In Transport

Northern Line Commuters Short-Changed On Railway Investment For 70 Years

Victor P Taffa

Some 70 years ago in 1949 Labor closed the Ryde Tram Line and promised to make 4 Tracks on the Strathfield-Hornsby Northern Line.

Eric Hearnshaw was Liberal Member for Ryde from 1945-50. Labor closed the Ryde Tram Line and ahead of the 17 June 1950 State Election promised to build 4 Tracks on the Strathfield-Hornsby Northern Line.

In not trying to be too political, Labor in Government built a new John Whitton Bridge in May 1980 and did not build have a Bridge Deck for 4 Tracks.

This was simply false economy as commuter numbers have increased since May 1980. Considering the cost of having barges to install bridge spans and then lay the tracks and overhead wiring it will simply cost more now than had the Bridge Deck been made for 4 Tracks in 1980.

Strathfield-Hornsby Northern Line handles Freight, Interstate, Interurban and Suburban services.


NSW John Whitton

NSW John Whitton Plaque at Sydney Central Railway Station








John Whitton Engineer-in-Chief of the New South Wales Railways from 1856-90

John Whitton Bridge was named after John Whitton Engineer-in-Chief of the New South Wales Railways from 1856-90.

When John Whitton arrived in Sydney in December 1856 there was only 37 Km of completed railway. Upon retirement in 1890 there was 3,538 Km of completed railway. He is acknowledged as the ‘Father of the NSW Railways’.

John Whitton found in New South Wales 23 miles (37 km) of 4 ft 8½ ins (144 cm) gauge railway, 4 locomotives, 12 passenger carriages and 40 trucks. He reorganized accounting and costing and took charge of the rolling stock, line maintenance and workshop departments.

He resisted Governor Sir William Denison’s proposal to construct 4,000 miles (6,437 km) of light, narrow-gauge tramways to be worked by horses and in the 1860’s was constantly hampered by the government’s uncritical acceptance of the lowest tenders for railway construction.

John Whitton had to resolve a number of issues in order to construct the railways. Governor Sir William Denison supported horse drawn tramways and Whitton argued that only a railway could work the volume of freight envisaged.

John Whitton was a strong supporter of a uniform rail gauge, coal fired locomotives and bridges and rails made of iron. Governments were loathe in spending more than the minimum required and over time Whitton won the day to expand the railways and needless to say he went onto win the arguments.

John Whitton was born in 1819 and died on 20 February 1898.


John Whitton Bridge

John Whitton Bridge carries the Northern Railway Line across the Parramatta River between Rhodes and Meadowbank in Sydney.

First Bridge

First Rail Bridge to span the Parramatta River opened on 17 September 1886 during construction of the Northern Line to Brisbane, Queensland. First Bridge was a lattice truss bridge and designed by Chief Engineer of the New South Wales Government Railways John Whitton.

Second Bridge

Second Bridge built to the western side of the first bridge was part of plans to quadruple the Northern Line. Concrete Piers were completed in 1952 before the project was cancelled.

Work resumed in the 1970’s with a two-track box girder bridge opening in May 1980. Piers were extended to allow for another two tracks in the future. Second Bridge was named in honour of John Whitton. In year 2000 the first bridge was refurbished and opened for bike and pedestrian use.

Concord West Railway Station with Twin Island 4 Platforms

Northern Line Extension to Hurstville includes underground Platforms 9 & 10 at Strathfield











Northern Line Rail Bottleneck

As a commuter on the Northern Line all of his life, Editor Victor P Taffa is not just frustrated but appalled at the lack railway investment over several decades by both Labor and Liberal Governments.

Putting off for another day or election is simply false economy with costs of construction increasing every year.

Northern Line Rail Bottleneck is the two track John Whitton Bridge that has the capacity to carry 4 Tracks and happy commuters.

Some time ago Editor Victor P Taffa spoke with Minister and Member for Ryde Victor Dominello about the road overpass at Meadowbank Railway Station and having 4 Platforms at Meadowbank Railway Station.

Largest piece of Capital Expenditure on the Hornsby-Strathfield Northern Line is to make the deck of the second John Whitton Rail Bridge across the Parramatta River as depicted in the attached photo to be for 4 Tracks.


Parramatta Road North Strathfield Rail Overpass With Decommissioned Track On Left

North Strathfield Freight Tunnel on left. Reinstate fourth track and rebuild railway station as 4 Platform Twin Island closer to Pomeroy Street Overpass and lifts at both ends for commuter convenience












Parramatta Road Rail Overpass

Rail Overpass across Parramatta Road at North Strathfield can easily have up to 6 Tracks across the deck.

