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CityRail is the name of the extensive system of urban, suburban and intercity railways based on metropolitan Sydney, the capital city of the State of New South Wales in Australia. Its intercity lines also extend outside of metropolitan Sydney to the Blue Mountains, Southern Highlands[?], Wollongong, the Shoalhaven River[?], the Central Coast, Newcastle and the Hunter Valley[?].

Most of the system is electrified with power supplied by means of overhead wire; however, some isolated sections outside the Sydney metropolitan area are still operated by diesel railcars.

CityRail is owned by the New South Wales State Government and is a "product group of the State Rail Authority of New South Wales[?].

History of CityRail

CityRail's origins go as far back as 1855 when the first railway in New South Wales was opened between Sydney and Parramatta, now a suburb of Sydney but then a major country town. The railway formed the basis of the "New South Wales Government Railways" and was owned by the Government from the outset. Passenger services were operated from the beginning.

The State's railways system quickly expanded from the beginning with lines radiating from Sydney and Newcastle into the interior of the State, 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 railcars powered by petrol were introduced for minor branch lines with low passenger numbers, both in metropolitan Sydney and rural areas.


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 20km south of Sydney. In the same year, the first underground railway was constructed from Central Station to St. James in downtown Sydney. Electric trains that previously terminated at the Central Station continued north, delving underground at the Goulburn Street tunnel portal, stopping at the Museum underground station and then terminating at St. James.

Other lines were quickly electrified soon after. 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 with two downtown stations - Town Hall and Wynyard.

World War Two interrupted programs for further electrification, however, the following extensive electric network was in place in 1948 spanning the suburban area:

  • St. James to Cronulla via Hurstville
  • St. James to East Hills
  • Wynyard to Bankstown via Sydenham
  • Wynyard to Bankstown via Strathfield
  • North Sydney to Hornsby via Strathfield
  • Hornsby - North Sydney - Parramatta
  • Hornsby - North Sydney - Liverpool via Granville
  • Lidcombe Park to Liverpool via Regents Park shuttle service

(More to be added shortly - stay tuned)

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