kids encyclopedia robot

Airport, Inner West & South Line facts for kids

Kids Encyclopedia Facts
T2 Airport, Inner West & South Line
T2 Sydney logo.png
New South Wales A set on platform 1 at Campbelltown Station.jpg
A Sydney Trains A set at Campbelltown.
Service type Commuter rail service
Status Operational
Locale Sydney, New South Wales
  • Airport & East Hills (2000–13)
  • Inner West (1999–2013)
  • South (1999–2013)
First service 20 October 2013
Current operator(s) Sydney Trains
Annual ridership
  • Airport 7.0 million (2014)
  • East Hills 16.6 million (2014)
  • Inner West 20.5 million (2014)
  • South 16.0 million (2014)
Website Sydney Trains
Start City Circle
Stops 58
End Campbelltown, Leppington, Homebush, Macarthur and Revesby
Distance travelled 107 km
Average journey time 69 minutes
Line used
On-board services
Disabled access Yes
Rolling stock S, K, C, M and A sets
Track gauge Standard gauge
Electrification Overhead 1500V DC
Track owner(s) RailCorp
Timetable number(s) T2

The T2 Airport, Inner West & South Line is a suburban rail line in Sydney, the largest city in the Australian state of New South Wales. T2 is one of the eight lines of the Sydney Trains network. Introduced in 2013, T2 primarily serves the inner west and south-western regions of the city via the City Circle.

From Circular Quay the line branches south via the Airport Link and then rejoins with the Main Suburban line at Turrella. From this point the line heads south-west via the East Hills line to Glenfield, and then south via the Main South line to terminate at Macarthur. A branch line at Glenfield Junction via the South West Rail Link terminates at Leppington. From Macarthur in the south-west, the line heads generally north-northeast via the Main South line to Merrylands before rejoining with the Main Suburban line between Granville and Redfern, before rejoining with the City Circle at Central. Some off-peak services bypass the Airport Link and from Central stopping at Redfern and Sydenham on the parallel Illawarra Line.

The line is shown in green on maps and timetables. Passengers took 60.1 million journeys on T2 services in 2014.


There were three predecessors of the T2 line, the Airport & East Hills Line (Macarthur - City via Sydney Airport or Sydenham), the Inner West Line (Liverpool or Bankstown - City via Regents Park) and the South Line (Campbelltown - City via Granville). The Airport & East Hills Line was through-routed with the South Line and the Inner West Line formed a loop with the Bankstown Line.

Airport & East Hills and South Lines

Passenger train services from Sydney to Campbelltown via Strathfield have been operating since 1858. This train service is known as South Line, taking its name from the Main South line on which it travels on. It was colour-coded green till the early 2000s, when it was colour-coded light blue until the creation of T2 in 2013.

The South Line has always through-routed with the East Hills line at the City Circle since the late 20th century. First opened in 1931, the East Hills Line terminated at East Hills. In 1985, the line was duplicated through to East Hills and on 21 December 1987 extended to Glenfield to connect with the Main South line, allowing through services to and from Campbelltown. The opening of the extension allowed for another City–Campbelltown service in addition to the South Line. A new station was provided at Holsworthy, and East Hills station was rebuilt with the addition of a third platform. When services commenced, there were only limited services from Campbelltown via East Hills during peak hours only; however, in 1988 an all day half-hourly service was provided. Local (all stations) services generally ran every 15 minutes from East Hills.

The colour coding of the line also changed from orange to the green, which will later be adopted as the colour-coding of T2. In 2000, East Hills Line services were redirected via the new Airport Link tunnel, with peak hour services still running along the Illawarra Line. The name of the passenger service was renamed Airport & East Hill Line and it remained till the creation of T2.

Airport former line

Airport Link Ticket1
An Airport Link Ticket
Map of the Airport Line and other lines in the Inner City.

The Airport Link includes a 4-kilometre-long (2.5 mi) rock tunnel and a 6-kilometre-long (3.7 mi) soft ground tunnel.

For most of its length, the line is in tunnel. The Airport Link runs south from platform 23 at Central station across a viaduct to the tunnel portal beneath Prince Alfred Park near Chalmers Street. The tunnel roughly follows George Street underneath the suburbs of Redfern and Waterloo. At Green Square station, beneath the intersection of Botany Road, Bourke Road and O'Riordan Street, the line continues beneath Bourke Road to Mascot station, a block south of Gardeners Road.

From Mascot, the line roughly follows O'Riordan Street before turning sharply to the west once underneath Kingsford Smith Airport. The line runs westward under the Domestic terminal and the International terminal before continuing north-west underneath the Cooks River to reach the surface at Wolli Creek. At Wolli Creek, the Airport Link joins the East Hills line. The line is two tracks for its entire length.