Currently a decommissioned Track on the eastern side can be recommissioned.

2 of the Tracks from the Northern Line ends at the North Strathfield Parramatta Road Rail Overpass.

When the Rail Flyover was built in 1927 at Strathfield Junction the additional 2 Tracks were built in order to keep trains running while the Flyover was being constructed.

Tracks that leads in/out of Strathfield Platforms 1 & 3 needs to connect at Parramatta Road Rail Overpass for 4 Tracks on the Northern Line to Hornsby. Cost to do this is minimal.


Strathfield-Hornsby Railway Station Requirements For 4 Tracks

Strathfield Railway Station

Currently at Strathfield there are 8 Platforms.

  • 4 Tracks from Northern Line
  • 6 Tracks from Burwood
  • 6 Tracks from Homebush

While this is 16 Tracks in/out of Strathfield, by having 8 Platforms it allows for trains to move smoothly through Strathfield and less waiting time for commuters.

If Strathfield Railway Station has a downside it is when Western Line Trains comes into Platform 4 and Northern Line Trains comes into Platform 5.

Northern Line Trains have to wait until Western Line trains have departed. There is no room for additional surface Platforms at Strathfield.

North Strathfield Railway Station

Northern Line can continue to operate while North Strathfield is rebuilt as a 4 Platform Twin Island Railway Station that does not affect current works going on to install lifts.

Editor Victor P Taffa would have all 4 Platforms closer to the Pomeroy Street Overpass and lifts at the Pomeroy Street Overpass as well as lifts at the southern end. Patronage increase will pay for lifts installation.

North Strathfield Freight Tunnel was opened on 11 June 2015 by the Federal Government as part of the Northern Sydney Freight Line.

After Freight Tunnel was built the Freight Track was ripped up leaving commuters to battle along. This track should have been rebuilt at the same time and connected by Sets of Points at the Pomeroy Street Overpass and joined with tracks that leads in/out of Strathfield Platforms 1 & 3.

In building a 4 Platform Twin Island Railway Station at Concord West Railway Station, Sets of Points on the northern side of the Pomeroy Street Overpass will connect the 4th Track to Strathfield.

In building 4 Platforms at Concord West, no commuters currently can catch a train from Platform 1.

Concord West is the preceding to North Strathfield Railway Station.

North Strathfield Railway Station has room for 4 Platforms as a Twin Island Railway Station like Concord West.

Concord West Railway Station

Concord West Railway Station has 4 Platforms and a set of points at northern side of Pomeroy Street overpass in North Strathfield.

This can connect a 4th Track to Strathfield and enable commuters to use Platform 1 at the newly rebuilt Railway Station.

Over the years one argument against building 4 Tracks between Strathfield-Hornsby has been that commuter patronage is not high enough to warrant it.

Yet having Federal Government money build 4 Platforms and not enable commuters to use it throws out that argument.

Concord West Railway Station Platform 1

Basically, all Governments have been trying to treat people like fools. Building a 4 Platform Twin Island Railway Station at Concord West yet passengers could not use Platform 1.

All due to Federal Governments ramming its Metro down the throats of State Governments and commuters. This fight has gone on since 2010 with Labor’s Rozelle Metro.

Governments just trying to reinvent the wheel.

Sets of Points were installed between Rhodes and Concord West near the Homebush Bay Drive overpass.

Sets of Points can also be installed on the northern side of the Pomeroy Street overpass at North Strathfield and fourth city bound Track reinstated and connected to Tracks that come in/out Strathfield Platforms 1 & 3.

4 Tracks needs to be constructed all the way between Strathfield and Hornsby.

Rhodes Railway Station

Rhodes Railway Station has 3 Platforms with room for a 4th city bound platform.

Meadowbank Railway Station

Meadowbank Railway Station has 2 Platforms with sandstone cutting leaving room for 4 Platforms.

West Ryde Railway Station

West Ryde Railway Station has 3 Platforms with room for a 4th north bound Platform.

Denistone Railway Station

Denistone Railway Station has 4 Tracks and Platforms.

Eastwood Railway Station

Eastwood Railway Station has 4 Tracks and 4 Platforms

Epping Railway Station

Epping Railway Station has 3 Surface Platforms with room for 1 more Platform with some Platform alterations.

Beecroft Road Epping Overpass has room for 4 tracks to pass safely underneath.

Cheltenham Railway Station

Cheltenham Railway Station has 2 Platforms. However, the rail corridor is wide enough for 4 Tracks and 4 Platforms.

Beecroft Railway Station

Beecroft Railway Station has 2 Platforms with the Island Platform on a bend. However, the rail corridor is wide enough for 4 Tracks and 4 Platforms.

