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Metro train at Chatswood station on the opening day of the Sydney Metro North West line, Sunday 26 May 2019.

Interior of Metro train on Sydney Metro North West line, 26 May 2019.

Sydney Metro Railways

David Matheson

9 September 2019

Metro railways are a form of high capacity rapid transit railway used in urban areas. Features include electric operation, single-deck trains, frequent services, stations generally close together, and lines mostly built underground. Services operate on a turn up and go basis, meaning that they operate frequently enough that passengers do not require a timetable. Metro railway networks exist in numerous cities of the world, particularly in Europe, North America and Asia.


Although underground passenger railways operate in Sydney and Melbourne, and there are short sections of underground lines in Brisbane and Perth, these are parts of larger above ground railway networks, and are not considered as Metro railways. Australia’s first Metro railway is the Sydney Metro North West line that opened on 26 May 2019 between Chatswood on the North Shore and Tallawong in the Hills District.


Sydney Metro North West

Sydney Metro North West is the first stage of Sydney Metro. It involved the construction of a new Metro line from Epping through Castle Hill, Kellyville and Rouse Hill to Tallawong, and the conversion of the existing Epping–Chatswood railway line into a Metro line. Metro North West services the growing suburbs of Sydney’s north-west and Hills district. It includes twin 15 km tunnels between Epping and Bella Vista, Australia’s longest rail tunnels. It also includes a 4 km elevated viaduct between Bella Vista and Rouse Hill. Eight new stations were built along the new line and the five stations on the existing Epping–Chatswood line were upgraded, including platform screen doors to improve safety.


Part of the Sydney Metro project is the Sydney Metro Trains Facility (SMTF), which provides stabling facilities for 20 six-car Metro trains currently in service, but will eventually have capacity for 46 six-car trains. It also includes maintenance facilities for a fleet of 76 trains on Sydney’s Metro network.


Journey time on the full length of the Sydney Metro North West line from Chatswood to Tallawong is 37 minutes. Trains operate every four minutes during peak periods, and every ten minutes during off peak times and on weekends.


Passengers travelling on Sydney Metro North West to other stations on the Sydney railway network need to change trains at Chatswood. There is no direct Metro service to the Central Business District. This arrangement will remain in place until the Sydney Metro City & Southwest is completed, and passengers will then be able to travel by Metro train directly between stations on the Sydney Metro North West line and the CBD. The journey time from the end of the line at Tallawong to Chatswood along the Metro line, and then to Wynyard in the CBD along the existing heavy railway will be 57 minutes. When the Sydney Metro North West and Sydney Metro City & Southwest have been completed, the journey time from the end of the line at Tallawong to Martin Place in the CBD will be 48 minutes.


Sydney Metro Railways

In addition to Sydney Metro North West, two other Metro projects are currently planned for Sydney: Sydney Metro City & Southwest and Sydney Metro West.


Sydney Metro City & Southwest

Sydney Metro City & Southwest incorporates two core components:

  • Construction of new 15.5 km twin tunnels from Chatswood, under Sydney Harbour and through the Central Business District, to Sydenham.

  • Upgrading and conversion of the existing 13.5 km railway line between Sydenham and Bankstown stations to Metro standards.

The section between Chatswood and Sydenham will be 16 km in length and will include seven new Metro stations. All of these stations will be underground and will be located at Crows Nest, Victoria Cross, Barangaroo, Martin Place, Pitt Street, Central and Waterloo. The eleven existing stations from Sydenham to Bankstown are all above ground and will be upgraded to Metro standards. Early work commenced in 2017 and the line will be operational in 2024. The Bankstown line will be shut down at various stages during the construction phase to facilitate upgrading work. When the Sydney Metro City & Southwest has been completed, the journey time from the end of the line at Bankstown to Martin Place in the CBD will be 32 minutes. The line could in future be extended from Bankstown to Liverpool.


An interactive map showing the routes and information regarding Sydney Metro North West and Sydney Metro City & Southwest can be viewed at <>.


Sydney Metro map.png

Sydney Metro West

Sydney Metro West is a Metro line that will link the Sydney CBD, the Bays Precinct around Glebe and Rozelle, Sydney Olympic Park, Parramatta and Westmead. It will include a station connecting with the T1 Western line at either Parramatta or Westmead, and a station connecting with the T9 Northern line at either North Strathfield or Concord West. Consultation will occur regarding the location of intermediate stations. The line could in future be further extended west from Westmead and south-east from the Sydney CBD. The new Metro line will transport around 40,000 passengers per hour in each direction. Services are expected to begin operating in the second half of the 2020s decade. Sydney Metro West is listed on the July 2019 Infrastructure Priority List by Infrastructure Australia, and the New South Wales Government has allocated funding to the project.


Sydney Metro Trains

A fleet of 22 six-car trains currently services Sydney’s Metro railways. The trains were built by Alstom at Sri City (near Chennai) in India. They are based on an international standard, but were adapted for service in Sydney. Similar trains are currently in operation in 25 cities, including Singapore, Amsterdam and Barcelona. The trains are driverless and single-deck. Sydney Metro’s trains and infrastructure has Automatic Train Operation (ATO) at Level 4 Grade of Automation (GoA), which is the highest level. Each carriage has three double doors, which enables passengers to leave and board the train quickly. Trains operate with six carriages, but there is capacity for eight-carriage trains to operate in future. Each train has a trailer car (DTC) at the end of each set, two motor cars (MC) in the middle, and a motor car with pantograph (MPC) between each trailer car and motor car. The length of each set is 132 metres and there is seating for 378 passengers. Metro trains have seating parallel to the side of the carriage throughout, so that it is possible to see from one end of an empty train to the other. They contain wheelchair spaces, and each train has two multi-purpose areas for prams, luggage and bicycles. Trains are air-conditioned and provide mobile coverage along the entire journey. Passenger Information Displays (PID) have real time travel information and live route maps. A circle on the map indicating the station flashes when the train is at that station. The Metro trains have a design speed of 110 km/h, but operate at a maximum of 100 km/h in general service.


Sydney Metro have three electric locomotives used for maintenance and shunting purposes. Two locomotives have pantographs for service under electric overhead wires, as well as battery packs for use when the power is off or for shunting non-electrified sidings. A smaller battery-powered locomotive is used for moving Metro trains through the washing plant and wheel lathe at the Tallawong depot.



Infrastructure Australia <>.

Jehan, D, A Honan & V Prados-Valerio, ‘Sydney Metro–Australia’s first fully-automated rolling stock’, Conference on railway excellence, Railway

     Technical Society of Australasia, 2016.

Sydney Metro <>.

Sydney Metro City & Southwest <>.

Sydney Metro West <>.

Beckhaus, J, ‘Transport for New South Wales Metro Rollingstock’, Railway Digest, vol. 57, no. 9, September 2019, pp. 42–5.


Metro train at Epping station, Sydney Metro North West line, 26 May 2019.



Metro train viewed from rear of another train at Rouse Hill station, Sydney Metro North West line, Sunday 26 May 2019.

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