Platforms 26 & 27, Central Station – Sydney, NSW

Sunday Mirror, 17 May 1959.

The story of Sydney’s Eastern Suburbs railway is a long one, and we won’t be going down that tunnel today. Instead, we’ll be going down this one.

The escalator to platforms 24 & 25, Central Station, 2012.

The reason this set of escalators down to the Eastern Suburbs and Illawarra line trains at Central Station is so long is because it’s actually going down two levels, not one. When the Eastern Suburbs platforms were being built throughout the 1960s and 1970s, construction crews made concessions for four extra platforms, not just the two that exist today. 26 & 27 lie above 24 & 25.

The doors leading to platforms 26 & 27, Central Station, 2012.

The plan was that platforms 24 and 25 would service the Illawarra and the Eastern Suburbs lines, and above them, platforms 26 & 27 would someday cater to an airport line. The platforms were built, but the planned airport line never materialised, and since 1979 the platforms have sat derelict. In fact, even when an airport line was built in the leadup to the Olympics in 2000, the platforms weren’t used – the reason being that modern trains were too heavy for the loadbearing capabilities of the platforms. Many photos exist online of these platforms, but since 26 & 27 are not accessible to the general public (with terrorism fears cited as the reason, because terrorists want to blow up empty train platforms), they won’t be appearing here. What’s interesting is the evidence of the platforms’ existence that is readily available, such as this:

Control panel in the lift for platforms 24 & 25, Central Station, 2012.

But shhh! Don’t tell anyone, it’s a secret!

ANNUAL UPDATE: One year doesn’t seem to have made a difference to the future of these dead platforms.

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5 responses

  1. I always wondered where those platforms (which I’d heard of many times) were and what that door was for. Two mysteries brought together at last!

  2. Fascinating. I’d never heard of this before.

  3. Fascinating blog, Michael.

    There are a few other interesting half finished bits of infrastructure associated with the Eastern Suburbs Railway (ESR).

    When the two new underground ESR platforms were built at Redfern (platforms 11 and 12), provision was also made for another two platforms (13 and 14). However, they have never seen a train and remain half built to this day. Some good pics are at the following locations:
    http://www.railpage.org.au/trainman/tunnels.htm
    http://railgallery.wongm.com/nsw-stations/unfinished-sydney/

    There is also a half finished open air station at Woollahra, never completed due to residential opposition. See:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Woollahra_railway_station

    I’d love to know the source of the comment about Central Platforms 26 and 27 being too light to support modern trains. No offence, but it doesn’t sound right to me.

    The main reason they weren’t used when the Airport Line was eventually built was that (rightly or wrongly) Cityrail wanted to integrate the operation of the Airport Line into the rest of network, and didn’t want Airport Link trains terminating at Central. Trains using platforms 26 & 27 would have needed to terminate at Central, rather than run into the CBD proper via the City Circle, as they currently do. This is because the tunnels at the end of these platforms only extend for a few metres, and extending tunnels northward towards Town Hall/Wynyard etc would have been a m-a-s-s-i-v-e-l-y expensive exercise for which funds weren’t available at the time.

    Nonetheless , the need for more rail capacity through the middle of city is well recognized, so it’s far from impossible that a use might be found for 26/27 sometime in the future, as part of a new line extending into the CBD.

    Cheers, Jamie.

    1. If there’s ever a dodgy, half-baked explanation for a deficiency in Sydney’s rail network, there’s a good chance it came from CityRail itself (or whatever they’re calling themselves these days).

  4. Thank you Michael.
    You inspired me to write this and I hope you receive it well.
    Matt Jackson

    Title: Destinies

    “The reason this set of escalators…is so long is because it’s actually going down two levels, not one.” – Michael Wayne

    Stepping down from street level
    I glance at their screens
    to see that it will be
    three minutes before
    my train arrives

    After allowing a man
    chasing his destiny to
    brush past me I step onto
    the escalator and stop.

    Descending two floors I ponder on
    the fact that only one can carry
    the weight of people’s destinies

    I watch him hurry and it occurs
    to me that despite he and I sharing
    the same escalator his chosen gate
    takes him further away from me

    I notice the breath, hiss and rumble of my future arriving as I reach the end of the escalator and then choose to accept it

    I step off the escalator and onto my train then turn in time to see him brush past an elderly lady so that he can wait impatiently in front of everyone else.

    @affectorsmatt

    Quote and photo: https://pastlivesofthenearfuture.com/2012/03/21/platforms-26-27-central-station-sydney-nsw/

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