Beecroft Railway Station is currently listed for upgrade however not for 4 Platforms.

Pennant Hills Railway Station

Pennant Hills Railway Station has 2 Platforms and the railway corridor is wide enough for 4 Tracks and 4 Platforms.

Thornleigh Railway Station

Thornleigh Railway Station has 3 Platforms that has a wide island Platform and has room for 4 Tracks and 4 Platforms.

Normanhurst Railway Station

Normanhurst Railway Station has 2 Platforms and the railway corridor is wide enough for 4 Tracks and 4 Platforms.

Hornsby Railway Station

Hornsby Railway Station has 5 Platforms and as Junction Station with the North Shore Line needs a 6th Platform for trains from Berowra.

Hornsby Railway Station needs 6 Platforms as Trains are scheduled to wait too long and commuters have to wait too long especially in peak hour.

Trains at Hornsby comes from 3 directions as it is a major junction station.

North Shore Line will also get busier in commuter numbers and train traffic when Epping-Chatswood Line re-opens and North West Line opens.

Funding Formula:

Freight Trains carry dollar value of freight that can be justified to Treasury to pay for 4 Tracks on the Rail Bridge.

Largest piece of Capital Expenditure on the Hornsby-Strathfield Northern Line is to make the deck of the second John Whitton Rail Bridge for 4 Tracks.

  • Transport Department needs funding equal to that of Health and Education
  • 75% of the Transport Budget should go towards Planning and Construction.
  • 25% of the Transport Budget should go towards Wages.

6 Platforms For Hornsby Railway Station

Currently Hornsby Railway Station has 5 Platforms.

4 Tracks on the Strathfield-Hornsby Northern Line will require 6 Platforms at Hornsby Railway Station.

This would mean that:

  • 2 Tracks comes from Berowra
  • 2 Tracks comes from North Shore Line
  • 4 Tracks comes from Strathfield

5 Platforms at Hornsby with 4 Tracks from Strathfield will simply slow down the line even more than at present.

Some Car Parking would have to be relocated however it is possible to build an extra Platform at Hornsby Railway Station.

While 8 Tracks would be coming in/out of Hornsby by having 6 Platforms it would allow for a better flow of trains through Hornsby Junction.

Commuters would have less waiting time especially in peak hour.

Currently the Strathfield-Hornsby Line is a combination of 2,3 and 4 Tracks and trains have a bottle neck with only 2 Tracks across the Parramatta River.

Little wonder that the rail service that has not improved since steam age days.

All because Strathfield-Hornsby Northern Line does not have 4 Tracks as Labor promised in 1949 (70 Years ago) when they closed the Ryde Tram Line which was Sydney’s second longest Tram Line.

Strathfield-Hornsby Northern Line Track Combinations

Strathfield-Hornsby Northern Line has Track combinations of:

  • 2 Tracks through Meadowbank
  • 3 Tracks through Rhodes
  • 4 Tracks through Eastwood

This combination of 2,3 and 4 Tracks plus the Rail Bottleneck across the Parramatta River is why the service is so slow.

People will try to convince us that it is not slow but this is what 70 years of not building additional Tracks has given every commuter.

Simply put, Train Tracks are to Trains as Car Lanes are to Cars.

Northern Line Extension

In Editor Victor P Taffa’s ISPUT Website the Northern Line Extension has 2 underground Platforms at Strathfield for to/from Hurstville and would be numbered Platforms 9 & 10.

4 Tracks on the Strathfield-Hornsby Northern Line will certainly be needed then.

Northern Line Extension allows for the introduction of a Berowra-Hurstville service.

Meadowbank Railway Station Pedstrian Overpass on Western Side showing rust on structural beams

Meadowbank Railway Station Plague for new Pedestrian Overpass opened on 19 February 2007











Meadowbank Railway Station

John Watkins MLA

  • Worst performing State Member along the line since 1980

On 19 February 2007 Member for Ryde, Minister for Transport and Deputy Premier of New South Wales John Watkins opened at Meadowbank Railway Station in what can only be described as false economy and cheaply priced Pedestrian Overpass and lifts.

By 2017 the Pedestrian Overpass on the western side shows significant and visible signs of rust.

Cheapest price Pedestrian Overpass was installed that should not have shown signs of rust after 10 years. Railway staff said to Editor Victor P Taffa off the record that the pedestrian overpass was installed with the lowest possible price and no rust inhibitor applied to the structural beams.

Clearly the steel beams were not treated by a rust inhibitor before the structure was constructed. Obviously, people who did not have a background in hardware made this decision not to apply rust inhibitor just to save money.

