The Sydney Metro is a fully automated rapid transit system serving the city of Sydney, New South Wales. 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 Sydney Central Business District (CBD) with a scheduled 2024 completion. When completed, this line will have 66 km (41.0 mi) of twin tracks and 31 stations.
|Owner||NSW Government (via the Transport Asset Holding Entity)|
|Transit type||Rapid transit|
|Number of lines|
|Number of stations|
|Daily ridership||35,370 (2020)|
|Annual ridership||12,911,000 (2020)|
|Chief executive||Peter Regan|
|Began operation||26 May 2019|
|Operator(s)||Metro Trains Sydney|
|Character||Elevated, open cut and underground|
|Number of vehicles||22 6-car Alstom Metropolis sets|
|Headway||4 minutes (peak)|
10 minutes (off-peak)
|Track gauge||1,435 mm (4 ft 8+1⁄2 in) standard gauge|
|Top speed||100 km/h (62.1 mph)|
Two additional lines have been announced; Sydney Metro Western Sydney Airport and Sydney Metro West. Sydney Metro Western Sydney Airport will run approximately 23 km from St Marys to the planned Aerotropolis Core. It will comprise six stations and service the new Western Sydney International (Nancy-Bird Walton) Airport upon opening in 2026.
Sydney Metro West will run approximately 24 km from Westmead to the Sydney CBD. It is planned to comprise nine stations, serviced by underground twin tracks. The line will also service Parramatta and Sydney Olympic Park upon opening in 2030.
Sydney is the first and currently the only city in Australia with a fully automated (driverless) rapid transit metro system. Plans and projects involving a high speed, rapid transit underground railway in Sydney date at least back to 2008, although an initial proposal was raised as early as 2001. 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.
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. He suggested that a number of "metro" lines—operationally independent from the existing network—should be constructed past 2020 due to capacity constraints. This was later dismissed by the New South Wales Government as only a "shopping list" of potential projects.
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. In early 2008, following the shelving of various heavy rail expansion projects from the 2005 Metropolitan Rail Expansion Program (MREP), the Government officially announced the 37 km (23 mi) North West Metro. 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.
The construction of the North West Metro was however dependent on the privatisation of the electricity network, 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 railway station. 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. 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, and criticism came from the Greens on the grounds that the route seemed designed to pass through marginal electoral seats. The Government's initial submission to Infrastructure Australia for funding was rejected due to "a lack of integrated planning". It was later revealed that the cost had jumped from $4 billion to $5.3 billion in six months, and internal estimates showed that the metro would run at only 15% of its maximum capacity.
The CBD Metro was cancelled in early 2010, after the Premier was deposed a few months before in 2009. The Government had spent almost $410 million on the project. 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.
In mid-2012, the newly elected Coalition government announced Sydney's Rail Future and the NSW Transport Masterplan. 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. These plans received criticism on the basis that they might not have the capacity of existing double-deck trains, and concerns over the inability of trains on the existing network to use the new crossing.
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. The new railway would cross Sydney Harbour, tunnel beneath the CBD, and join the Bankstown line which would be converted to metro standards.
The system was officially renamed 'Sydney Metro' in June 2015 following the passage of power privatisation bills. Opposing parties warned the government that the sale of the power infrastructure may not provide the capital needed.
In July 2018, Sydney Metro was established as a statutory authority, tasked with leading the delivery of the metro system. As of March 2021[update], Peter Regan is the Chief Executive of the agency.
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. The network is fully automated to GoA4 level, and uses CBTC signalling throughout.
The Metro North West Line is currently the only line in the Sydney Metro network, linking Tallawong to Chatswood with 13 stations along a 36 km distance. 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. 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.
The network operates using 22 6-car Alstom Metropolis TS sets, which are fully automated 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. In a 6-car configuration, the trains have a seating capacity of 378 people, with a total capacity of 1,100. Seating arrangements on the Alstom trains are longitudinal, in accordance with the style of most other metro trains. The trains utilise Alstom's trademark Urbalis 400 Grade-of-Automation signalling system that ensures that trains are capable of operating automatically at all times including door closing, obstacle detection and emergency situations.
Prior to the 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. The trains were built at Alstom's rolling stock manufacturing facility in India, with the first six-car Sydney Metro train arriving in Rouse Hill on 26 September 2017 to undergo testing.
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. The line will run 21 or 22 hours.
The following table lists patronage figures for the network during the corresponding financial year. Australia's financial years start on 1 July and end on 30 June. Major events that affected the number of journeys made or how patronage is measured are included as notes.
