Southern Highlands Line

The Southern Highlands Line is an Intercity rail service operated by NSW TrainLink that services the Macarthur, Southern Highlands and Southern Tablelands regions of New South Wales. First operating in 1869, the service runs from Campbelltown across the Main Southern railway line through to Goulburn, with peak hour services extending the route to Central. The railway service operates alongside a bus route from Picton to Bowral, operating on the route of the Picton – Mittagong loop railway line, and a regional coach service from Bundanoon to Wollongong on the South Coast Line, operating on the corridor of the Unanderra - Moss Vale railway line.

Southern Highlands Line
Mittagong railway station, 2018-09-13.jpg
Service typeIntercity rail
LocaleMacarthur, Southern Highlands and Southern Tablelands, New South Wales
First service19 May 1869 (1869-05-19)
Current operator(s)NSW TrainLink
StartCampbelltown, Central
Distance travelled224 km (139 mi)
Line(s) usedMain South
Rolling stockEndeavour railcar
Track gauge1,435 mm (4 ft 8 12 in) standard gauge
Track owner(s)Sydney Trains, ARTC

One of only two routes on the NSW TrainLink intercity network to run entirely on non-electrified railway lines, the Southern Highlands Line is operated with a rolling stock solely consisting of Endeavour railcars, with most services only using two cars. The service spans 169 kilometers of railway, making it the most extensive route on the NSW TrainLink network apart from the Blue Mountains Line's Bathurst Bullet service. The route also spans 22 stations, making it also the route with the lowest number of stops. An additional 2 stations and 55 kilometers of railway are traversed by Southern Highlands trains at peak hours.


The Main South line opened in stages to Picton in 1863, Moss Vale in 1867 and Goulburn in 1869.[1]

In 1919, a new section of line opened between Picton and Mittagong, with the original section becoming the Picton-Mittagong loop line.[2] Originally a single track line, it was later doubled with the exception of the Picton-Mittagong loop line.


Most services operate between Campbelltown and Moss Vale with a limited number extending to Sydney Central and Goulburn.[3] All services are operated by NSW TrainLink using Endeavour railcars.

Rail replacement bus services operate between Picton and Bowral paralleling the Picton-Mittagong loop line and Bundanoon and Wollongong paralleling the Moss Vale-Unanderra line. A daytime bus service also operates between Moss Vale and Goulburn.[3] Some stations are also served by NSW TrainLink XPT and Xplorer services from Sydney to Canberra, Griffith and Melbourne.[4]

Up until the mid-1990s, most services on the line operated through to Sydney Central. Named trains that operated on the line included the Goulburn Day Train and Southern Highlands Express. In the late 1980s, air-conditioned HUB/RUB carriages were introduced. These would later be joined by Budd and Tulloch carriages and DEB railcars.[5]

In 1994, all were replaced by Endeavour railcars.[6] Most services were altered to operate only as far north as Campbelltown connecting with Sydney Trains electric services to Sydney.

As of 2014-15, the Southern Highlands Line experiences significantly worse peak hour on-time running performance than other suburban and intercity lines.[7]


Southern Highlands Line stations
Name Railway line Serving suburbs/towns Notes
Central Main Suburban Haymarket, Chippendale, Ultimo, Surry Hills Transport hub featuring Sydney Trains, other Intercity trains,
Regional trains, buses and light rail
Glenfield Main South Glenfield Interchange with Sydney Trains
Campbelltown Campbelltown Starting point of most services
Interchange with Sydney Trains and Regional trains
Macarthur Ambarvale, Blair Athol, Glen Alpine Interchange with Sydney Trains
Menangle Park Menangle Park, Gilead
Menangle Menangle
Douglas Park Douglas Park, Wilton
Picton Picton, Maldon Interchange with Picton-Bowral loop line bus
Tahmoor Tahmoor, Couridjah, Buxton, Thirlmere
Bargo Bargo, Yanderra and Pheasants Nest
Yerrinbool Yerrinbool, Colo Vale, Hill Top, Alpine
Mittagong Mittagong, Braemar, Balaclava,
Willow Vale, Welby, Aylmerton
Interchange with Regional trains and Picton-Mittagong loop line bus
Bowral Bowral, Berrima, East Bowral Interchange with Regional trains, Picton-Mittagong loop line bus and Bundanoon - Wollongong Coach
Burradoo Burradoo
Moss Vale Moss Vale, Bong Bong, Robertson,
Sutton Forest, Burrawang
Terminus of most services
Interchange with Regional trains and Bundanoon - Wollongong Coach
Exeter Exeter Also served by Bundanoon - Wollongong Coach
Bundanoon Bundanoon Also served by Regional trains and Bundanoon - Wollongong Coach
Penrose Penrose
Wingello Wingello
Tallong Tallong
Marulan Marulan
Goulburn Goulburn Also served by Regional trains


The following table shows the patronage of each line of the NSW TrainLink Intercity network for the year ending 30 June 2019, based on Opal tap on and tap off data.[8]

2018-19 NSW TrainLink Intercity patronage by line
10 154 000
19 062 000
985 000
10 034 000
1 063 000


  1. ^ Main South Line
  2. ^ Bayley, William A (197x). Picton-Mittagong Loop Line Railway. Bulli: Austrail Publications. ISBN 0-909597-14-6.
  3. ^ a b "Southern Highlands line timetable". Transport for NSW.
  4. ^ "Southern timetable". NSW Trainlink. 7 September 2019.
  5. ^ "Southern Passengers" Railway Digest January 1989 page 21
  6. ^ "New Timetable Sees Demise of Loco-Hauled Services" Railway Digest July 1994
  7. ^ "Service Delivery". Audit Office of New South Wales. Retrieved 26 November 2015.
  8. ^ "Train Patronage - Monthly Figures". Transport for NSW. Retrieved 20 December 2019.

Further readingEdit

  • "Centenary of the Opening of the Southern Line to Picton", Singleton, C.C. Australian Railway Historical Society Bulletin July 1963
  • "Centenary of the Opening of the Southern Line to Mittagong", Singleton, C.C. Australian Railway Historical Society Bulletin March 1967
  • "Centenary of the Opening of the Southern Line to Goulburn", Singleton, C.C. Australian Railway Historical Society Bulletin May 1969
  • Southern Highlands Express Peter Attenborough, Eveleigh Press 2011 ISBN 978 1 87 656854 2

External linksEdit