One day in 2017 some people were doing painting on Meadowbank Railway Station. Editor Victor P Taffa asked if they were going to treat the clearly visible rust on the western side beams that supported the Pedestrian Overpass that had been opened on 19 February 2007.

No one could respond except to recommend that a telephone call be made to the Transport Info Line for timetables, complaints, suggestions and other matters.

Telephone call was made to 131 500 by Editor Victor P Taffa on 23 June 2017 with reference no. 351 835 and then again on 11 July 2017 with reference no. 361 244.

Nothing was done about the rust except to log the complaint. No money for rust inhibitor for the beams yet all the money in the world for a railway that is not new and simply seeks to reinvent the wheel.

Meadowbank Railway Station with Rail Communication Tower on what will be Platforms 1 & 2

Meadowbank Railway Station Northern end where Rail Communication Tower can be relocated











Minister for Transport Gladys Berejiklian

In 2014 Minister for Transport Gladys Berejiklian installed Rail Communications Towers along railway lines. This was not a bad decision. However, Minister Berejiklian placed a Rail Communication Tower on what should be Island Platform 1 & 2 at Meadowbank Railway Station. This will have to be moved to a location at the northern end of the station when Meadowbank finally becomes a 4 Platform Station.

On the Western Line at Ashfield the same Rail Communications Tower was placed neatly out of the way.


West Ryde-Epping Northern Line

Bruce Baird MLA

  • Best performing State Member along the line since 1980

In 1985 Editor Victor P Taffa and his family stood on Denistone and West Ryde Railway Stations logging late running trains.

Result of the campaign was for new Minister for Transport Bruce Baird to sign off on 4 Tracks and Platforms in 1988 between West Ryde and Epping.


Meadowbank Railway Station and Road Overpass can be widened for Traffic and Lifts to Platforms

Meadowbank Railway Station Road Overpass that can be widened for Traffic and lifts to 4 Platforms












Name and Shame File

Name and Shame File in Lack of Action on Strathfield-Hornsby Line and 4 Tracks for second John Whitton Bridge across Parramatta River between Rhodes and Meadowbank since 1980.

Premiers, Ministers for Transport and State Members of Parliament along Strathfield-Hornsby Line since second John Whitton Bridge opened in 1980:

Premier of New South Wales

Premier                                  Party                           Term Of Office

Gladys Berejiklian                   Liberal                         23 Jan. 2017-Present

Mike Baird                              Liberal                         17 April 2014-23 Jan. 2017

Barry O’Farrell                        Liberal                         28 March 2011-17 April 2014

Kristina Keneally                    Labor                           4 Dec. 2009-28 March 2011

Nathan Rees                            Labor                           5 Sept. 2008-4 Dec. 2009

Morris Iemma                         Labor                           3 Aug. 2005-5 Sept. 2008

Bob Carr                                 Labor                           4 April 1995-3 Aug. 2005

John Fahey                              Liberal                         24 June 1992-4 April 1995

Nick Greiner                           Liberal                         25 March 1988-24 June 1992

Barrie Unsworth                     Labor                           4 July 1986-25 March 1988

Neville Wran                           Labor                           14 May 1976-4 July 1986

Minister for Transport and Infrastructure

Andrew Constance                 Liberal                         2 April 2015-Present

Minister for Transport

Gladys Berejiklian                   Liberal                         4 April 2011-1 April 2015

John Robertson                       Labor                           21 May 2010-28 March 2011

Minister for Transport and Roads

David Campbell                      Labor                           8 December 2009-20 May 2010

Minister for Transport

David Campbell                      Labor                           8 September 2008-14 September 2009

Minister for Transport

John Watkins                          Labor                           21 January 2005-8 September 2008

Minister for Transport Services

Michael Costa                         Labor                           2 April 2003-21 January 2005

Minister for Transport

Carl Scully                              Labor                           1 December 1997-2 April 2003

Brian Langton                         Labor                           4 April 1995-1 December 1997

Bruce Baird                             Liberal                         25 March 1988-4 April 1995

Terry Sheahan                         Labor                           26 November 1987-21 March 1988

Ron Mulock                            Labor                           6 February 1986-26 November 1987

Barrie Unsworth                     Labor                           5 April 1984-6 February 1986

Peter Cox                                Labor                           14 May 1976-5 April 1984

State Members of Parliament Along Strathfield-Hornsby Northern Line since 1980.

Electoral Redistributions have changed or abolished seats since 1980.

New South Wales Legislative Assembly adopted single member constituencies in 1927. When a district has been recreated the New South Wales Electoral Commission refers to each new period as an Incarnation.

