Railway records guide

The bulk of the State Rail Authority's archival collection was transferred to us in 2000. This Guide provides a brief introduction to the collection and how to access the records.

Finding State Rail Authority records

State Rail 'R' number

Some of the record series are still identified by the State Rail 'R' number. This number will be replaced by a NRS (New South Wales Record Series) number in due course. Record series that are identified with a 'NUA' number have not yet been formally registered.

1. Check the catalogue

Part of the State Rail Authority's archival collection has been described and listed in the catalogue. This information is being regularly updated with series and item level information about the State Rail records. Please be aware this is a lengthy process and will take time to complete.

2. Check the interim lists in the Reading Room

Until the full collection is listed in the catalogue, interim descriptions and item lists for those records not yet listed are available in our Reading Room.

3. Visit the Reading Room

The records themselves are housed at the Western Sydney Records Centre and researchers will need to visit the Western Sydney Reading Room to access them.

Watch the webinars

Railway photographs NRS-17420

An introduction to our rich collection of NSW railway photos, including locomotives, carriages, gate houses, railway refreshment rooms, staff and stations

Railway records guide

A brief introduction to the collection and how to access the records

Personnel records

See the Railway Employees Guide for personnel records such as the railway employee cards.

Plans and photographs

The list below is only a small selection from the records.

Aperture card copies of plans and drawings
This series contains drawings and plans of Diesel and Electric Locomotives, Carriage diagrams and drawings, Tramway drawings, and Station and Depot drawings.
NRS 17420 (photos)
State Rail Photographic Reference Print Collection
This collection consists of reference prints drawn from a variety of sources within State Rail and predecessor organizations. The prints are mounted on a large card with a number and caption. There is a subject index to the prints available at the Reading Room.
Survey Field Books
These are the permanent and trial surveys conducted prior to deciding the route for a rail line and for maintenance purposes. The books record details of the land surveyed. The contents vary from rough pencil sketches to fine detailed ink diagrams.
Historical notes and references
This includes material about the construction of railway lines, associated facilities and information about events in NSW railway history.
R301 or NRS 22653
Permanent Way Plans and Drawings of railway infrastructure
These are plans and drawings of various structures including station buildings, residences, station arrangement diagrams, level crossings, bridges, culverts, and Transport House. The range of formats includes original hand coloured drawings, blueprints, linen and tracing paper drawings.
Our staff are processing these records and they will be listed in the catalogue in series NRS 22653. This project is underway and will take some time to complete.

Access to Rolled Plans

Several series of plans from the State Rail Authority are in the form of rolled plans. This includes the following series of records:

City Railway plans
Mechanical Branch drawings
Contract Plans and Sections
Permanent Way / Way and Works Plans and Drawings of disused lines and equipment
R301 or NRS 22653
Permanent Way Plans and Drawings of railway infrastructure
Tramway and trolley bus drawings
Property Drawings
Survey plans for Eastern Suburbs Railway
Tramways Proclaimed Plans
Miscellaneous maps
Original drawings of elevations of railway buildings and constructions
Proclaimed plans
Signal arrangement drawings
Signal Branch Drawings
Signal Box Diagrams(Consignment 1 only)
Sydney Harbour Bridge rail plans

Most of the rolled plans are subject to some damage because they have been rolled for many years. Our Conservators need to assess rolled plans before they are issued in the reading room. If you are interested in viewing rolled plans please contact us five (5) working days prior to your visit. You will need to provide a list of all the plans you wish to access on the day.

Once our Conservators have assessed the items you will be advised whether they can be issued in the reading room.

If a plan cannot be issued due to its current condition, you can elect to have the plan undergo Conservation treatment. Please note that this can take up to six (6) months. We can provide you with further information about this process once the initial assessment has taken place.

Reading Room (only) Guides

  • Interim lists of records transferred from State Rail ('R' series numbers) are available to view in the Reading Room.
Browse all
Eveleigh workshops 1917

Railway employment records 1856-1917

The index records the name, position, date of appointment and page number within the register. There are 763 entries

Crowds at the entrance to St James Station
On This Day

20 Dec 1926 - Sydney underground railway opened

On 20 December 1926 the first section of underground railway in Sydney began operating

Copy of the first ticket issued on the Sydney to Parramatta line
On This Day

26 Sep 1855 - first railway line opened

On 26 September 1855 the first railway line in NSW was opened. The 22km 'Great Trunk Line' operated from Sydney (Redfern) to Parramatta

digitised personnel card

Archives behind the scenes - State Rail personal history cards

Come and see what an archival storage cell looks like and have a look at the popular railway personal history cards