Sydney Metro

Sydney Metro is a fully automated rapid transit system located in Sydney, New South Wales, Australia. Currently consisting of one line that opened on 26 May 2019, it runs from Tallawong to Chatswood and consists of 13 stations and 36 km (22.4 mi) of twin tracks, mostly underground. Work is progressing to extend this line from Chatswood to Bankstown, running under Sydney Harbour and the CBD with a scheduled 2024 completion. When completed, this line will have 66 km (41.0 mi) of twin tracks and 31 stations in total.

Sydney Metro
An Alstom Metropolis train arriving into Chatswood Station
OwnerTransport for NSW (through RailCorp)
Transit typeRapid transit
Number of lines
  • 1
Number of stations
  • 13
  • 18 (under construction)
Daily ridership62,570[1]
Chief executiveJon Lamonte[2]
WebsiteSydney Metro
Began operation26 May 2019
Operator(s)Metro Trains Sydney
CharacterElevated railway, subway
Number of vehicles22 six-cars Alstom Metropolis trains
Headway4 minutes (peak)
10 minutes (off-peak)
System length36 km (22 mi)[3]
30 km (19 mi) (under construction)[3][4]
Track gauge1,435 mm (4 ft 8 12 in) standard gauge
Electrification1500 V (DC) overhead line
Top speed100 km/h (62.1 mph) [5]
System map

The Sydney Metro West project has also been announced and will run from the CBD to Westmead, including 24 km (14.9 mi) of underground twin tracks and seven stations. Early design studies are underway to extend this line to the upcoming Western Sydney Airport, as well as additional lines between St Marys, Liverpool and Macarthur via the airport.

Sydney was the first Australian city to build a fully automated metro system.[6][7] Plans and projects involving a high speed, rapid transit underground railway in Sydney date at least back to 2008,[8] although an initial proposal was raised as early as 2001.[9] Despite extensive plans for an underground network in the past, disputes over privatisation and funding had hampered government approval, delaying its inception. In spite of difficulties getting the project off the ground, government approval for what was initially known as the North West Rail Link, Sydney's first underground metro, was given in 2013. Route extensions and a name change to the Sydney Metro soon followed.[10]

The network is controlled by the Sydney Metro agency, under the umbrella of Transport for NSW. Services are operated by Metro Trains Sydney.


Earlier proposals

The first proposals for a metro system in Sydney were put forward in 2001, when Co-ordinator-General of Rail Ron Christie released his "Long-term Strategic Plan for Rail" report, outlining long-term goals for the expansion of the rail network.[11] He suggested that a number of "metro" lines—operationally independent from the existing network—should be constructed past 2020 due to capacity constraints.[12] This was later dismissed by the New South Wales Government as only a "shopping list" of potential projects.[13]

The idea for a metro resurfaced in late 2007, when discussions about an underground 'Anzac Line' took place within the NSW Government. The line would have run from West Ryde in Sydney's north-west to Malabar in the south-east, but did not come to fruition.[14] In early 2008, following the shelving of various heavy rail expansion projects from the 2005 Metropolitan Rail Expansion Programme, the Government officially announced the 37 km (23 mi) North West Metro.[15] Expected to cost $12 billion, it would have linked Rouse Hill in Sydney's north-west with the CBD, with construction starting in 2010 and finishing in 2017.[16]

The construction of the North West Metro was however dependent on the privatisation of the electricity network,[17] and after a change of the state's Premier in late 2008 it was cancelled due to budgetary concerns. Its replacement was the 9 km (5.6 mi), $4 billion CBD Metro, a shortened route running from Rozelle in the inner-west and into the CBD through to Central.[18] Construction was scheduled to start in 2010, like its predecessor, but finish earlier in 2015. The CBD Metro was to have formed the "central spine" of a future metro network, with a planned West Metro extension to Westmead and Parramatta to be constructed soon after, subject to Federal funding.[19] Reception to the plans was mixed, with Opposition leader Barry O'Farrell accusing the Premier of "making it up as he goes along" after costings weren't released until after the press conference,[20] and criticism came from the Greens on the grounds that the route seemed designed to pass through marginal electoral seats.[21] The Government's initial submission to Infrastructure Australia for funding was rejected due to "a lack of integrated planning".[22] It was later revealed that the cost had jumped from $4 billion to $5.3 billion in six months,[23] and internal estimates showed that the metro would run at only 15% of its maximum capacity.[24]

The CBD Metro was cancelled in early 2010, after the Premier was deposed a few months before in 2009.[25][26] The Government had spent almost $410 million on the project.[27] The new Premier Kristina Keneally chose instead to focus on expansion of the existing heavy rail network, including the North West Rail Link and South West Rail Link.[28]