Districts listed in order of sequence from Strathfield-Hornsby.

Burwood District (Covering Strathfield) created in 1894

Burwood District was first created in 1894 with abolition of multi-member districts from part of Canterbury and named after Sydney suburb of Burwood. With introduction of proportional representation, it was absorbed into multi-member electorate of Ryde. Burwood was recreated in 1927 and abolished in 1988 to be partly replaced by Strathfield.

  • Second Incarnation 1927-1988 (1 Member Elected)
  • First Incarnation 1894-1920 (1 Member Elected)

Member                                  Party                           Term Of Office

Paul Zammit                           Liberal                         1984-88

Phil O’Neill                             Labor                           1978-84

Strathfield District created in 1988

Member                                  Party                           Term Of Office

Jodi McKay                            Labor                           2015-Present

Charles Casuscelli                   Liberal                         2011-2015

Virginia Judge                        Labor                           2003-2011

Paul Whelan                            Labor                           1999-2003

Bruce MacCarthy                    Liberal                         1996-1999

Paul Zammit                           Liberal                         1988-1996

Drummoyne District (Covering Concord West and Rhodes) created in 1913

Drummoyne District was created in 1913. With introduction of proportional representation, it was absorbed into the multi-member electorate of Ryde and recreated in 1927.

  • Second Incarnation 1927-Present (1 Member)
  • First Incarnation 1913-1920 (1 Member)

Member                                  Party                           Term Of Office

John Sidoti                              Liberal                         2011-Present

Angela D’Amore                    Independent                2010-2011

Angela D’Amore                    Labor                           2003-2010

John Murray                            Labor                           1982-2003

Michael Maher                        Labor                           1973-1982

Yaralla District (Covering Concord and Rhodes) created in 1968

Member                                  Party                           Term Of Office

Garry McIlwaine                     Labor                           1978-1981

Lerryn Mutton                        Liberal                         1968-1978

Ryde District created in 1894

  • Sixth Incarnation 1999-Present (1 Member)
  • Fifth Incarnation 1981-1991 (1 Member)
  • Fourth Incarnation 1927-1968 (1 Member)
  • Third Incarnation 1920-1927 (5 Members Elected as Multi Member Constituency)
  • Second Incarnation 1913-1920 (1 Member Elected)
  • First Incarnation 1894-1904 (1 Member Elected)

Member                                  Party                           Term Of Office

Victor Dominello                    Liberal                         2008-Present

John Watkins                          Labor                           1999-2008

Michael Photios                      Liberal                         1988-1991

Garry McIlwaine                     Labor                           1981-1988

Eastwood District created in 1927

  • Second Incarnation 1950-1999 (1 Member)
  • First Incarnation 1927-1930 (1 Member)

Member                                  Party                           Term Of Office

Andrew Tink                           Liberal                         1988-1999

Jim Clough                              Liberal                         1965-1988

Epping District created in 1999

Member                                  Party                           Term Of Office

Damien Tudehope                  Liberal                         2015-Present

Greg Smith                              Liberal                         2007-2015

Andrew Tink                           Liberal                         1999-2007

Northcott District (Covering Pennant Hills) created in 1968

District named after Sir John Northcott who served as Governor of New South Wales from 1 August 1946-1 August 1957.

Member                                  Party                           Term Of Office

Barry O’Farrell                        Liberal                         1995-1999

Bruce Baird                             Liberal                         1984-1995

Jim Cameron                           Call to Australia          1983-1984

Jim Cameron                           Liberal                         1968-1983

Hornsby District created in 1927

  • Second Incarnation 1999-Present (1 Member)
  • First Incarnation 1927-1991 (1 Member)

Member                                  Party                           Term Of Office

Matt Kean                               Liberal                         2011-Present

Judy Hopwood                       Liberal                         2002-2011

Stephen O’Doherty                 Liberal                         1999-2002

Neil Pickard                            Liberal                         1973-1991

Strathfield-Hornsby rail commuters deserves better than this name and shame file of politicians over several decades who have ignored the needs of the travelling public.

Meadowbank Railway Station showing rail cutting for 4 Platforms and 4 Tracks

Meadowbank Railway Station southern end Sandstone Rail Cutting which can be cut back to allow 4 Tracks











Attached Photo And Caption As Taken By Me:

Second John Whitton Rail Bridge and Abutment opened in 1980 between Rhodes and Meadowbank across the Parramatta River on Northern Line with Piers for 4 Tracks and Spans for 2 Tracks which is a rail bottleneck for Freight, Interstate, Interurban and Suburban services and commuters.


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