Epping railway line, Melbourne

Epping railway line, Melbourne

type = mel
name = Epping
yearcommenced = 1889
yearcompleted = 1901
yearclosed =
fate =
lengthkm =
stations = 20
tracks = Double track to Keon Park, single track beyond
users = Connex Melbourne
servicepattern =
RollingStock = north
connections = Hurstbridge line
formerconnections = Inner Circle and Whittlesea lines

The Epping railway line is a suburban electric railway in Melbourne, Australia. It branches from the City Loop in the central business district and heads north. The line travels though the northern suburbs of Melbourne, and once extended to the country town of Whittlesea. The line has 20 stations in Metcard ticketing Zones 1 and 2.


The Epping line travels almost due north, traversing gently rising land. It has few curves, few significant grades, and little in the way of earthworks other than a cutting near Northcote. It has numerous level crossings, and only a few bridges over or under roads. Despite the otherwise fairly straight line, it does include Melbourne's sharpest railway curve, between Rushall and Merri. This curve originally made up the third side of a triangular junction, connecting the two original branches from the now-closed North Fitzroy station. [Victorian Railways signal diagram: cite web
title=North Fitzroy to Merri
] Only this third leg of the triangle remains. The entire line runs through built-up areas of Melbourne's northern suburbs.


The line is double track to Keon Park, then single track to the terminus, although with a crossing loop at Lalor. The line is controlled by automatic block signalling (ABS) up to Keon Park, then uses Automatic Track Control (ATC) as far as Lalor. From Lalor to Epping, the safeworking system in use is Station Limits. There are intermediate terminating facilities at Bell, Keon Park, and Lalor, none of which are normally used. Stabling facilities are provided at Epping, which is also the location of a repair centre.


The beginnings of the Epping line was opened on 8 October 1889 as part of railway extensions into the northern suburbs. What became known as the Inner Circle line was opened from Spencer Street Station via Royal Park station to a station called Collingwood (but now called Victoria Park), and then on to Heidelberg. The Epping line branched off at Fitzroy North to Preston Reservoir station (later renamed Reservoir) in 1889, the line being extended to Whittlesea a few months later on 23 December.cite web
title=VR History

Trains on the line operated via Fitzroy and the Inner Circle until the opening of the current connection between Victoria Park and Princes Bridge stations in 1901. Passenger services were operated in two tiers: a local train to Preston Reservoir station via Clifton Hill, and a country mixed train to Whittlesea via Fitzroy.cite journal | year = 1995 | month = November | title = Reservoir - Whittlesea: Signalling and Safeworking | author = Jack McLean | journal = Newsrail | publisher = Australian Railway Historical Society (Victorian Division) | pages = pages 333–337 ] The Epping line was electrified to Reservoir in 1921, with an AEC railmotor providing a shuttle service to the terminus at Whittlesea. Preston Reservoir station was renamed Reservoir in 1909.

The line had a number of Rail Motor Stopping Places along the line, these being a mere nameboard beside the railway line at a convenient public access point. The first were RMSP 8, 9 and 10 opened on May 10 1927; followed by Epping Quarries Siding RMSP in January 1928; RMSP 17 in March 1928; RMSP 26 in January 1930; RMSP 33 in July 1932; RMSP 39 in July 1941; and RMSP 77 in October 1949, renamed Lalor station in 1952. Direct Whittlesea trains from Flinders Street and Spencer Street station were withdrawn from 1948.cite web
title=Extracts of 'The Whittlesea Railway' by Robert Aquilina}|work=The Northcote History Group

Electrification was extended along convert|4.4|km|mi|lk=on of single track to Thomastown in 1929, paid for by a land developer who paid for the works, as well as guaranteeing against operating loses. Keon Park station was opened at the same time, but the Whittlesea shuttle train continued to connect with suburban trains at Reservoir until 1931. From this time a double ended Leyland railmotor was provided, and connections made at Thomastown. Goods trains to Whittlesea were withdrawn in 1955, and goods trains from Epping ended in 1958.

Electric suburban services were extended to Lalor station in November 1959, in addition to duplication of the line from Reservoir to Keon Park,cite book
last = S.E. Doorman and R.G. Henderson
title = Electric Railways of Victoria
publisher = Australian Electric Traction Society
page = page 84
year = 1979
isbn = 0 909459 06 1
] with services beyond this point to Whittlesea discontinued and the line closed. The line to Epping itself was reopened and electrified in 1964, with the remaining line dismantled in the 1970s. However, the right-of-way is still in place and is retained for a future railway extension.

Following the election of the Bracks Government in 1999 a promise was made to restore the service to South Morang along the former right-of-way by 2003,cite web
title=Rail extension revived, but locals sceptical - National - theage.com.au
] however to this date no work has commenced. In 2003 a "trainlink" bus service was introduced from Epping to South Morang meeting every train, but the 2005 Meeting Our Transport Challenges plan postponed construction of the railway until 2021. The restoration of the railway to Mernda is also identified in the Strategic Transportation Study undertaken by the City of Whittlesea in 2002. In the 2008 State Budget A$10 million was earmarked for design work on the four kilometre extension, in addition to design work for duplication between Keon Park and Epping stations.

A proposal also exists for a spur line to be constructed to Epping North and the new suburb of Aurora, at a cost of between A$76 million and A$300 million. The line would branch off the Epping line at Lalor, with new stations at Epping Plaza, Aurora and Epping North. [cite web
title=Anger grows over dumped rail extension - National - theage.com.au

Line guide

Bold stations are termini, where some train services terminate; "italic" stations are staffed; and stations with an asterisk (*) are manned only during morning peak.

Branches from the City Loop at "Flinders St" and "Parliament".


Further reading

* cite book
author = Robert Aquilina
title = The Whittlesea Railway - A brief history of the Fitzroy and Whittlesea railway 1889-1959 including current day operations
publisher = Self published
year = 1999

External links

* [http://www.vicsig.net/index.php?page=infrastructure&section=lineguide&line=Epping Statistics and detailed schematic map] at the [http://www.vicsig.net/ VicSig] enthusiast website

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