also 4
  • References 5

Description of route

The Main Southern Railway commences as an electrified pair of tracks in the Sydney metropolitan area. Originally the line branched from the Main Suburban railway line at Granville, passing through Fairfield and Cabramatta to Liverpool. However this section was later bypassed with a more direct route from Lidcombe via Regents Park to Cabramatta. The former route through Fairfield became known as the Old Main South. From Liverpool, the line heads into Campbelltown and Macarthur, the current limit of electrification and suburban passenger services. The electrification previously extended to Glenlee colliery, but this was removed following the cessation of electric haulage of freight trains in the 1990s.

The line continues as a double non-electrified track south through the Southern Highlands towns of Mittagong and Goulburn to Junee on the Southern Plains. Here the line becomes single track for the remainder of its journey south to the state border with Victoria at Albury. The North East railway line then continues through northern Victoria to Melbourne.

The line north of Macarthur is maintained by RailCorp. South of Macarthur the line is leased to the Australian Rail Track Corporation until 2064.[1][2]

Development of the line

In 26 September 1855 the first railway in New South Wales, the Sydney–Granville railway opened. Exactly a year later, a branch was opened from what was known as Parramatta Junction (the present day Granville) to Liverpool. This line was extended to Campbelltown in 1858, Picton in 1863, Mittagong in 1867, Marulan in 1868, Goulburn in 1869, Yass Junction in 1876, Galong, Harden-Murrumburrah and Cootamundra in 1877 and Junee and Bomen (on the north bank of the Murrumbidgee River) in 1878. The Murrumbidgee River Railway Bridge was completed in 1881[3] and the line was extended to Wagga Wagga, Uranquinty, The Rock, Henty and Albury in 1881.[4][5] Victorian Railways' North East 1,600 mm (5 ft 3 in) gauge line was extended from Wodonga to Albury station in 1883.[6] To accommodate the break of gauge, a very long railway platform was built, the covered platform being one of the longest in Australia.

The original alignment was built under the supervision of John Whitton, Engineer-in-Charge for the New South Wales Railways from 1856 to 1898.[7]

The original single track was duplicated from Granville to Liverpool in 1857,[8] to Campbelltown in 1891,[9] to Picton in 1892.[10] Between 1913 and 1922 the 343 km (213 mi) section from Picton to Cootamundra was duplicated.[11] At the same time, the section between Picton and Mittagong was deviated by a less direct route in 1919 to ease the steep grades of the original alignment, and the old line became known as the Picton – Mittagong loop railway line which is now largely closed. (The Main Southern Railway Deviation, was estimated in the 1914 Act of Parliament to have construction costs of £630,353).[12] Other sections of the original Whitton alignment between Goulburn and Wagga Wagga were also replaced by more curvy sections with lower grades. The section from Cootamundra to Junee, including a rail spiral at Bethungra, was duplicated between 1941 and 1945.[13][14]

Construction of a standard gauge track parallel with the broad gauge track from Albury to Melbourne commenced in 1959, completing the Sydney–Melbourne railway.[15] The first freight train operating on the line on 3 January 1962, followed by the first passenger train on 16 April 1962.[15]

The original wrought iron Murrumbidgee River Railway Bridge at Wagga Wagga was replaced in 2007 by a new concrete and steel bridge.[16][17]

The main line south of Junee was substantially upgraded in 2007 and 2008, including the construction of passing loops up to 7 kilometres (4.3 mi).[18]

Redbank Tunnel near Tahmoor closed on 30 November 2012 when replaced by a deviation funded by Xstrata to allow expansion of its Tahmoor Colliery under the tunnel which was sealed.[19][20]

In January 2013, the Australian Rail Track Corporation opened the Southern Sydney Freight Line between Sefton and Macarthur as a dedicated line for freight services.


