CityRail is an operating brand of RailCorp, a state-owned corporation of the Government of New South Wales, Australia.

CityRail is responsible for providing commuter rail services, and some coach services, in and around Sydney, Newcastle and Wollongong, the three largest cities of New South Wales. The majority of the CityRail system is electrified with 1500 V DC supplied by overhead wire and are operated by double-deck multiple units. Some isolated sections outside the Sydney metropolitan area are operated by single-deck diesel railcars. The network is incorporated in the New South Wales MyZone ticketing system.

Construction of the rail network began 3 July 1850. Today it consists of 307 stations and over 2,060 km (1,280 mi) of track, extending to the upper Hunter Valley, south to the Shoalhaven area and reaching as far west as Lithgow. An average of 1 million trips are made from these metropolitan, intercity and regional stations each day.

CityRail was established pursuant to the Transport Administration Act, 1988 (NSW) and works with its sister group, CountryLink, which operates rail and coach services in regional New South Wales.

More recently, it has been announced that CityRail will be replaced with Sydney Trains as of July 2013.



In 2009 CityRail ran ten types of rolling stock, in two categories: electric multiple units (EMUs) for suburban and interurban working, and diesel multiple units (DMUs) for interurban and regional lines running through less populated areas. All CityRail electric trains use 1500 V DC overhead electrification and travel on 1435 mm standard gauge tracks. All electric rolling stock has been double deck since the early 1970s. approximately

The CityRail network is divided into three sectors, based around three maintenance depots. EMU trainsets are identified by target plates, which are exhibited on the front lower nearside of driving carriages.[4] Target designations and set numbers are used in identifying EMU trainsets. The composition and formations of trainsets, and the target designations are subject to alteration. The target designation originally identified the depot at which a trainset was based, e.g. "M" for Mortdale, "F" for Flemington, "H" for Hornsby and "B" for Punchbowl (on the Bankstown line). However, the introduction of a variety of EMU types led to the target designation's use as a means of identifying the type of trainset, more like a vehicle or locomotive number. Hence, "M" is now used for the Millennium trainsets.

All double deck InterUrban (DDIU or V set) EMU trains, which operate on the Blue Mountains, Newcastle and Central Coast, and South Coast lines, are serviced at Flemington Depot, and all M set and H set trains, which have a green target plate, are serviced at Eveleigh Maintenance Centre near Redfern station.

New TrainsEdit

There are two types of trains currently being delivered to CityRail. These are the OSCARS – a hybrid intercity / interurban train, and the Waratah suburban train.


CityRail's current ticketing system is called the Automated Fare Collection System. Dating from 1992, is based on magnetic stripe technology and is interoperable with the government's buses and ferries. It is expected to be replaced by the contactless Opal smartcard system in 2013. The transition was expected to take place by 2012, but has not.

Unlike the ticketing systems of other cities in Australia, most of CityRail's ticket prices are calculated on the distance travelled and are inexpensive by world standards.

Entry to privately owned train stations at Sydney Airport requires a Station Access Fee in addition to the train fare. This station access fee does not apply for Green square and Mascot.


According to the 2003 'Parry report', "The interaction of metropolitan, suburban, intercity and freight lines and services has resulted in an overly complex system." This complexity has contributed in part to the organisation being widely criticised for poor reliability and safety. CityRail is also enormously expensive. RailCorp requires a government subsidy of close to $1.8 billion a year, approximately 5% of the state budget and more than three times what it collects in fares. "There is an overwhelming sense," the report concluded, "that CityRail does not promote a real commitment to quality, customer focus and a service culture."

On-time running has improved since new timetables were introduced in 2005 and 2006. The newly introduced timetable increase the station dwelling time and increase the amount of time a train is expected to arrive at the destination. In April 2008, 99.6% of all services ran, and 92.6% of these services arrived within five minutes of their scheduled arrival time. However a 2007 report by Hong Kong's Mass Transit Railway Corporation found that Sydney's train system reliability levels lagged behind international benchmarks.


CityRail operates eleven suburban lines, four intercity services, one regional service, and four connecting bus services, plus a late night bus service across metropolitan Sydney (knon as NightRide).

