Sunday, 13 October 2019

The Carlingford Line

If you live in Sydney, you have probably seen the T6 Carlingford Line on Sydney Trains maps. 

You've most likely not had a reason to use the line. There are around 1474 passenger journeys on the line daily. These figures come from Sydney Trains annual numbers for the year and was then divided by 365 for days in the year.

The line was never supported by the colonial government of the time but they were happy to have private enterprise have a go. Have a go they did and the line opened in April 1896. 

It didn't last long. It didn't even see out the end of the year.

The government paid about 1/3 of the total construction cost spent by investors - they got it at a comparable bargain.

The line was reopened on 1st August, 1901. There was lots of cheering and speeches and state and federal members arguing over which level of government should be in charge of the railways. After all of this banter, (or maybe before) all were driven to Dobinson's Hall for a banquet provided by Mrs Lockwood. This was reported in the Sydney Morning Herald of 2nd August, 1901.

Something interesting about the article - the newspaper claimed that the line had never been opened.

It wasn't just the Carlingford Line, the Sandown line came with it. If you travelled on trains in the 90s, you might remember seeing the line on Cityrail maps. It disappeared in 2002.

In the modern age of Sydney Trains, the Carlingford Line is an anomaly. Trains are only four cars long. Some T5 trains between Leppington and Bankstown or Schofields are four car Millennium trains but others are the full 8 car trains.  And four car trains are used on the T7 Olympic Park Line as well. However, on the Carlingford Line, the platforms are only four cars long - except the racecourse platform at Rosehill, which can hold two 8 car trains.

Trains run at half hour intervals during weekdays but every 45 minutes on weekends.

I don't have a huge history with the line. I once proposed a layout based on Carlingford Station. (I built a layout based on the end of the line but added a goods yard to provide operating interest - but that's another story.)

My history began last year, in April 2018. I was taking part in the Sydney Train Race Challenge - the idea is that you have to be on trains that stop at every station in the fastest time.

I arrived at Clyde on an evening commuter train from Lidcombe. It was a cold April evening and I joined a number of commuters rushing from Platform 5 to Platform 1 for the Carlingford train.

The resting S-set seemed happy to wait for all of its passengers before it trundled across a congested Parramatta Road between the anxious cars which were shining their headlights to illuminate the delay to their urgent journeys.

To me the scene was a modern day version one of those old English branch lines that you read about - the ones where the express stops, people clamber out of one train and into the smaller and probably older train for the last and slow leg of their journey.

Here are a couple of images from that first encounter.

It wasn't the last time I rode the line but there won't be too many more. The line is scheduled to close on 5th January, 2020 to be converted into light rail as part of the Parramatta Light Rail network.

I took a trip on the line in the first week of October to film it. I figured that someone should. The S-sets are gone but the K-sets aren't too different.

If you've stuck with me this far, click on the link to the video. I hope you enjoy it.

Until next time.

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