The Sandringham railway line is a suburban railway line in Melbourne, Australia. It branches from other southeastern suburban rail lines (inferred as the "Caulfield group") at South Yarra station. It serves the City of Bayside, and small sections cover the Cities of Glen Eira, Port Phillip, Stonnington, and Yarra. Various sections of the track opened between 1857 and 1859, and in May 1919, the whole line was electrified.
The line is double track throughout, although it runs alongside the Frankston, Pakenham and Cranbourne lines from Flinders Street to South Yarra, making a total of six tracks in this section. There are three platforms at Brighton Beach making it the only station to have three platforms on the Sandringham line (although the third platform is not in use).
The speed limit is 70 km/h (43 mph) between South Yarra and Sandringham, and the line has a total of 11 level crossings between South Yarra and Sandringham. Much of the line, however, is either in cuttings or on embankments, and there are many more bridges over or under roads. Terminating facilities are provided at Elsternwick and Brighton Beach, however passenger services may terminate at Middle Brighton to use turnback facilities at Brighton Beach in an event of a disruption. Stabling facilities are provided at Brighton Beach and Sandringham. Brighton Beach had not been used for stabling for many years, however the stabling facilities were reinstated in 2010 after being used for the VICERS project.
Services and patronage
The Sandringham line runs at 7-8 minute frequencies in the weekday morning peak period and in the evening peak period. Off-peak frequencies run every 15 minutes between 9am-3pm and 6.30pm-9pm and every 10 minutes between 3-5pm. After 9pm and all day on weekends, trains run every 20 minutes up until last service. This does not include Sunday mornings when trains run every 40 minutes until 9.30am. All services stop at all stations, with some weekday morning citybound services originating at Middle Brighton. There was one citybound service in the afternoon peak running express from Elsternwick to South Yarra but this was converted to an all-stations service effective January 2016. Services run direct to and from Flinders Street on weekdays and for night network services. Except for night network services, services run anticlockwise through the City Loop on weekends.
It is the only line in Melbourne to operate on a 20-minute frequency at night, and does so seven days a week. This compares to 30-minute frequencies on all other lines. It was also the first to provide a 15-minute frequency between weekday peak periods. These frequencies are not due to it having greater use, but from an experiment in 1992 in increasing frequencies to see if that attracts additional patronage, this being possible on the Sandringham line without using extra trains by reducing layover time at the ends of the journeys.
Frequencies, this time in peak periods, were further improved a few years later, as compensation for withdrawal of the Sandringham services from the City Loop. The Cain Labor government in the 1980s proposed rebuilding the line as a light rail line, but since then patronage has grown considerably and even with the 7-8-minute peak-period frequency, trains are heavily loaded.
Between late June to August 2016, a temporary timetable adjustment was made with an additional peak hour service operating in both the morning and afternoon peaks. This adjustment was made to meet the additional patronage flowing from the Frankston line, due to its 37-day rail shutdown for rail crossing removal works.
In early January 2018, a temporary timetable adjustment saw peak services operate every 6 minutes and every 10 minutes during the inter-peak, shoulder evening peak period and on weekends during the day. This adjustment was made to cater for the Frankston line shutdown between Flinders Street and Moorabbin in preparation for High Capacity Metro Trains, with express buses running between Brighton Beach and Moorabbin to connect to Frankston line trains for stations beyond Moorabbin.  Additionally, these timetable adjustments were implemented again several times throughout the year (primarily on weekends) and for a week in early January 2019.
The Melbourne and Suburban Railway Company opened their line from Princes Bridge (later amalgamated with Flinders Street station) to a temporary station on in February 1859, then to Cremorne (now closed) in December of that year.
A few days later, the St Kilda and Brighton Railway Company (St. K. & B. R. C.) opened their railway line from St Kilda to Bay Street (now North Brighton) in December 1859. Twelve months after that, the Melbourne and Suburban Railway Company extended their line from Cremorne to Chapel Street (now Windsor) station, on the St. K. & B. R. C.'s line, providing a second route to the city from the Brighton line. The following year, again in December, the St. K. & B. R. C. extended their line to Beach (now Brighton Beach).
In 1865, the Melbourne and Hobson's Bay Railway Company, who owned the St Kilda line, purchased the Melbourne Suburban Railway Company and became the Melbourne and Hobson's Bay United Railway Company, and subsequently bought the St. K. & B. R. C., which was in financial difficulties, for £99,500. The Victorian Government acquired the United railway company in July 1878.
In September 1887, the Brighton line was extended to Sandringham.
The Sandringham line became the first line in Victoria to be provided with automatic signals, with the line as far as Elsternwick converted in stages from 1915 to 1918. Then in 1919, the Sandringham line became, with the line to Essendon, the first line in the country to be electrified (apart from a test installation on the Flemington Racecourse line). Automatic signalling was provided the rest of the way to Sandringham in two stages in 1926.
Services on the line originally ran via the St Kilda line, but from 1862 ran exclusively via the Cremorne route. In 1894, through services from Brighton Beach to Essendon were introduced, an arrangement that continued until 1973, when Sandringham services were altered to run through to the St Kilda and Port Melbourne lines.
When the underground City Loop line was designed, it was not intended to cater for trains on the Port Melbourne, St Kilda, and Sandringham lines. However, a crossover was installed near Richmond to allow Sandringham trains to cross to the tracks used by the Frankston and Pakenham trains, which had access to the underground loop. In 1985, two Sandringham trains each way were altered to run via the underground loop, and in 1987, with the Port Melbourne and St Kilda lines now converted to light rail operation, all off-peak and many peak trains were routed via the underground loop.
However, congestion caused by merging with the Frankston and Pakenham services resulted in a number of changes to Sandringham trains operating via the underground loop, and today only weekend services run that way. Some weekday peak services are through-routed with Williamstown line services.
Standard timetabled journey
from Flinders Street
On weekdays, all Sandringham services run direct to and from Flinders Street, without travelling through the City Loop. Weekend services travel via the City Loop in anticlockwise direction with Pakenham, Cranbourne and Frankston lines. This does not include night services.