Suburban NetworkEdit

Line colour and name Between
CityRailgreen Airport and East Hills line City Circle and Macarthur via either Sydenham (peak) or Wolli Creek.
CityRailorange Bankstown line City Circle and Liverpool or Lidcombe, via Bankstown.
CityRaildarkblue Carlingford line Clyde and Carlingford.
CityRailmagenta Cumberland line Blacktown and Campbelltown.
CityRail blue Eastern Suburbs & Illawarra line Bondi Junction and Waterfall or Cronulla.
CityRailpurple Inner West line City Circle and Lidcombe or Liverpool, via Strathfield.
CityRailred Northern line Epping and Hornsby via Strathfield, the City and Macquarie Park.
CityRailyellow North Shore line Central and Berowra via Chatswood.
CityRailolympicpark Olympic Park line Lidcombe and Olympic Park. Some services operate between Central and Olympic Park, particularly during special events.
CityRaillightblue South line City Circle and Campbelltown, via Granville.
CityRailyellow Western line Central and Emu Plains or Richmond.

:*In peak hour on the North Shore line, some outer-suburban services run to Gosford and Wyong, and some Western Line services extend to Springwood.
:*Inbound Inner West and South services generally travel around the City Circle in the clockwise direction. Inbound Airport and East Hills and Bankstown services generally travel around the City Circle in the anti-clockwise direction.

Intercity NetworkEdit

Line colour and name Between
Bluemountainsline Blue Mountains line Central and Lithgow.
Newcastleline Newcastle and Central Coast line Central and Newcastle.
SouthCoastline South Coast line Central and Bomaderry (Nowra) or Port Kembla.
Southernhighlandsline Southern Highlands line Campbelltown and Moss Vale, with less frequent services to Goulburn.

Regional lineEdit

Line colour and name Between
Hunterline Hunter line Newcastle and Telarah, with less frequent services to Dungog or Scone

Connecting bus servicesEdit

CityRail operates several bus routes along corridors where the railway line has been closed to passengers or as a supplement to rail services. These bus services appear in CityRail timetables and accept CityRail tickets, but they are operated by private-sector bus companies contracted by CityRail.

Line colour and name Between
NSWTrainLinkbusyellow Blue Mountains line Lithgow to Bathurst via Mt Lambie
NSWTrainLinkbusred Newcastle and Central Coast line Fassifern to Toronto via Blackalls Park
NSWTrainLinkbusblue South Coast line Bundanoon/Bowral to Wollongong via Robertson
NSWTrainLinkbusgreen Southern Highlands line Bowral to Picton via Thirlmere on weekdays only


The CityRail network is a hybrid of three different types of passenger railway: metro-style underground; suburban commuter rail and interurban. Most intercity trains terminate at Central whereas most suburban (except Carlingford line) services will proceed through the City Circle which is a loop of metro-style underground stations which receives a higher frequency of services although these services will still run according to a timetable much like the rest of the Cityrail network. Inner suburban areas will receive a higher frequency of services than outer suburban areas as some designated services will terminate at allocated stations midway through the line to cope with the higher urban density of inner-city suburbs. There is evidence this hybrid arrangement was deliberate. The design of the early electric carriages was developed as a combination of the high-capacity, low-boarding time of the New York Subways trains and the existing English long carriage design that was established in Australia's long-haul steam train system.[13] Those design principles have carried over to successive rolling stock. CityRail also operates several interurban services that terminate at Central Station (though some services operate in the metro-style portions of the system in the peak hours). These lines stretch over 160 km (99 mi) from Sydney, as far north as Newcastle, as far west as Lithgow, as far south-west as Goulburn and as far south as Kiama and Port Kembla. Southern Highlands trains require a connection at Campbelltown as they run into the city during peak hours only. Regional services operate from the terminus station at Newcastle, with local electric services to the Central Coast and diesel services to Maitland. After Maitland, the DMUs travel either to Scone or Dungog, but most terminate at Maitland or Telarah. Another regional service operates as part of the South Coast Line, with DMUs between Kiama and Bomaderry-Nowra. The hub of the CityRail system is Central Station, where most lines start and end. Trains coming from the Airport and East Hills Line and Bankstown Line, after travelling anticlockwise on the City Circle sometimes terminate upon arrival at Central and proceed to the Macdonaldtown Turnback. However, most trains continue on and become respective outward bound Inner West trains and South Line trains. The reverse applies for trains coming from the Inner West and South Lines, which, if not terminating, become outward bound trains on the Airport and East Hills Line and Bankstown Line respectively. In the same manner, all trains from the Western Line or Northern Line become North Shore line trains once they reach Central and vice-versa. As well as the intercity services mentioned above, local services also run in the Newcastle local area during off-peak times, as part of the Newcastle & Central Coast Line. Local services also run on the South Coast Line in the Wollongong local area, usually between Thirroul and Port Kembla.

