CityRail Clearways Project

CityRail Clearways Project
A CityRail ticket with Rail Clearways promotional material.

The CityRail Clearways Project is a $1.8 billion program of public works on Sydney's CityRail suburban railway network to "untangle" the excessively intertwined and complicated rail network. The Government of New South Wales has suffered heavy criticism for its perceived mishandling of the Sydney rail network - which had very poor on time performance following the Waterfall train disaster in January 2003. The safety regime introduced after this crash required drivers to stick to the speed limit, which often caused delays due to the expectations of the timetable for higher speeds. A new slower timetable was introduced in September 2005, which significantly improved on time running.[1] The clearways plan is intended to be the next step in improving on time performance.

Currently, delays on one part of the system can affect trains in a completely different section of the network, due to the heavily interwoven system in which infrastructure, carriages and services are shared between lines. The Clearways project aims to divide the network's fourteen metropolitan rail lines into five independent "clearways". This is intended to isolate incidents to one part of the network so other clearways will still run as scheduled, increasing on time performance. The clearways will feed the existing lines through the Central Business District.[2] As the Carlingford Line does not run through the CBD, it is not included in any of the clearway routes. However, a Carlingford Line upgrade was included in the clearways project before being cancelled in the November 2008 Mini-Budget.[3] The Cumberland Line is spread across Clearways 4 and 5. Intercity lines are not included in the project but may incur fewer delays as trains pass through the suburban area and benefit from the improved reliability of suburban services.[4]

All projects were delivered by the Transport Construction Authority until November 2011, when TCA was subsumed by Transport for New South Wales.


Clearways routes

The five clearways routes are designed to improve capacity and help isolate operating problems. These routes are:

Clearway 1: Eastern Suburbs and Illawarra

This route will not change from the current Eastern Suburbs and Illawarra line. The projects undertaken on this route have increased capacity.

Clearway 2: Bankstown

After the Airport line was opened in 2000, most East Hills line trains used the new line to approach the city, easing congestion on the line between Sydenham and Erskineville, where tracks are shared with the Bankstown line. As of 2006 almost all East Hills trains run via the Airport. After the Campbelltown express clearway opens, trains from the south west will again run via Sydenham. This requires dedicated tracks for the Bankstown line between Sydenham and Erskineville. St Peters and Erskineville railway stations are expected to continue to be served by the Bankstown line and will require new platforms. A new turnback platform will also be constructed at Lidcombe, separating the Bankstown line's operations from the Inner West line which will be truncated to Homebush.

Clearway 3: Campbelltown Express

The Campbelltown Express Clearway will separate the section of the East Hills line west of Revesby from the inner section that line by quaduplicating between Kingsgrove and Revesby. This will allow more frequent express services to the City, relieve pressure on other parts of the network and improve the distribution of passengers. Trains will go from Macarthur through to Revesby then express through to the City Circle via Sydenham and back again.

Clearway 4: Airport and South

The Airport and South Clearway will feed the Inner West, East Hills and Airport, and South lines. Faster services from the South Line will begin at Glenfield and make their way through Liverpool, Cabramatta, Granville, Lidcombe and Strathfield stations to the City Circle. All-stations Inner West Line services to the City will start at Homebush.[5] After passing through the City Circle, trains will head south-west via the Airport to Revesby (running parallel with the Campbelltown Express line from Wolli Creek to Revesby).

Clearway 5: North West

North West Clearway will provide an independent corridor for the North Shore, Northern and Western lines. It will improve reliability and capacity. Trains from the west will start from the Richmond, Penrith or Epping branches, meet up at Strathfield and travel through the city to Chatswood. Here trains will split, either continuing up the North Shore line to Berowra, or via the Epping to Chatswood line to Hornsby.


Many infrastructure upgrades need to be completed in order to implement the Clearways plan. These projects include upgrading stations, adding extra tracks, stabling facilities, or upgrading junctions. The projects include:

Project Clearway[5] Opened
Berowra third platform North West October 2006
Bondi Junction turnback and stabling sidings. Eastern Suburbs and Illawarra July 2006
Carlingford Line passing loop at Rydalmere N/A Cancelled November 2008[3]
Erskineville-Sydenham six tracks Bankstown, Campbelltown Express Cancelled November 2008[3]
Homebush Turnback Airport and South March 2011
Hornsby fifth platform North West March 2009
Kingsgrove-Revesby Quadruplication
includes second turnbck at Revesby
Campbelltown Express, Airport and South Under construction
Lidcombe Turnback Bankstown November 2010
Liverpool Second Turnback Bankstown Under construction
Macarthur fourth platform and upgrade Campbelltown Express Stage one (upgrade) December 2010
Macdonaldtown Turnback Airport and South December 2005
Macdonaldtown Stabling Airport and South November 2007
Quakers Hill-Vineyard Duplication North West Schofields - Vineyard deferred Oct 2008[3]

Quakers Hill - Schofields: October 2011

Revesby Turnback Airport and South December 2008
Sutherland-Cronulla Duplication Eastern Suburbs and Illawarra April 2010



Other projects not officially part of the Rail Clearways program that will also improve the suburban passenger network include:

Cancelled projects include:

  • Redfern to Chatswood line - announced in 2005 cancelled in 2008.
  • CBD Relief Line - announced in 2010 cancelled in 2011 following a change of Government.


External links

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