January 03, 2018

Horse 2361 - Operation Purple Line - The Cumberland Line Extension

The name of the County of Cumberland was bestowed on an indiscriminate plain to the west of the settlement by Governor Phillip on 4th June 1788 and was named after Ernest Augustus, Duke of Cumberland; the fifth son of George III (and who later became the second last King of Hanover before it was absorbed into a united Germany).
As a result, the name Cumberland is thrown about willy-nilly in western Sydney and it is fitting that the Cumberland Line which currently runs from Schofields to Leppington, should also have that name.
As I live in Marayong, which is on the Richmond Line and therefore the Cumberland Line by coincidence, I thought it worthwhile to travel to the other end of the line; to somewhere I had never been before.
The train heads through Blacktown, Parramatta, crosses over the Y-link and through Merrylands and Guildford, through Liverpool until it gets to Glenfield, wherein it makes a hard right over a new viaduct and cuts into fairly open country.

The first indication that you are going to leave suburbia is at Casula, when for no apparent reason at all, the landscape changes from rows and rows of red roofed houses to unorganised bushland. Also, a lot of the stations in this part of the world, are little more than finished concrete over a set of brick walls and with a gantry over the top. Style and panache are non existent except for Liverpool station; which looks as though it should be a grand terminal for something.

Beyond Liverpool, is Glenfield. This photo overlooks an agricultural high school and is an indication of what is to come.

Ever since Harry Beck presented his now iconic map of the London Underground to a thankful public in 1931, the idea has been copied again and again. Most schematic maps bear no relation to what the actual land is like but this section of the Sydney Trains map with the Leppington Branch showed as a hard right angle to the main south line, is actually an apt representation. The train climbs over a short viaduct and really does pull hard to the right.

This is the sort of landscape that this branch goes through. It is mainly rolling hills and plains; with patches of eucalypts still peppering the view. It is this kind of empty country that makes me wonder about this line in two ways:
1. Either the line is many degrees of magnitude of overkill.
2. The line is preparing for future extensions because places like Oran Park and Narellan which used to be little more than four sheds and a dog called Kevin, now have more people than ever before.

I am not a fan of the deliberately nasty styling of these benches. These benches are decidedly unfriendly and are very much hostile architecture. They are meant to be sat on for only a limited period of time; which is fine if you are in Town Hall or Wynyard but when you are in Leppington which is 51 kilometers from Central Station, this is idiotic.
I also do not like the stayed corporate colour scheme which is common across the network. Sure, it is about building a brand but I rather like the idea that because this is on a purple and blue line, that the furniture should also be accented in purple and blue. Then again what do I know? I travel on trains for fun.

Leppington Station like so many modern buildings, stations, apartment blocks etc. is being built to a style which is trendy at the moment. This will pass.
Having said that, it does mean that as you pass through the place, you do get interesting interactions of light and shadow.

For a station which is in the middle of nowhere, Leppington Station is impressively massive. It has four platforms; which are useful for laying up trains and terminating them but apart from that, its bigness is gloriously pointless.
If this was a station in the middle of the city, instead of those Opal Card poles, there would be full on ticket barriers but because there is practically nobody here, they're not required.

From the outside of Leppington Station, it looks like they are expecting crowds of Olympic proportions. This station is equipped to cope with 150,000 people all arriving at once but I doubt if this station would ever see 1% of that in a day. The train that I caught here, literally had 3 people on it who weren't railway staff. If this station ever does see crowds, they'd arrive in the morning after parking their cars and then disappear until the end of the day.
As it was, I wandered around for a bit and then descended back to platform level; wherein I sat on an unfriendly bench for 26 minutes.

Should they have built this line extension? Yes. Should Leppington Station be this pointlessly extravagant? Absolutely.
Unlike say Casula Station which is two river platforms and a gantry, Leppington Station is a destination in itself (although arguably it has to be because there's diddly-squat else put there). A quiet place like this which is massive, positively screams that it has a purpose. It compels you to wander through it; to walk around and to interact with it. It's ace.

More train things to come in future posts.

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