Passenger Information SystemEdit

Some CityRail stations are well equipped with electronic passenger destination indicator boards. These provide information on the current time, next three available services, time due to arrival, destination route and the number of train carriages available. Systems at Central station also produce a visual alert to passengers of train doors about to close during peak hour. Due to the many differing types of stations that CityRail serves, their screens vary in form. In station where trains arrive at a higher frequency, 2 or more vertical LED screens are used on each platform to display the destination and arrival time whereas in low frequency areas 1 or 2 dual horizontal LED screens with a larger font is used. Manual destination indicator boards are still used in some lower patron stations but Cityrail staff will need to be present on the station to change the boards if necessary. In regional areas, a station may only rely on digital voice announcement for information on services. CBSM (Custom Built Sheet Metal) was responsible for the manufacture of many indicator board encasings.


CityRail's origins go as far back as 1855 when the first public railway in New South Wales opened between Sydney and Granville, now a suburb of Sydney but then a major agricultural centre. The railway formed the basis of the New South Wales railways and was owned by the government. Passenger and freight services were operated from the beginning. The State's railway system quickly expanded from the outset with lines radiating from Sydney and Newcastle into the interior of New South Wales, with frequent passenger railway services in the suburban areas of Sydney and Newcastle along with less frequent passenger trains into the rural areas and interstate. All services were powered by steam locomotives, though in the 1920s petrol railcars were introduced for minor branch lines with low passenger numbers, both in metropolitan Sydney and rural areas.

The CityRail system as it exists today is to some extent the result of the vision and foresight of John Bradfield, one of Australia's most respected and famous civil engineers. He was involved in the design and construction of Sydney's underground railways in the 1920s and 1930s, but he is more famous for the associated design and construction of Sydney's greatest icon, the Sydney Harbour Bridge.


New South Wales uses an overhead electrification system at 1 500 volts direct current. Whilst inferior to and more expensive than modern single phase alternating current equipment, it was in vogue during the 1920s and is generally sufficient for the operation of electric multiple unit trains. However, the introduction of powerful electric locomotives in the 1950s, followed by the Millennium Train in 2002, revealed drawbacks in this antiquated system of electrification. As the voltage is relatively low, high currents are required to supply a given amount of power, which necessitates the use of very heavy duty cabling and substation equipment. Until the retirement of electric locomotives from freight service, it was often necessary to observe a "power margin" to ensure that substations were not overloaded. This situation was similar to that which applied to The Milwaukee Road's 3 000 VDC electrification. Plans to electrify the Hunter Valley at 25 kV alternating current were abandoned in the 1990s. With private freight operation favouring diesel haulage, it is unlikely that the electrification will extend beyond its present outer-metropolitan limits in the foreseeable future.

Electrification came to Sydney's suburbs in 1926 with the first suburban electric service running between Sydney's Central Station and the suburb of Oatley approximately 20 km (12 mi) south of Sydney. In the same year, the first underground railway was constructed from Central Station to St James in Sydney's CBD . Electric trains that had previously terminated at the Central Station continued north, diving underground at the Goulburn Street tunnel portal, stopping at Museum underground station and then terminating at St James. Other lines were soon electrified. Also, in conjunction with the construction of the Sydney Harbour Bridge which opened in 1932, an additional underground line in downtown Sydney was constructed, connecting the North Shore line with Central Station via two downtown stations, Town Hall and Wynyard.

World War II interrupted programmes for further electrification, but an extensive electric network was in place in 1948.