The two new stations which were built for the airport's International and Domestic Terminals, feature larger lifts and wider ticket barriers to cater for passengers with baggage. Three new suburban stations were built – one each for the residential development areas of Mascot and Green Square, and an interchange station with the Illawarra Line at Wolli Creek station.

Wolli Creek2
The underground platforms for Wolli Creek station, constructed for the Airport Link in 2000

Faced with the significant costs of building Olympic venues, the Fahey Liberal NSW Government sought to reduce the costs of the new railway by entering into a public private partnership to build the line. Under the deal, a private company, Airport Link, would cover the costs of building four of the stations. In return they would operate those stations for 30 years and have the right to impose a surcharge on fares for their use. The company's involvement was predicated on passenger estimates and train reliability guarantees that later proved to be optimistic. The NSW Government would fund (and own) the railway itself and Wolli Creek station.

Construction on the Airport Rail Link (or the New Southern Railway, as it is officially called) began in 1995 with a view to improving facilities for air travellers ahead of the 2000 Summer Olympics in Sydney. At the time, the main public transport link between the city and its airport was two express bus services, the route 300 & route 350 "Airport Express" bus.

A tunnel boring machine was used for the construction. Manufactured by the German firm, Herrenknecht, it arrived in Australia in October 1996. While the use of a tunnel boring machine relieved the need for large numbers of workers at increased pressure, a caisson system is formed at the cutting head. Workers entering this space for inspection, maintenance and repair had to be trained. Medical direction was utilized for planning compression and decompression, assessment of fitness to dive, training of workers and lock operators, health monitoring of workers and treatment of related injuries. This project was the first time oxygen decompression tables were used for caisson work in Australia. The incidence of decompression illness was 1 case in every 286 pressurizations (0.35%) and this problem affected 5.9% of the workers.

The line opened on 21 May 2000, three months ahead of the 200 Summer Olympics, after the NSW Government had spent around A$700 million on the project and the Airport Link Company over A$200 million. In conjunction with the construction of the new line, the section of the East Hills line between Wolli Creek Junction and Kingsgrove was quadruplified. Once this was opened, the running patterns of the trains on the lines changed. The "flying junctions" interchange near Central Station was altered to give the Airport Line its own platforms (21 & 23) at Central. Local (all stations) trains generally were timetabled to run from East Hills via the airport, peak hour express trains from Campbelltown station run along the original route via Sydenham, taking the express tracks between Kingsgrove and Wolli Creek Junction.


From the beginning, a major criticism of the line was that it is not served by dedicated rolling stock, as has occurred elsewhere such as in the Hong Kong MTR's dedicated Airport Express line. Travellers entering the line at Domestic and International must compete for space with commuters from the East Hills line, and find that the trains have no special provision for their luggage.

Despite the cancellation of the rival Airport Express bus service, taxi surcharges and expensive airport parking, the Airport Link consistently failed to meet patronage targets. Less than a year after the line opened, the State Rail Authority stated that "patronage has been lower than expected to date", but they remained optimistic, believing "that as airport users become more familiar with this facility and the ingrained habits of many years gradually alter, patronage will continue to increase," In 2000, the Airport Link Company went into receivership, exposing the government to costs of around $800 million; it was put up for sale in early 2006. State Rail blamed "lower than expected patronage" and stated it was working with the company to increase it.

In October 2005, the Government and the company signed a revised agreement on revenue and patronage, settling the latter's claims against the former. The Government paid $34 million to the company, with another $73 million due as CityRail earns revenue from Airport Line business.

Together with the Cross City Tunnel, the Airport Link served to dampen government and business enthusiasm for further public private partnerships in transport in New South Wales.

The line was subsequently purchased by Westpac and in 2011 it was reported that the line made a profit of A$5.8 million in 2009; and A$9.3 million in 2010. In March 2011 it was announced that the NSW Government would cover the cost of the station access fee at Green Square and Mascot stations, meaning that passengers no longer need to pay a surcharge to access these stations. A fee remains in place for Domestic and International stations. Patronage on the link had been growing at 20% per year, but between March and June 2011 patronage increased by 70% as a result of the reduced fares.

East Hills former line

State Rail East Hills Line timetable from 1987, prior to the Glenfield extension. Prior to the opening of the Holsworthy and Airport extensions, the line was marketed simply as the "East Hills Line".
CityRail Airport & East Hills Line 2006 Timetable
Timetable (2006)

The East Hills line runs along the alignment of the Illawarra line between the City Circle and Tempe station – this route is used during peak hour by express services. From Wolli Creek, the line heads west towards East Hills, where the alignment is within 2 kilometres (1.2 mi) of the since-constructed M5 Motorway between Wolli Creek and East Hills. It then turns south-west through the new suburbs of Voyager Point and Wattle Grove to meet the main south line at Glenfield Junction, where services proceed to Campbelltown and Macarthur. The line is four tracks between Wolli Creek junction and just past Kingsgrove station, then two tracks to Glenfield junction, Campbelltown and Macarthur, except for several stations with three platforms at Revesby, East Hills, Glenfield, Campbelltown and Macarthur. The line parallels the Southern Sydney Freight Line between Macarthur and Ingleburn stations.