Binalong station and telegraph office

Several lines branched from the Main South, some of which are in-part or fully closed:

  • The Bombala line was opened from Goulburn to Bungendore in 1885, Queanbeyan in 1887, Cooma in 1889, Nimmitabel in 1912 and Bombala in 1921.[21] This line south of Queanbeyan served largely pastoral country and therefore it did not have any major freight traffic. The line south of [Cooma closed in 1986 and south of Queanbeyan in 1989.
  • The Canberra Branch, an 8 km branch line from Queanbeyan to Canberra, was opened in 1914.[22] A 34 km branch line from Bungendore to Captains Flat was opened in 1940 and closed in 1969, a few years after the closure of the local mines.[23]
  • The Yass Tramway, a 5 km-long line between Yass Junction and Yass, opened in 1892 and closed in 1989.[26]
  • The Burrinjuck Tramway was a 2 ft (610 mm) gauge line which was built in about 1907 from Goondah (between Bowning and Binalong) to Burrinjuck for the construction of the Burrinjuck Dam and closed in 1929, following the completion of construction.[27]
  • The Grenfell branch was built from Koorawatha Junction (31 km south of Cowra) to Grenfell in 1901.[32] This line is now closed. A branch was built from Cowra to Canowindra in 1910 and Eugowra in 1922, but is now closed.[33]
  • The Tumut line was completed from Cootamundra to Gundagai in 1886 and extended to Tumut in 1903,[38] and a branch from it was built to Batlow and Kunama in 1923. The line south of Batlow was closed 1957 and the rest closed after flood damage in 1984.[39]
  • The Yanco- Griffith connection was completed between Yanco and Griffith on the line between Cootamundra, Hillston and Roto in 1922.[42] This line is still served by one passenger train per week.
  • The Holbrook line was a short line which opened from Culcairn to Holbrook in 1902 and closed in the 1980s.[49]

Passenger services

Albury station looking south with the standard gauge platform on the left, broad gauge platform on the right

Commuter services

Electric commuter passenger trains operate between Sydney and Macarthur as part of the T2. Diesel railcars operate south from Campbelltown to Goulburn on an irregular frequency as part of the Southern Highlands Line.

Country services

Prior to 1962 travelling south of Albury into Victoria required a change of trains (due to gauge differences between NSW and Victoria) and often an overnight stay. From March 1956 a daylight connection was introduced between Sydney and Melbourne whereby a train from Sydney connected at Albury with a train to Melbourne and vice versa. In 1962 the railway south of Albury was converted to standard gauge, allowing through operation of trains between Sydney and Melbourne. Between April 1962 and August 1991, the Main South was served by the Intercapital Daylight, a locomotive hauled limited stop passenger train. It was operated jointly by the New South Wales Government Railways and the Victorian Railways with the former's air-conditioned rolling stock. Two overnight services also ran, the limited stops Southern Aurora and the Spirit of Progress. Until 1982 locomotives were exchanged at Albury for a locomotive of the respective state that the train was entering.

The South Mail operated overnight between Sydney and Albury until it ceased in June 1985. In August 1986 the Southern Aurora and the Spirit of Progress were merged into the Sydney/Melbourne Express. In August 1991, airline deregulation and falling patronage saw the Intercapital Daylight replaced by a coach service between Melbourne and Albury, connecting with the Riverina XPT at Albury. In November 1993 the delivery of additional XPT rollingstock saw the introduction of a through overnight XPT service between Sydney and Melbourne, replacing the Sydney/Melbourne Express, and the Riverina XPT extended to Melbourne from December 1994.[50]

As at December 2014, NSW TrainLink services operated on the Main South line were:[51]

  • Sydney to Canberra - 3 in each direction per day
  • Sydney to Griffith - 1 in each direction per week
  • Sydney to Melbourne - 2 in each direction per day

