Monday, 23 June 2014

1979: Opening of the Eastern Suburbs Railway Line

Today is the 35th anniversary of the Official Opening of the Eastern Suburbs Railway Line between Central and Bondi Junction. Four new stations joined the CityRail Network: Martin Place Kings Cross, Edgecliff and Bondi Junction. It was the first rail line in Sydney to have all its stations underground. For the first two years of operation, it was a shuttle service between Central and Bondi Junction. It was connected to the Illawarra Line in 1981 and Redfern also got its underground platforms (11 and 12).

On that day in 1979, it was a Saturday and the Premier Neville Wran had the honours of officially declaring the line open.

Below are two advertisements promoting the opening of the line. For the opening weekend, travel was free. After that a single trip cost between 10 and 30 cents.

Source: Public Transport Commission of New South Wales. 1979. "Be our guests, take a free train ride on the new Eastern Suburbs Railway," The Sun, June 21: 27. 

Source: Public Transport Commission of New South Wales. 1979. "Eastern Suburbs Railway Now Open," The Daily Telegraph, June 25, 32. 

The Sydney Morning Herald and The Daily Telegraph reported (above) on June 25 that about 250 000 people took advantage of the opening weekend and free rides. There were long queues at stations and platforms overflowed with people.

Most Sydney newspapers were happy. The Daily Telegraph in its editorial on June 25 praised its completion and its addition to the existing rail network. With the Second Oil Crisis underway, it also highlighted the dependence on the motor car and the need to rely on it when one could not use their car. The Sun was quite similar in its view on June 25. The rail line actually made providing transport to Sydney's east even cheaper to about $1.5 million per year. If the oil crisis continued, the savings could increase. However, The Sydney Morning Herald in its editorial on June 23 was critical, suggesting the Eastern Suburbs did not need it and should have focused on spending on improving public transport in the outer suburbs.

Originally, the line was to extend south from Bondi Junction through to Waverley (Charing Cross), Randwick, the University of NSW and Kingsford. The line was to be built in four stages: Edgecliff (1973), Bondi Junction (1974), Randwick (1976) and Kingsford (1977).

Source: State Political Roundsman. 1967. "$12 million a mile track: Bondi Junction on Rail Route," The Daily Telegraph, March 1: 7.

Rushcutters Bay was originally set to have a station but was axed in 1969. It was deemed unviable due to the construction of the William Street tunnel and "small population". Woollahra was also to get its own railway station but construction stopped in 1976 as part of cost-cutting but locals also objected to having their own station.

The platforms between Edgecliff and Bondi Junction are a reminder of what could have been.

Source: Cohen, S. B. 1994. Untitled. accessed June 17, 2014, 

By completion in 1979, it was five years behind schedule.


  1. When I was in Sydney this line was my lifeline ... a great pity it wasn't extended further.

  2. Advertising or sticking bill on public transport has become the latest means of promoting a product/ brand or offering different kind of service. It has become a trend to communicate to the people through these means. Advertising in the train has become a standard of business to promote the product as thousands of commuters travel by the train to reach their destination.