|North Coast Line|
|Owner|| New South Wales Government Railways (1905-15)|
Department of Railways (1915-72)
Public Transport Commission (1972-80)
State Rail Authority (1980-2003)
Transport Asset Holding Entity (2020-present)
|Locale||Mid North Coast and Northern Rivers regions of New South Wales|
|Termini|| Maitland |
Brisbane Roma Street
|Opened||6 November 1905|
|Line length||795 km (494 mi)|
|Track gauge||1,435 mm (4 ft 8 1⁄2 in) standard gauge|
The North Coast Line is the primary rail route in the Mid North Coast and Northern Rivers regions of New South Wales, Australia, and forms a major part of the Sydney–Brisbane rail corridor.
The line begins at Maitland and ends at Roma Street railway station in Brisbane, although freight services terminate at the yard at Acacia Ridge on the outskirts of Brisbane. Along the way, the railway passes through the towns of Dungog, Gloucester, Wingham, Taree, Kendall, Wauchope, Kempsey, Macksville, Nambucca Heads, Urunga, Sawtell, Coffs Harbour, Grafton, Casino and Kyogle. After the standard gauge line ends at Acacia Ridge, it forms a dual gauge line into Brisbane, running alongside parts of the Beenleigh railway line.
Since the Main Northern Line was closed north of Armidale in 1988, the North Coast line is now the only route between Sydney and Queensland. With the closure of former branches to Dorrigo (1972) and Murwillumbah (2004) there are no operating branches off the line.
The Bonalbo branch from Casino was stillborn, with partial construction left incomplete.
At the NSW/Queensland border is a long tunnel called Border Tunnel. Immediately south of it was Border Loop, a short crossing loop, which is now closed. About one kilometre south of that is the Cougal Spiral. These two locations are often confused.
The line is owned by RailCorp but leased to the Australian Rail Track Corporation until 2064.
The first North Coast railway was opened between Murwillumbah, Byron Bay and Lismore in 1894 and extended to Casino in 1903 and Grafton in 1905. A branch line was built to Kyogle in 1910 and extended to South Brisbane in 1930.
The line was built between 1905 and 1932, and when completed, bypassed the Main North line and provided a quicker route up the eastern seaboard. The development of the line was hampered by the many large rivers that flow through the North Coast. The line also features the Cougal Spiral, which is one of only two spirals in New South Wales.
A railway was built from Maitland to Paterson and Dungog in 1911. It was extended to Gloucester and Taree in 1913 and Wauchope, Kempsey, Coffs Harbour, Glenreagh and South Grafton (now Grafton station) in 1915.
The Clarence River was the most difficult river to cross and it was not crossed until 1932.In the meantime services were connected by rail ferry that carried the carriages across the river. The opening of the Grafton Bridge in 1932 completed the Sydney – Brisbane line as the first standard gauge inter-capital link.
The completion of the Sydney–Brisbane link saw the Casino–Murwillumbah line become a branch line.In 1930 a branch line had been added to Ballina but this closed in 1949. The Murwillumbah branch closed in 2004.
A picturesque branch was opened from Glenreagh to Dorrigo in 1924, but was difficult to maintain due to the steep terrain and high rainfall and it was closed in 1972 after a washaway.The Glenreagh to Ulong section is proposed for reopening as a heritage tourist railway by the Glenreagh Mountain Railway. The Dorrigo Steam Railway & Museum is also being set up in Dorrigo as a museum and working exhibit.
NSW TrainLink operates three daily XPT services from Sydney terminating at Grafton, Casino and Brisbane.
The premier trains on the North Coast line were the two daily services to Brisbane, the Brisbane Limited and the Brisbane Express. The Limited was the fastest service, stopping only at major stations, while the Express operated as a sweeper service stopping at most stations north of Grafton and provided connections to services on the Murwillumbah branch.Air-conditioned Sleeping cars had operated on the Brisbane Limited from 1960. In April 1973 the Brisbane Express was withdrawn and replaced by the Gold Coast Motorail , operating to Murwillumbah. The North Coast Daylight Express and North Coast Mail operated to Grafton until they were both replaced in 1985 by a single Holiday Coast XPT train. Following the Booz Allen Hamilton review of 1989 which recommended severe rationalisation of country rail services, the Brisbane and Murwillumbah services were converted to XPT operation in February 1990, and a locomotive hauled Grafton Express service to Grafton introduced in June 1990. In November 1993 the Grafton Express was also converted to XPT operation.
When the Main North Line was closed north of Armidale in 1988, super-freighters to Brisbane began using the North Coast Line, operated by the State Rail Authority, then National Rail. Today, freight services on the North Coast Line are operated by Pacific National and SCT Logistics. These superfreighters do not serve any of the towns they pass through - in the government railways era, there would be regular freight services to towns such as Kempsey, Grafton and Casino.
The only freight train that regularly services the North Coast Line is a cement and sugar train for Grafton, Operated by Pacific National.
The North Coast Line has significant curvature, equivalent to turning through 150 circles – 75.5 to the right and 74.5 to the left heading north, the difference of one circle due to the Cougal Spiral in the Border Ranges. Of course the curves are unevenly distributed meaning that maximum speeds change hundreds of times usually within the range of 60 km/hr and 115 km/hr for freight trains.
The Australian Rail Track Corporation has recently resleepered the track with concrete sleepers, upgraded the signals and installed new loops to increase efficiency. In mid-2011 they eased about 58 sections of curves on the line, increasing line speed for the XPT and freight trains. The curve easing was done without land purchases, so the track changes would be minor, staying within the existing corridor.
