Carlingford train line to close and Parramatta Road rail crossing to be removed
The NSW government has announced that the Carlingford train line will permanently close on Sunday night 5th January 2020. The closure will allow for the construction of the Parramatta Light Rail to Carlingford and the Sydney Metro West maintenance yard at Clyde/Camellia.
Transport for NSW says a new bus service, carrying the route number 535, will instead service Carlingford, Telopea, Dundas, Rydalmere, Camellia/Rosehill and Parramatta’s CBD.
The closure of the rail line means that the Parramatta Road rail crossing at Granville will be removed.
The announcement of the train line closure was carefully managed. The NSW Opposition leader Jodi McKay noted that the government hand-balled the announcement to Transport for NSW. And, local Parramatta Councillor Donna Davis says that the media statement for the rail line closure could not be found online, except on her Facebook page. On social media, some race-goers have asked how, in the future, they can travel to Rosehill Gardens racecourse from the city — currently, people wanting to get to the racecourse simply change trains at Clyde, and then get off at Rosehill.
Despite some of the concerns around the closure of the rail line, I’m almost certain that motorists will be happy that they won’t have to stop for trains to travel across Parramatta Road at Granville.
And, if you’re interested in knowing how to get to Rosehill Gardens on race day, this is the response that a Parramatta Light Rail employee, identified only as “E”, wrote at 12:25pm on Tuesday 15th October 2019 in response to a query on their Facebook page: “The new bus service, ‘535 Carlingford to Parramatta’, will stop at Camellia/Rosehill on Hassall Street which will be approximately an 850 metre walk to Rosehill Station, next to the Rosehill Gardens Racecourse entrance. Racegoers can also catch the M92 to or from the bus stop at James Ruse Drive, opposite the Rosehill Gardens Racecourse which will be a shorter walk to Rosehill Station. During Parramatta Light Rail construction, there will be additional bus services running between Parramatta (Valentine Avenue) and Rosehill on Rosehill Garden Racecourse race days.”
With the Carlingford rail line due to close in January 2020, I thought the announcement presented a good opportunity to look at the dynamic history of the line, and for historical purposes, examine the 2019 infrastructure being used on the rail line.
The New South Wales Government Gazette reported that the ‘Bennett’s Railway Act of 1886' was passed on Tuesday 5th October 1886. This act specifically detailed how John Bennett of Sydney would be responsible for building a private railway from Clyde to the Parramatta River “at a point on the southern side of the said river opposite Old Redbank.”
The NSW Government Gazette recorded that the line from Clyde to the Parramatta River would allow easy recreational access to the river.
In 1893, the Simpson’s Railway Act authorised that a private railway be built from Bennett’s Railway at Rosehill through to Dural. The construction was to been built in sections: Rosehill to Pennant Hills (now known as Carlingford), Pennant Hills to Castle Hill and Castle Hill to Dural. Carlingford train station opened on Monday 20th April 1896.
The line was never built beyond Carlingford. Eventually, the government gained control over ‘Simpson’s Railway’ that travelled from Clyde to Carlingford. They improved the passenger facilities at the platforms and strengthened the bridge over the Parramatta River. The Minister for Public Works Edward O’Sullivan formally opened the line in August 1901, one month after a state election win. A month later Subiaco train station had its name changed to Camellia train station.
Discussion about the closure of the rail line started in 1932 when the Mayor of Ermington and Rydalmere tackled a rumour about the issue.
On the 18th February 1977, the Subiaco suburb name was officially removed from NSW Government records.
Bennett’s Railway was a small branch line that split just before Camellia station. The line eventually became known as the Sandown Line and stopped at three stations: Sandown, Hardies and Goodyear. The line closed in 2002.
Overhead powerlines were constructed on the Carlingford rail line, and electrified trains began serving the line on Sunday 9th August 1959. The Sandown line was electrified on Monday 10th August 1959. Suburban electric trains had been already operating around the broader rail network since December 1926.
With only months to go before the closure of the Carlingford rail line, I spent a few hours on Sunday 20th October 2019 exploring the current state of the line to record the region before the heavy rail stops rolling and the government starts constructing the light rail and Sydney Metro West stabling & maintenance facility at Clyde.