- Sydney Metro opened in May 2019
- Patronage was lower than anticipated due to people staying at home and not taking public transport to school or work during the COVID-19 pandemic
|Mode||Patronage||% of total|
|14 248 000||3.75|
|186 112 000||48.92|
|156 868 000||41.24|
|6 200 000||1.63|
|16 982 000||4.46|
|Total||380 419 000||100.00|
Ticketing and costsEdit
Sydney Metro uses the Opal card ticketing system. The fare system is fully integrated with the Sydney Trains network and the NSW TrainLink Intercity network - trips involving suburban, metro and intercity services are calculated as a single fare and there is no interchange penalty. Students who use the Sydney Metro network to get to and from schools can apply for a free School Opal card. Opal is also valid on bus, ferry, and light rail services but separate fares apply for these modes. The following table lists Opal fares for reusable smartcards and single trip tickets:
|As of 5 July 2021||0–10 km||10–20 km||20–35 km||35–65 km||65 km+|
|Adult cards & contactless (peak)||$3.66||$4.55||$5.23||$6.99||$8.99|
|Adult cards & contactless (off-peak)||$2.56||$3.18||$3.66||$4.89||$6.29|
|Other cards (peak)||$1.83||$2.27||$2.61^||$3.49^||$4.49^|
|Other cards (off-peak)||$1.28||$1.58||$1.82||$2.44||$3.14^|
|Adult single trip||$4.50||$5.60||$6.40||$8.40||$10.80|
|Child/Youth single trip||$2.20||$2.80||$3.20||$4.20||$5.40|
^ = $2.50 for Senior/Pensioner cardholders
As there are no return or periodical options available, reusable Opal cards include a number of caps to reduce the cost for frequent travellers:
|As of 6 July 2020||Adult cards||Other concession
|Daily Saturday and Sunday||$8.05||$4.00||$2.50|
Station Access Fee
Sydney Metro NorthwestEdit
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. At Epping, the line connects to the existing 13 km (8.1 mi) Epping to Chatswood rail link, which was converted from heavy rail to rapid transit standards and segregated from the existing Sydney Trains network. Passengers are able to interchange with the existing system at both Epping and Chatswood. Construction on Sydney Metro Northwest began in late 2013. 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. 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".
Sydney Metro City & SouthwestEdit
The second stage will extend Sydney Metro Northwest 30 km (19 mi) from Chatswood on the North Shore, to Central, in the south of the city centre. The centrepiece of the project is a new twin-tunnel rail crossing under Sydney Harbour. From Central, new track will be built to Sydenham railway station. From Sydenham, the existing Bankstown railway line as far as Bankstown railway station will be converted from heavy rail to rapid transit standard. Construction on Sydney Metro City & Southwest began in mid 2017. The line is planned to open in 2024.
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. The City & Southwest extension represents the first phase of the "southern sector conversion" envisaged in Sydney's Rail Future.
Sydney Metro WestEdit
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, with up to 12 stations being considered including station locations at Parramatta, Sydney Olympic Park, Five Dock, the Bays Precinct and the 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.
The government announced and confirmed seven station locations along the line in 2019, with a further 2 stations announced in 2021. 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.
Sydney Metro Western Sydney AirportEdit
In March 2018, 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. Stage 1 of the Western Sydney Airport line will operate between St Marys and Badgerys Creek Aerotropolis via Western Sydney Airport. The line is expected to start construction in late 2020 and to be completed in 2026 in time for the opening of the airport.
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. 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.
The Western Sydney Airport line is planned to be extended to connect to the Northwest line in Tallawong, and the Sydney Trains North Shore & Western and Cumberland lines at Schofields to the north, as well as the Airport & South Line at Macarthur to the south. The West line would also be extended from Westmead to the Western Sydney Airport.
South Western SydneyEdit
The City & Southwest line is being planned to be extended from Bankstown to Liverpool. 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. Developing plans for this extension has proven difficult, and the Sydney Morning Herald reported in February 2016 that the project may have been dropped.
South Eastern SydneyEdit
The South East Sydney Transport Strategy of the New South Wales government envisions a metro line starting from the CBD with stations at Green Square, Randwick, two at Maroubra, Malabar and La Perouse built by 2041, as well as another one from Randwick to Eastlakes and, via the Domestic and International terminals of Sydney Airport, further on to Brighton-Le-Sands and then Kogarah by 2056.
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