This is a list of all the locations and crossing loops on the North Coast line.
|Location||km from Sydney||Signal Prefix|
|Border Loop (or Cougal Spiral)||875.1|
|Dutton Park Junction||DP|
CountryLink was an Australian passenger rail and road service brand operating in regional New South Wales, Canberra, Brisbane and Melbourne. Originally created as a business unit of the State Rail Authority of New South Wales, it later became a subsidiary of RailCorp, a Government of New South Wales entity. CountryLink operated rail services using XPT and Xplorer rolling stock, with connecting coach services operated under contract by private operators.
Dungog railway station is located on the North Coast line in New South Wales, Australia. It serves the town of Dungog opening on 14 August 1911. Originally built with only one face, in 1944 the platform was converted to an island platform and the present station building constructed.
Fassifern railway station is located on the Main Northern line in New South Wales, Australia. It serves the City of Lake Macquarie suburb of Fassifern, opening in 1888.
The Main Southern Railway is a major railway in New South Wales, Australia. It runs from Sydney to Albury, near the Victorian border. The line passes through the Southern Highlands, Southern Tablelands, South West Slopes and Riverina regions.
The Mungindi railway line is a railway line in northern New South Wales, Australia. It branches from the Main North line at Werris Creek station and heads north-west through the towns of Gunnedah and Narrabri before reaching Moree which for many years was the railhead before the extension to Mungindi was constructed. The line is currently truncated to Weemelah between Moree and Mungindi. Passenger trains still operate to Moree, and goods trains operate to Camurra. As of 1 September 2009, services have been suspended between Camurra and Weemelah. The line between Werris Creek and Moree is also known as the North-West line.
The Murwillumbah railway line is a mostly disused railway line in far north-eastern Northern Rivers New South Wales, Australia. The line ran from Casino to Lismore, Byron Bay, Mullumbimby and Murwillumbah, opening in 1894. It is one of only two branches off the North Coast line,. Train services to the region ceased in May 2004. The line from Casino to Bentley and Murwillumbah to Crabbes Creek was formally closed on 23 September 2020 to facilitate the construction of a rail trail.
The Dorrigo railway line is a closed railway line in the north of New South Wales, Australia. It branches from the North Coast line at Glenreagh.
The New South Wales XPT is the main long-distance passenger train operated by NSW TrainLink on regional railway services in New South Wales, Australia from Sydney to Dubbo, Grafton and Casino as well as interstate destinations, Brisbane, and Melbourne. The XPT is based on the British Rail designed High Speed Train and entered service in April 1982.
The Sydney–Brisbane railway corridor is a 1,008.25 kilometres (626.50 mi) long standard gauge railway corridor that connects the state capitals of Brisbane and Sydney in Australia.
Coffs Harbour railway station is located on the North Coast line in New South Wales, Australia. It serves the city of Coffs Harbour, opening on 30 August 1915.
Kempsey railway station is located on the North Coast line in New South Wales, Australia. It serves the town of Kempsey, opening on 3 December 1917 when the line was extended from Wauchope. It was the terminus of the line until it was extended to Macksville on 1 July 1919.
Casino railway station is a heritage-listed railway station on the North Coast line in New South Wales, Australia. Opening on 22 September 1930, it serves the town of Casino in the Richmond Valley Shire. It was added to the New South Wales State Heritage Register on 2 April 1999.
Grafton railway station is a railway station on the North Coast line in South Grafton, Clarence Valley Council, New South Wales, Australia. It serves the city of Grafton, opening on 12 October 1915 as South Grafton when the line opened from Glenreagh. It was renamed Grafton City on 1 October 1976 when the original Grafton station north of the Clarence River closed. Since 2005, it has again been known as Grafton Station.
Byron Bay railway station is a former railway station located on the Murwillumbah line in Byron Bay, New South Wales, Australia. It opened on 15 May 1894 and closed on 16 May 2004, when the line from Casino was closed. The station complex was built from 1894 to 1913. The property was added to the New South Wales State Heritage Register on 2 April 1999.
The Murwillumbah railway station is a heritage-listed former terminus railway station located on the Murwillumbah line in South Murwillumbah, in the Tweed Shire local government area of New South Wales, Australia. The former railway station is also known as the Murwillumbah Railway Station and yard group. The station opened on 24 December 1894 and closed on 16 May 2004 when the line from Casino was closed. The station was added to the New South Wales State Heritage Register on 2 April 1999.
Gloucester railway station is located on the North Coast line in New South Wales, Australia. It serves the town of Gloucester, opening on 5 February 1913 when the line was extended from Dungog to Taree.
Wauchope railway station is located on the North Coast line, in New South Wales, Australia. It serves the town of Wauchope, opening on 12 April 1915 when the line was extended from Taree. It was the terminus of the line until it was extended to Kempsey on 3 December 1917. The present station building was erected in 1990.
Eungai railway station is located on the North Coast line in New South Wales, Australia. It serves the town of Eungai, opening on 1 July 1919 when the line was extended from Kempsey to Macksville. Opposite the station lies a passing loop. It was extended to 1.5 kilometres in January 1996.
Macksville railway station is a heritage-listed railway station located on the North Coast line in Macksville, Nambucca Shire, New South Wales, Australia. The station serves the town of Macksville, and opened on 1 July 1919 when the line was extended from Kempsey. The station is also known as Macksville Railway Station group. The property was added to the New South Wales State Heritage Register on 2 April 1999.
Mullumbimby railway station was a station on the Murwillumbah line opening on 15 May 1894. It closed on 16 May 2004 when the line from Casino was closed.