In mid-2012 the newly elected Coalition government announced Sydney's Rail Future and the NSW Transport Masterplan.[29] Under this proposal, the North West Rail Link would be built as a single-deck, privately operated metro connecting to a future second harbour crossing.[30] These plans received criticism on the basis that they might not have the capacity of existing double-deck trains,[31] and concerns over the inability of trains on the existing network to use the new crossing.[32]

In 2014 the Government announced the second harbour crossing under the name Sydney Rapid Transit, as part of the 'Rebuilding NSW' infrastructure plan funded through the sale of electricity infrastructure.[33][34] The new railway would cross Sydney Harbour, tunnel beneath the CBD, and join the Bankstown line which would be converted to metro standards.[35]

The system was officially renamed 'Sydney Metro' in June 2015 following the passage of power privatisation bills.[36] Opposing parties warned the government that the sale of the power infrastructure may not provide the capital needed.[37]

In July 2018, Sydney Metro was established as a statutory authority, tasked with leading the delivery of the metro system.[38] As of April 2019, Jon Lamonte is the Chief Executive of the agency.[2]


North West Line

The Metro North West Line travels from Tallawong station to Chatswood station, with 13 stations along 36 km in total. Since July 2019, services take 37 minutes from end to end, at a frequency of every 4 minutes during peak hours and every 10 minutes at all other times.[39][40] Prior to that, for the first few weeks after opening, the line operated one every 5 minutes during the peak hours until it was increased to every 4 minutes.[41][42]

Services began on 26 May 2019. For the first 6 months of operation, they will be supplemented with trackwork style rail replacement buses for late night services from Sundays to Wednesdays.[43][44]


Sydney Metro services are operated by Metro Trains Sydney, a joint venture between MTR Corporation, John Holland Group, and UGL Rail, who will operate and maintain the network under a 15-year contract.[45] The network is fully automated to GoA4 level, and uses CBTC signalling throughout.[46]

Rolling stock

The network operates using 22 6-car Alstom Metropolis electric multiple units. Each single deck train features two dedicated areas for prams, luggage and bicycles. There are three doorways per side per carriage and no internal doors between the carriages.[47] In a 6-car configuration the trains have a seating capacity of 378 people, with a total capacity of 1,100.[48] Seating arrangements on the Alstom trains are longitudinal, in accordance with the style of most other metro trains.[49] The trains utilise Alstom's trademark Urbalis 400 Grade-of-Automation signalling system that ensures trains are capable of operating automatically at all times including door closing, obstacle detection and emergency situations.

Prior to introduction of services, a full-scale model of the new train was built for use on public display, including at the annual Sydney Royal Easter Show.[50][51] It consists of the front carriage, including its distinctive nose. Members of the public are able to tour the inside of the mockup. It is approximately 75% of the length of the final design for the new carriages, having two doors instead of three.[52]

These trains were built at Alstom's rolling stock manufacturing facility in Sri City, Andhra Pradesh, India.[53] The first six-car Sydney Metro train arrived in Rouse Hill on 26 September 2017 and began to undergo testing in the following months.[54]

In February 2018, dynamic testing on the first of the trainsets began.[55] Testing was done on brakes, passenger information displays, lighting and door operation.[56]


Stage 1 (Metro North West) operates with 6-car trains running on 4 minute headways. After the addition of the Stage 2 extension to Bankstown, the system will require at least 59 six-car trains to run every four minutes during peak periods. However the stations’ platforms will be configured to allow for future use of 8-car trains and the signalling system designed to allow for 2 minute headways, both of which are planned to be introduced once sufficient patronage demands it. Eight-car trains have a design capacity of 1,539 customers, and increasing the running frequency to ultimately 30 trains per hour (2 minute headway) would provide a maximum capacity of 46,170 passengers per hour per direction.[57] The line will run 21 or 22 hours.


Sydney Metro Northwest

The first stage connects Sydney's north-western suburbs to Chatswood. It consists of 23 km (14 mi) of new track between Rouse Hill and Epping, which includes eight new stations. The 13 km (8.1 mi) Epping to Chatswood rail link has been converted to rapid transit standards and segregated from the existing Sydney Trains network.[58] Passengers are able to interchange with the existing system at both Epping and Chatswood. Construction on Sydney Metro Northwest began in late 2013.[59] The line opened on 26 May 2019.

