02 May 23

Access all areas – Central Walk brings clarity to the commute

John Prentice, Principal and transport leader at Woods Bagot, in Central Walk, Central Station Sydney.

Central Walk, a key element of the $955 million renewal of Sydney’s Central Station, is now open – transforming the passenger journey through the heart of Australia’s largest rail hub.

Designed by Woods Bagot, Central Walk brings light and clarity to the passenger experience, a single broad concourse with easy connections to suburban and regional rail platforms, the light rail and Sydney Metro, due to complete in 2024.

It replaces a maze of commuter tunnels that made navigation challenging and crowded during peak travel periods, providing a clean east-west connection including escalator and lift access to suburban platforms 16-23.

“This was always a challenging part of the Central Station project, a very important connection to the Metro and rest of the station,” says John Prentice, Principal and transport leader at Woods Bagot.

“It’s the first time the suburban lines have had this level of connection, clarity of movement and orientation for passengers.”

For customer orientation, bringing daylight into the space through skylights and the lift apertures was important, while consistent sandstone materiality is integral to the design.

Prentice says the design team clad the interior of Central Walk with moulded Glass Reinforced Concrete (GRC) panels to echo the sandstone used in the original station buildings, completed in 1906.

Central Station

Original sandstone used in the station buildings.

Central Walk detail

Natural light from the skylights and the lift apertures.

Central station GRC detail

Moulded Glass Reinforced Concrete (GRC) throughout Central Station.

“That design element really connects this new work to the Sydney sandstone that was used for the main Central Station building and clocktower,” says Prentice.

They also work from a wayfinding and place perspective. “It creates a rhythm as you move through the space or up to the platforms.”

As with all work on the Sydney Metro Central Station project, there were challenges building new infrastructure in a live rail environment while maintaining operations.

“It’s not like you can shut down these rail lines for extended periods of time. You can’t under-estimate the planning, engineering, construction, sequencing and design that goes into making projects like this happen,” says Prentice.

“To get such a singular approach to the design is a tribute to the team and what we’ve been able to achieve.”

Woods Bagot has been on the project site since 2017. Its work so far includes a spectacular upgrade to the Northern Concourse in collaboration with John McAslan + Partners featuring a landmark roof canopy.

The focus for lead contractor Laing O’Rourke is now on delivering the new Sydney Metro, the metro concourse, a new entrance on Chalmers St, completing the refurbishment of existing platforms and putting the finishing touches to the project. 


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Martin Kelly
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