Monday, 7 December 2015

Central: Sydney's Hallowed Railway Station

Sydney's main railway station is called Central Station and stands opposite Belmore Park on Eddy Avenue on the southern fringe of the city's Central Business District. Opened in 1906 to replace an older, more congested station that once stood between Central and Redfern, it has greeted commuters and train travelers alike for more than a century.

Central Station's grand concourse early on a Sunday morning in February 2015.

Step inside Sydney's Central Station, and you are stepping into one of the world's grandest railway buildings. The arched roof over the station's concourse runs the length of 15 stub-ended platforms that everyday see the arrival and departure of hundreds of interurban, country and interstate trains. A further 10 platforms are accessed by a subway that feed into the underground City Circle and Bondi Junction Lines, and as such Central Station is an important point for passengers to change trains.

The John Whitton Memorial inside Central Station's concourse, 2015.

Standing in the concourse of Central Station is the memorial to John Whitton, the man considered to be the Father of the New South Wales Railways. Sydney Trains has a map of Central Station that is available here. During his reign as Engineer-in-Chief, he oversaw the growth of the railway network in the state from a mere 37 km of track to 3,538 km of rail line. Much of the railway line throughout the state of New South Wales and around Sydney that we travel on today, was a result of this man's incredible foresight.

A 32 class steam locomotive with a special to the NSW Rail Museum at Thirlmere. Sun 1st March 2015.

Central Station on a quiet Sunday morning is a lot easier to navigate and admire the ornate sandstone brickwork and carvings that make this railway station so impressive. Weekends are also the most likely time to stumble upon a steam train simmering at Central's famous platform 1. Arriving early for breakfast before catching our train to the Blue Mountains, I was lucky enough to photograph a 32 class steam locomotive at the head of a steam excursion special to the NSW Railway Museum at Thirlmere.

Sydney Trains' double-decker commuter trains are unique. No other city in Australia has trains like these! March 2015.

Unlike Platforms 5 to 25, platforms 1 to 4 are mainly used for long distance country and interstate trains, and the transcontinental Indian-Pacific which has been pulling out of Central's hallowed Platform 1 since the 23rd February, 1970. As such, you don't have to tap on with your Opal Card (a rechargeable travel card needed to travel aboard any Sydney Trains service) to gain access to the platforms, making it possible to wander platforms 1 to 4 with a camera to capture images of Sydney Trains' fleet of air-conditioned double-deckers. No other city in Australia operates double-deck trains, making Sydney Trains' fleet unique in this part of the world. However, like all visitors to Central Station, I had a train to catch. My wife Denise and I were headed to Katoomba for the day and had to make our way to platform 7.

Central Station by night, taken March 2015.

After spending 3 days riding trains around Greater Sydney to write my book Train Tripping Around Sydney, this is the view we came back to each night; Central Station and its 75 metre tall clock tower bathed in golden light. Staying as a guest at Wyndham's Sydney Suites on the corner of Wentworth Avenue and Goulburn Street made for a convenient location to set off and explore the city. Or take a train to Kiama, Katoomba and the Hawkesbury River, all of which are featured in my book Train Tripping Around Sydney. Packed with interesting facts, figures and funny stories, it is the perfect window-seat accompaniment to exploring Sydney from the window of a train.

Available now through my Books page

See also; Circular Quay: Sydney Harbour's Railway Station

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