top of page
Anchor 1
WC 225.jpg

Central station, Brisbane, 1910. Photo: State Library of Queensland, Wikimedia Commons

WC 226.jpg

Central Railway Station Brisbane, Queensland, 1901. Photo: John Oxley Library, Wikimedia Commons

Central Station, Brisbane

David Matheson

 5 October 2023

Brisbane’s Central station is the busiest railway station in Queensland. Over 55,000 passengers pass through it each weekday. The station dates back to 1889 and it has undergone significant changes in its history.



Central station was opened in 1889 with the opening of the short extension from Roma Street. Train services commenced operating on 18 August. The facilities were inspected by Chief Commissioner for Railways, John Mathieson, and Chief Engineer for Railways (Southern and Central Division), Henry Charles Stanley, the night before services began, and all was found to be in working order. Upon opening the station was constructed of timber and corrugated iron. It had two platforms with a vaulted roof over them. On 1 November 1890 Central became a through station when the line was opened from Central to Mayne Junction, connecting it directly with the northern suburbs. Two dock platforms were later added on the Ann Street (south-east) side of the original station.


The opening of Central station came 24 years after the first railway in Queensland, between Ipswich and Bigges Camp (now Grandchester) in 1865, and 14 years after the first Brisbane terminus, later named Roma Street, in 1875. Part of the reason that Central station was not built earlier was its location. It is situated between two tunnels, one between Central and Roma Street stations on the railway extending to the south, and the other between Central and Fortitude Valley stations on the railway extending to the north. The site of Central station itself has been cut from the side of the hill, making further expansion difficult.



Construction of a larger and more permanent building commenced in 1899. The new station was taken over by the Queensland Railways from the contractors on 26 July 1901 and was one of Brisbane’s grandest buildings. It was built in Victorian architectural style with extensive detailing. A clock tower was included, which was designed by John James Clark. A high arch iron roof extended over part of all platforms. The total cost of the new station was £49,277. Today the façade of this building, including the clock tower, has been retained, facing Ann Street, and is heritage-listed.


During 1907–08 an additional two platforms were added outside the roof, and in 1910–11 the dock platforms were converted into through platforms. An additional storey was added to the main building in in 1913–14 but this was outside the roofed platform area.


Central station settled into its role as an integral part of Brisbane’s transport needs. Advances in technology saw the trains that arrive at the station change and evolve. There were no further major modifications to the station itself until the roof over platforms 1 to 4 was demolished in 1966. It had deteriorated since it was erected and was replaced by modern butterfly-type steel-framed awnings.



During the 1970s there was substantial redevelopment of Brisbane Central station. The entrance building on Ann Street that had been built in 1901 was demolished, although the façade was retained. Part of the development included a 15-storey building, the Railway Centre, which was built above the station. Completion of this building in 1975 enabled the 850 Queensland Railways administrative staff based in Brisbane to be located in the same building for the first time. Another office tower, a plaza and shopping centre were subsequently constructed next to the Railway Centre. Further work was completed in 1982, including restoring the Ann Street façade to its original condition and restoring the clock and mechanism in the clock tower. In June 1996 two additional tracks were opened between Roma Street and Bowen Hills, which included the construction of additional tunnels between Roma Street and Central, and between Central and Brunswick Street (now Fortitude Valley).


Central station is being upgraded as an ongoing long-term project. The first stage of the project was completed in April 2017, including refurbishment of offices, cleaning, repairs and maintenance. Further work will include the replacement of lifts and escalators, platform upgrading work and replacement of overhead line equipment.


Today Central station remains a busy station serving Brisbane’s central business district. Its six platforms see regular trains servicing South East Queensland’s Citytrain network.



‘Additional city tunnels and tracks commissioned’, Railway Digest, vol. 34, no. 7, July 1996, p. 17.

‘Central railway station’, Queensland Heritage Register, <>.

‘Central station’, The Telegraph, 19 August 1889, p. 5.

‘Central Station Upgrade’, Queensland Rail, <>.

Knowles, JW, ‘Roofed stations in Queensland’, The Australian Railway Historical Society Bulletin, no. 324, October 1964, pp. 184–9.

Knowles, J, ‘The suburban railways of Brisbane’, The Australian Railway Historical Society Bulletin, no. 316, February 1964, pp. 21–34.

McKillop, R, Australian railway heritage guide, Australian Railway Historical Society, New South Wales Division, Sydney, 2010.

‘“New look” for Brisbane Central station’, Railways of Australia Network, vol. 2, no. 31, December 1966, p. 2.

‘New Rail Centre’, Railways of Australia Network, vol. 11, no. 128, January 1975, p. 4.

Queensland Rail, Annual and Financial Report 2017–18, Queensland Rail, Brisbane, 2018.

Queensland Railways, Report of the Commissioner for Railways for the year ended 30th June 1901, Government Printer, Brisbane, 1901.

WC 227.jpg

Steam passenger train at the platform, Central station, Brisbane, 1 January 1911. Photo: State Library of Queensland, Wikimedia Commons


Central railway station, Brisbane, 15 July 2020.

bottom of page