In November 2016, Sydney Metro, in particular the John Holland Group, Dragados and Transport for NSW, were awarded the 2016 NSW Premier's Award for Building Infrastructure for the 15 km twin-tunnels in Bella Vista and Epping, which are currently the longest tunnels constructed in Australia.[60] The completion of these tunnels in early 2016 marked the completion of the first stage of Sydney Metro Northwest. The NSW Premier's award recognises "infrastructure projects in the state that make a difference to the local community".[60]

Sydney Metro City & Southwest

The second stage will extend Sydney Metro Northwest, currently under construction, 30 km (19 mi) from Chatswood on the North Shore, to Central in the city central. The centrepiece of the project is a new twin-tunnel rail crossing under Sydney Harbour. Together with planned improvements to the Main Western line, the project is expected to increase capacity on the Sydney rail network by up to 60%, and allow for the movement of over 100,000 extra commuters across the network every hour.[61] The City & Southwest extension represents the first phase of the "southern sector conversion" envisaged in Sydney's Rail Future.[62]

Proposed extensions

Sydney Metro West

Sydney Metro West is a separate line between the Sydney CBD and Westmead. The line was announced as an official project on 14 November 2016,[63] with up to 12 stations being considered including station locations at Parramatta, Sydney Olympic Park, the Bays Precinct and the Sydney CBD. In March 2018, the government announced that an additional station would be built at Westmead, as well as one that connected to either of the existing stations at Concord West or North Strathfield.[64][65]

The 2019-2020 New South Wales state budget in June 2019 allocated funding of $6.4 billion over four years to the project, with construction to be fast-tracked to start in 2020.[66][67][68]

The government announced and confirmed seven station locations along the line.[69][70][71] Initial work is expected to start in 2020, with tunnelling to begin in 2022. The line is expected to open to the public by 2030.[72]

Potential extensions

To Hurstville

The second phase of the southern sector conversion would see two of the four tracks between Sydenham and Hurstville, part of the Sydney Trains Illawarra line, converted to rapid transit and added to the Sydney Metro network. This would increase rail capacity between Hurstville and the city by 10 trains per hour. Though a precise construction timeframe was not provided, the plan envisages all work being completed by 2031. The Hurstville conversion would add eight stations and 9 km (5.6 mi) to the metro network.[62] Developing plans for this extension has proven difficult, and the Sydney Morning Herald reported in February 2016 that the project may have been dropped.[73]

Western Sydney routes

A scoping study into rail investment to service Western Sydney and the proposed Western Sydney Airport was announced by the New South Wales and Australian governments in November 2015.[74] A discussion paper was released in September 2016. The paper proposed various options that could provide a rail link to the airport, some of which are or are likely to be metro lines. The metro options are:[75]

Line to the Sydney Metro Northwest at Rouse HillLikely to be metro
Extension of the Sydney Metro City & Southwest from Bankstown via LiverpoolMetro
Line between Macarthur and Schofields via Western Sydney Airport and St MarysLikely to be metro

The paper also suggested two other potential metro projects: a new line between the Sydney CBD and Parramatta via Five Dock and Sydney Olympic Park and conversion of a section of the Airport Line between the CBD and Revesby via the existing airport.[75] The line between the Sydney CBD and Parramatta would later be announced as Sydney Metro West in November 2016.

The study's final report was released in March 2018. It proposed two new lines to ultimately service the Western Sydney airport precinct: a "North-South Link" from Schofields to Macarthur and an "East-West Link" from Parramatta to the "Badgerys Creek Aerotropolis" - an area south of the airport. The report suggested that "a metro or light metro style of train would suit the North-South Link". The East-West Link could form an extension of Sydney Metro West. Two extensions of the initial metro line were also proposed: an extension of the northern section from Cudgegong Road to Schofields and an extension of the southern section from Bankstown to Liverpool.[76]

Sydney Metro Greater West

In March 2018, at the same time as the study report was published, the federal and state governments signed the Western Sydney City Deal and announced the development of stage 1 of the North-South Link as part of the deal.[77] Stage 1 will run south from St Marys to Western Sydney Airport, before continuing on to the Badgerys Creek Aerotropolis. Funding for the line will be split 50:50 between the governments as part of the deal.

In the 2019-2020 federal budget in April 2019, the federal government announced a contribution of $3.5 billion to deliver stage 1 of the rail link.[78][79] This funding also includes $50 million towards the business case process for the North South Rail Link and $61 million for the Elizabeth Drive overpass. In the 2019-2020 New South Wales state budget in June 2019, the state government announced an investment of $2.0 billion to commence the construction of stage 1 for the next 4 years.[68] The line is expected to start construction in 2021 and to be completed in 2026 in time for the opening of the airport.[80]

Since 2019, the North-South Link is referred to as "Sydney Metro Greater West" by the Sydney Metro agency.[81]

In media

A Seven News documentary on the early construction of part of the Sydney Metro aired on the Seven Network on 14 July 2016 titled World's Best Metro.[82]

See also


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