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Hurstbridge railway line

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Title: Hurstbridge railway line  
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Subject: Greensborough railway station, Macleod railway station, Alphington railway station, Darebin railway station, Dennis railway station
Collection: Railway Lines in Melbourne, Railway Lines Opened in 1888
Publisher: World Heritage Encyclopedia

Hurstbridge railway line

Hurstbridge railway line, Melbourne
Line details
Commenced 1888
Completed 1912
Length 38 km (23.6 mi)
Stations 23
Tracks Double track to Heidelberg, single track to Rosanna, double track to Greensborough, single track with passing loops beyond.
Used by Metro Trains Melbourne
Service pattern Offpeak: Stops all stations, or Express Jolimont – Clifton Hill. Peak: Express Jolimont – Clifton Hill – Ivanhoe – Heidelberg
Rolling stock Comeng, X'Trapolis
Connections South Morang line
Former connections Inner Circle and Mont Park lines
Railways in Melbourne

The Hurstbridge railway line is a suburban railway in Melbourne, Australia. It shares trackage with the South Morang railway line until Clifton Hill, then heads in a northeast direction through the City of Yarra, City of Darebin, City of Banyule, and the Shire of Nillumbik. Some of the suburbs served by the line include East Melbourne, Collingwood, Fairfield, Heidelberg, Greensborough, Eltham, and Hurstbridge. It has 23 stations in Public Transport Victoria ticketing Zones 1 and 2.


  • Description 1
  • Infrastructure 2
  • History 3
  • Line guide 4
  • References 5
  • External links 6


The Hurstbridge line traverses the rolling hills of Melbourne's north-eastern suburbs, at times cutting across hills and valleys, resulting in a somewhat windy and hilly line. It includes the only three tunnels on the suburban electrified system other than the underground city loop, although none of the three tunnels are particularly long or deep.

The first section from Flinders Street station to Victoria Park was actually built later than the rest of the line, which was originally connected to the rest of the suburban system via the now-closed "Inner Circle" line. There is evidence that the line was originally intended to be connected via this route, but geography and existing suburbs made it a problematic situation. The section uses two tunnels to cut under a low ridge just east of Melbourne, and most of the rest is built on an embankment that carries the line above numerous main roads and suburban side streets.

After Clifton Hill the line roughly parallels the north bank of the Yarra River, cutting across a number of watercourses flowing into the Yarra, and the ridges between them. At Heidelberg is the third tunnel. The line then encounters steeper grades until Eltham, after which it follows the valley of Diamond Creek, with easier grades but a windier route, with some curves having speed limits as low as 40 km/h (25 mph). This line boasts four of the largest bridges on the suburban network—twin bridges over the Merri Creek between Clifton Hill and Westgarth, another on the up side of Darebin, crossing Darebin Creek, and the wooden trestle across the Diamond Creek just on the up side of Eltham. At 195 m in length, this bridge is allegedly the longest wooden trestle bridge with a curve still in use on a revenue railway in the southern hemisphere, and is the only wooden bridge still in use on a revenue railway in Melbourne.

Apart from the first section of the line, it has numerous level crossings, plus a number of crossings between Diamond Creek and Hurstbridge with private driveways (and two with little-used public roads) that feature only Passive Protection (no operating lights or bells). The line also crosses a number of roads using bridges. The area traversed by the line is mostly built-up suburbs in the inner area, thinning out after Greensborough, and much of the outer end of the line is surrounded by patches of bush and paddocks.


The Hurstbridge line is both notable and notorious for having several single-track sections, due to constraints imposed by geography and lack of government investment. These single-track sections create bottlenecks at which trains must often wait for up to 10 minutes for an oncoming train before proceeding.

The single-track sections are:

  • A 1.2-kilometre section between Heidelberg and Rosanna stations, including a bridge over Burgundy Street, Heidelberg, followed by a short single-track tunnel.
  • A 15-kilometre section between Greensborough and Hurstbridge. Both Eltham and Diamond Creek stations have two platforms, which provide places at which trains can pass. This section of unduplicated track includes a timber trestle bridge near Eltham station that has heritage protection. The bridge has a 40 km/h speed limit. Most of this section had earthworks done during the 1970s to allow for a second track, including abutments for bridges. The only places where space for track duplication has not been provided are a cutting on the down side of Montmorency station (though the section under the road bridge crossing the cutting has been widened), the wooden trestle near Eltham station, and a short cutting on the down side of Wattleglen station.

Until early 2013, the Hurstbridge line was the last electrified railway in Melbourne to use a token system of safeworking. The Greensborough to Eltham section was controlled by the miniature electric staff system, and Eltham to Hurstbridge section by the staff and ticket system. If required, the latter section could be divided into two at Diamond Creek, to allow trains to cross at that station. In conjunction with these systems, trains through Greensborough, Eltham and Hurstbridge stations continued to be controlled by some semaphore signals.