See also


  1. ^ Memorandum between The Commonwealth of Australia & The State of New South Wales & Australian Rail Track Corporation Limited Australian Rail Track Corporation
  2. ^ The Agreement in Summary Australian Rail Track Corporation
  3. ^ "Murrumbidgee River Rail Bridge, Wagga Wagga, NSW (entry AHD15910)".  
  4. ^ "Albury Railway Precinct". Department of Environment and Heritage. 
  5. ^ "Main South Line". Retrieved 2008-04-16. 
  6. ^ T. Richards (1883). The Union of the railway systems of New South Wales and Victoria: Celebration at Albury, on the 14th June, 1883. New South Wales Government. 
  7. ^ C. C. Singleton. "Whitton, John (1820–1898)". Australian Dictionary of Biography. National Centre of Biography, Australian National University. 
  8. ^ "Liverpool Railway Precinct". Department of Environment and Heritage. 
  9. ^ "Campbelltown Railway Precinct". Department of Environment and Heritage. 
  10. ^ "Picton Railway Precinct". Department of Environment and Heritage. 
  11. ^ "Goulburn Viaduct (Mulwaree Ponds)". Heritage Council of New South Wales. 
  13. ^ "Picton Railway Precinct". Department of Environment and Heritage. 
  14. ^ "Bethungra Spiral". Heritage Council of New South Wales. 
  15. ^ a b "VR timeline". Mark Bau. Retrieved 2008-04-08. 
  16. ^ "Wagga Wagga" (PDF). Railway Lattice Bridge and Viaducts.  
  17. ^ "Iron Lattice Girder Railway Bridges" (PDF). Endangered Places.  
  18. ^ "Main rail line to get better passing loops". Border Mail. 10 June 2007. 
  19. ^ "Rail tunnel will soon be history". Wollondilly Advertiser. 15 January 2013. 
  20. ^ "Signaling & Infastructure" Railway Digest February 2013 page 51
  21. ^ "Bombala Line". Retrieved 2006-12-11. 
  22. ^ "Canberra Branch". Retrieved 2006-12-11. 
  23. ^ "Captains Flat Branch". Retrieved 2006-12-11. 
  24. ^ "Crookwell Branch". Retrieved 2006-12-11. 
  25. ^ "Taralga Branch". Retrieved 2006-12-11. 
  26. ^ "Yass Branch". Retrieved 2006-12-12. 
  27. ^ "Goondah–Burrinjuck Line". Retrieved 2006-12-12. 
  28. ^ "Boorowa Branch". Retrieved 2006-12-11. 
  29. ^ "Vale Boorowa" Railway Digest" December 1987 page 392
  30. ^ Date, Ken; Dominik Giemza (December 2006). "Southern Semaphore Swansong". Railway Digest (Australian Railway Historical Society NSW Div) 44 (12). 
  31. ^ "Blayney – Demondrille Line". Retrieved 2006-12-11. 
  32. ^ "Grenfell Branch". Retrieved 2006-12-11. 
  33. ^ "Eugowra Branch". Retrieved 2006-12-11. 
  34. ^ "Lake Cargelligo Branch". Retrieved 2006-12-11. 
  35. ^ "Stockinbingal – Parkes Line". Retrieved 2006-12-11. 
  36. ^ "Temora – Roto Line". Retrieved 2006-12-11. 
  37. ^ "Rankins Springs Branch". Retrieved 2006-12-11. 
  38. ^ "Tumut Branch". Retrieved 2006-12-11. 
  39. ^ "Kunama Branch". Retrieved 2006-12-11. 
  40. ^ "Hay Branch". Retrieved 2006-12-11. 
  41. ^ "Tocumwal Branch". Retrieved 2006-12-11. 
  42. ^ "Yanco – Griffith Line". Retrieved 2006-12-11. 
  43. ^ "Tumbarumba Branch". Retrieved 2006-12-11. 
  44. ^ "Kywong Branch". Retrieved 2006-12-11. 
  45. ^ "Oaklands Branch". Retrieved 2006-12-11. 
  46. ^ "Westby Branch". Retrieved 2006-12-11. 
  47. ^ "Rand Branch". Retrieved 2006-12-11. 
  48. ^ "Corowa Branch". Retrieved 2006-12-11. 
  49. ^ "Holbrook Branch". Retrieved 2006-12-11. 
  50. ^ Banger, C. The Intercapital Daylight, 1956–1991 Australian Railway Historical Society Bulletin June 2001
  51. ^ "Southern timetable" (PDF). NSW Trainlink. 20 October 2013 [Updated 30 June 2014]. 
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