Sydney Metro (known during early planning and construction as Sydney Rapid Transit) is an automated rapid transit system under construction and testing in Sydney, New South Wales, Australia. The first dedicated rapid transit line to be constructed is a link from Rouse Hill to Epping. The new line will connect to the existing Epping to Chatswood railway line, which will be converted to rapid transit standards; the project is called Sydney Metro Northwest and is expected to open in 2019. Train testing on the first stage of the network began in February 2018.

Construction has commenced for Sydney Metro City & Southwest, an extension across Sydney Harbour and through the Central Business District (CBD), which will then take the trains to Bankstown.[2] The line is expected to open in 2024.[3] Sydney Metro West, a separate line between the Sydney CBD and Parramatta, is expected to open in the second half of the 2020s.

Sydney will be the first Australian city to build a metro system.[4][5] Plans and projects involving a high speed, rapid transit underground railway in Sydney date at least back to 2008,[6] although an initial proposal was raised as early as 2001.[7] 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.[8]

The network, currently Australia's largest public transport project,[9] will be controlled by the New South Wales Government's transport authority, Transport for NSW, and will be part of the authority's Opal ticketing system.


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.[10] He suggested that a number of "metro" lines—operationally independent from the existing network—should be constructed past 2020 due to capacity constraints.[11] This was later dismissed by the New South Wales Government as only a "shopping list" of potential projects.[12]

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.[13] 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.[14] 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.[15]

The construction of the North West Metro was however dependent on the privatisation of the electricity network,[16] 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.[17] 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 an planned West Metro extension to Westmead and Parramatta to be constructed soon after, subject to Federal funding.[18] 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,[19] and criticism came from the Greens on the grounds that the route seemed designed to pass through marginal electoral seats.[20] The Government's initial submission to Infrastructure Australia for funding was rejected to due "a lack of integrated planning".[21] It was later revealed that the cost had jumped from $4 billion to $5.3 billion in six months,[22] and internal estimates showed that the metro would run at only 15% of its maximum capacity.[23]

The CBD Metro was cancelled in early 2010, after the Premier was deposed a few months before in 2009.[24][25] The Government had spent almost $410 million on the project.[26] 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.[27]


In mid-2012 the newly elected Coalition government announced Sydney's Rail Future and the NSW Transport Masterplan.[28] 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.[29] These plans received criticism on the basis that they might not have the capacity of existing double-deck trains,[30] and concerns over the inability of trains on the existing network to use the new crossing.[31]

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.[32][33] The new railway would cross Sydney Harbour, tunnel beneath the CBD, and join the Bankstown line which would be converted to metro standards.[34]

The system was officially renamed 'Sydney Metro' in June 2015 following the passage of power privatisation bills.[35] Opposing parties warned the government that the sale of the power infrastructure may not provide the capital needed.[36]

Under construction

Sydney Metro Northwest

Chatswood railway station, which will be serviced by Sydney Metro. It will be the initial terminus prior to the extension to Bankstown.

The first stage will connect Sydney's north-western suburbs to Chatswood. 23 km (14 mi) of new track is planned between Rouse Hill and Epping, including eight new stations. The 13 km (8.1 mi) Epping to Chatswood rail link will then be converted to rapid transit standards and segregated from the existing Sydney Trains network.[37] Passengers will be able to interchange with the existing system at Epping and Chatswood. Construction on Sydney Metro Northwest began in late 2013 and the first services are scheduled to start in 2019.[38]

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.[39] 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".[39]

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 Bankstown in the city's south-west via the Sydney central business district. 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.[40] The City & Southwest extension represents the first phase of the "southern sector conversion" envisaged in Sydney's Rail Future.[3]

Proposed extensions

Sydney Metro West

Sydney Metro West is a separate line between the Sydney CBD and Westmead. The project was mentioned in a discussion paper released in September 2016 that investigated new rail projects to service Western Sydney and the proposed Western Sydney Airport. Media reports indicated the project had found favour with Transport for NSW and the New South Wales Government.[41][42] It was announced as an official project on 14 November 2016.[43]

Planning for the line is at an extremely early stage. Parramatta, Sydney Olympic Park, the Bays Precinct and the Sydney CBD were announced as initial station locations, with up to 12 stations being considered.[44] The preferred alignment is scheduled to be announced in late 2018,[45] and the line is expected to open in the second half of the 2020s. The government will use a value capture scheme to help pay for the project. The contributions from value capture are expected to amount to between 10 and 15 percent of the capital cost.[46]

The metro project serves a similar area to the previously announced Parramatta Light Rail. On 17 February 2017 it was announced that "stage 1" of the light rail project would run between Westmead and Carlingford, and that a "stage 2" branch to Strathfield via Sydney Olympic Park had been deferred.[42][47] A redesigned and truncated stage 2 route to Sydney Olympic Park via the suburbs to the north of the Parramatta River was announced in October 2017.[48]

In March 2018, the government announced new stations at Westmead and either Concord West or North Strathfield railway stations would be built.[49][50] An interchange at the western end of the line would also be built, connecting with the existing suburban stations at either Westmead or Parramatta.[51]

Other options for new metro stations include Camellia/Rydalmere, North Burwood/Five Dock, Kings Bay (Five Dock) and Pyrmont.[49] Construction is expected to begin by 2022.[50]

Rolling stock

Prototype of an Alstom Metropolis designed for the Sydney Metro, on display at the 2017 Sydney Royal Easter Show.

Twenty-two 6-car Alstom Metropolis electric multiple units have been ordered for the network. Each single deck train will feature two dedicated areas for prams, luggage and bicycles. There will be three doors per side per carriage and no internal doors between the carriages.[52] In a 6-car configuration the trains will sit 378 people, with a total capacity of 1,100.[53] Seating arrangements on the Alstom trains will be longitudinal, in accordance with the style of most other metro trains.[54]

A life-size model of the new train has been built for use on public display, including at the annual Sydney Royal Easter Show.[55][56] 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.[57]

These trains were built in Sri City, Chennai, India.[58] The first six-car Sydney Metro train arrived in Rouse Hill on 26 September 2017 and will undergo testing in the coming months.[59]

In February 2018, dynamic testing on the first of the trainsets began.[60] Testing is being done on brakes, passenger information displays, lighting and door operation.[61]


Stage 1 is due to operate 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.[62]The line will run 21 or 22 hours.[citation needed]

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.[3] Developing plans for this extension has proven difficult, and the Sydney Morning Herald reported in February 2016 that the project may have been dropped.[63]

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.[64] 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:[65]

Option Mode
Line to the Sydney Metro Northwest at Rouse Hill Likely to be metro
Extension of the Sydney Metro City & Southwest from Bankstown via Liverpool Metro
Line between Macarthur and Schofields via Western Sydney Airport and St Marys Likely 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 T2 Airport Line between the CBD and Revesby via the existing airport.[65] The New South Wales Government announced Sydney Metro West in November 2016, turning the CBD to Parramatta line into an official project of the government.

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.[66]

At the same time, the governments announced the development of a new rail line serving the airport. This line would form part of the North-South Link, running south from St Marys to the airport, before continuing on to the Badgerys Creek Aerotropolis. Funding for the line will be split 50:50 between the governments.[67] The line is scheduled to open by the time the airport opens in 2026.[68]

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.[69]


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External links