In the first few months of 2013, the staff systems and semaphore signals were replaced by electronic three-position coloured light signalling,[1] controlled remotely from Epping. The Greensborough-Diamond Creek section was converted on 3 February 2013, and the Diamond Creek-Hurstbridge section was converted on 22 March 2013.[2]

Intermediate terminating facilities for trains are provided at Victoria Park (normally used only for trains being stabled there), Heidelberg (used by a handful of peak services), Macleod, and Greensborough. Stabling facilities are provided at Victoria Park (accommodating two six-car trains), Macleod (accommodating three six-car trains), Eltham (accommodating three six car trains), and Hurstbridge (accommodating five six-car trains). The stabling siding at Victoria Park is only used between peaks during the day because it does not have security lighting.

Macleod station is the only station on the Hurstbridge line with more than two platforms. A third platform was provided in the 1970s, and is used during peak periods to provide a place at which trains can originate or terminate.

Line speeds are:

  • Flinders Street–Clifton Hill: 55 km/h (34 mph)
  • Clifton Hill–Heidelberg: 80 km/h (50 mph)
  • Heidelberg–Eltham: 75 km/h (47 mph)
  • Eltham–Hurstbridge: 65 km/h (40 mph)


The first section of the Hurstbridge line to open was between Victoria Park (then named Collingwood) and Heidelberg, in May 1888, although there is some evidence that the contractors building the line operated services prior to that. At this time, the line was connected to other lines via a line from Royal Park to Clifton Hill, most of which comprised what was later known as the Inner Circle line. This connection was opened at the same time.

A more direct connection, between Princes Bridge and Victoria Park (as Collingwood was renamed at the same time) was opened in October 1901. In June the following year the line was extended to Eltham, and ten years later (June 1912) to Hurst's Bridge (now Hurstbridge). In 1912 the short Mont Park branch was built branching from Macleod station to serve the Mont Park Asylum.

In the same year as the line reached Hurstbridge, the line between Westgarth and Alphington was duplicated.

In April 1921 automatic signalling was implemented between Princes Bridge and Clifton Hill.

A few months later, the line (from Princes Bridge) was electrified to Heidelberg, followed by electrification to Eltham in April 1923 and Hurstbridge in August 1926.

In September 1926 the then single-track section between Clifton Hill and Westgarth was converted to Lever Locking and Track Control signalling, followed by Alphington to Heidelberg in June 1927.

In June 1949 Ivanhoe to Heidelberg to was duplicated and provided with automatic signalling. The same was done to the Alphington to Ivanhoe section in December 1951.

Duplication continued between Heidelberg and Macleod in December 1958, except for a short section after Heidelberg where the line crosses a bridge then goes through a tunnel. That section also remains single to this day.

On two consecutive days in September 1964 automatic signalling was provided between Westgarth and Fairfield, and Fairfield and Alphington.

Macleod to Greensborough was duplicated and converted to automatic signalling in August or September 1979.

The short section between Clifton Hill and Westgarth crossing the moderately-deep valley of the Merri Creek was duplicated in January 2009. The rarely used centre running line at Clifton Hill was also removed at this time.

As a part of the upgrades undertaken by the operator Metro Trains Melbourne, the Burgundy Street bridge near Heidelberg Railway Station was replaced in June 2010, costing over $1,000,000.

Several stations on the Hurstbridge Line formerly had Goods Yards or sidings. Those at Fairfield, Alphington, Ivanhoe, Heidelberg and Greensborough have been removed completely (although a single track remained at Heidelberg for many years and was used to stable defective trains). The former goods yards at Eltham and Hurstbridge are now used as stabling sidings, having received some modification to the track layout. The siding at Diamond Creek was originally used for goods purposes (according to the 1926 Curves and Grades book) and was retained for use as a crossing loop. A platform was not built on the loop until the mid-late 1990s, requiring trains to "set back" after using the platform in order to cross.

The name of Wattleglen station has often been debated, as the town is in fact named Wattle Glen. Platform signs also read "Wattle Glen," however the station appears on some official railway documents, as well as being gazetted on the State Government VicNames register, as Wattleglen.

Line guide

Fairfield station in the middle suburbs

Bold stations are termini, where some train services terminate; italic stations are staffed; and stations with an asterisk (*) are staffed during morning peak periods.


  1. ^ "Three Position Signalling". Vicsig. Retrieved 2014-09-29. 
  2. ^ "Hurstbridge Line". Vicsig. Retrieved 2014-09-29. 

External links

  • Statistics and detailed schematic map at the VicSig enthusiast website
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