The New South Wales Public Works Committee approved of construction of a railway from Tempe to East Hills in August 1924. A ceremony at Padstow Park commemorating the turning of the first sod by the then-Premier of New South Wales Jack Lang was held in September 1927. Construction commenced in April 1928 with the employment of 400 workers. Station names were announced in November 1929. They were largely the same as those used today with the exception of Dumbleton (present-day Beverly Hills) and Herne Bay (present-day Riverwood).

The first section of the East Hills line was opened on 21 September 1931 as an electrified double track line from Wolli Creek Junction (between the present-day Tempe and Wolli Creek stations) to Kingsgrove station. The second section, a single-track non-electrified extension to East Hills with a passing loop at Riverwood (Herne Bay) station, was opened on 19 December 1931 by the then-Minister for Local Government James McGirr in a ceremony at East Hills. Services on this section were by CPH railmotor, supplemented by through steam trains from Central in peak hours. The single line between Kingsgrove and East Hills was opened for electric services on 17 December 1939.

The line was duplicated between Kingsgrove and Riverwood in 1948, with points for terminating trains provided at both stations, and a passing loop at Revesby was opened in 1956. Services generally ran all stations from East Hills via Tempe and Sydenham, to the City Circle. Occasional services terminated at Riverwood, Kingsgrove and Padstow. Most trains use to stop at Erskineville and St Peters, but now they are only served by the Bankstown line.

Inner West Line

Earlier timetables had integrated the Inner West service pattern with the Bankstown railway line, coloured brown in maps. The Inner West and Bankstown lines were later colour-coded lavender, until the Bankstown line was given its own identity with an orange colour-coding in the early 2000s. The Inner West Line kept the lavender colour-coding. However, Inner West and Bankstown services still remained operationally integrated.

Creation of T2

Following the 2011 state election, the O'Farrell Government embarked on reform of transport in New South Wales, creating a new organisation, Transport for NSW, in November of that year. The organisation developed a new rail timetable and branding, which was put into effect on 20 October 2013. This saw the grouping together of the Airport & East Hills Line, the Inner West Line and the South Line. A new numbering system was also introduced and the line was given the number T2.

The new timetable was designed to integrate the projects of the Rail Clearways Program, a 2004 plan to divide the network's fourteen metropolitan rail lines into five independent "clearways" by installing extra tracks, passing loops, turnouts and turnbacks at pinch points around the network. By 2013, the Rail Clearways Program was substantially complete, allowing the timetable to be rewritten. At the same time, the delivery of 78 new Waratah trains was almost complete as well. A substantial change introduced by the new timetable was the abolition of Bankstown loop services and most Liverpool via Regents Park services. These changes were made possible by Rail Clearways projects to construct new turnbacks at Homebush and Lidcombe. This allowed the operation of the Inner West and Bankstown lines to be separated, freeing up capacity between Lidcombe and Homebush for use by other services. However, the changes attracted criticism due to the increased number of interchanges and increase in travel time for passengers for all stations between Carramar/Berala and Birrong.

The New South Wales Government's 2012 policy document, Sydney's Rail Future, forecast that then-current infrastructure and operating patterns would cause "passenger displacement" – trains too full to accept more passengers – on the Airport & East Hills Line by 2031. The strategy foreshadowed major timetable changes for the Inner West and south-west, including more frequent and consistent service patterns on the Inner West Line, and doubling of service frequencies through the Airport Link tunnel.

Released in September 2013, the new timetable featured:

  • an additional 94 services per week on the Airport & East Hills Line
  • an additional 30 services per week on the South Line, with reduced journey times for some trains
  • reduced journey times between Macarthur and the CBD
  • an increase in Airport Link frequency to eight trains per hour for most of the day
  • consistent 15-minute frequency for the Inner West Line
  • later services to and from Newtown, a popular nightspot, on Friday and Saturday nights.

An early draft of the new timetable leaked in May 2013, five months before its start date. Though the draft attracted some criticism, the Sydney Morning Herald concluded that "inner west commuters will generally be better off.

The timetable was generally praised by the Western Sydney Business Chamber and the Tourism & Transport Forum.

Extension to Leppington

The line was extended to Leppington on 13 December 2015, replacing a temporary shuttle service to Liverpool. On 27 February 2017 the New South Wales Government announced that "by late 2017" all T2 services operating via Granville would start and end at Leppington Station, along with T5 Cumberland Line services. This means the section between Glenfield and Macarthur will be served exclusively by services operating via Revesby. These via Revesby services will increase from eight to ten trains per hour during peak periods.

Images for kids