HOW do they do it?

DON’T give a timeline that’s realistic; overstate it and with a bit of luck the job will be done early or on time

DON’T give a budget that’s realistic; overstate it and with a bit of luck the job will be done under or on budget


-how to look good without much effort

-ignore the massive blow-out in the south eastern light rail project and …

Note CAAN’s comments in bold

VOTE the Libs out …



Sydney Metro Northwest showcased as NSW election focus moves back to transport 



The Premier showing off the new trains with Transport Minister Andrew Constance

The Premier showing off the new trains with Transport Minister Andrew Constance



The NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian has shown off one of her Government’s flagship infrastructure projects, the Sydney Metro Northwest, in the final few days of the state election campaign.

Ms Berejiklian was joined by Transport Minister Andrew Constance and local MPs for the first ride on the new driverless train, which will run from Rouse Hill in the city’s north-west and will eventually link up with Chatswood, the CBD and the south-west.

The rail link, due to officially open in May, is the introduction of Australia’s first fully automated passenger line, which can reach a maximum speed of 90 kilometres per hour.

“This is a truly historic day, not just for NSW but for Australia,” Ms Berejiklian said.

“I am quite struck for words as to how awesome it was to experience what so many commuters will in May.”

CAAN:  Gladys the expression is “stuck for words” meaning unable to think of anything to say …


The Government announced the $8.3-billion project had come in $1 billion under budget and ahead of schedule, spruiking its achievements to voters.


“The Northwest Metro rail line shows that when the NSW Liberals and Nationals make a promise, we deliver on it,” Ms Berejiklian said.

Mr Constance said passengers would fall in love with the new Sydney Metro, where commuters from the north-west could expect to see trains stopping every two minutes along the route during peak hours.

CAAN:  It will be packed out from Rouse Hill to the CBD!  With only one third seating!

60 Km

“When they were last in office, Labor promised 12 rail lines and didn’t deliver a single one and now they want to cancel the Sydenham to Bankstown Metro upgrade, depriving Sydney’s south-west of world class metro services,” he said.

CAAN: World class Metro Services travel short distances like that of London and Paris

The Government said the entire 22-train fleet had been delivered and more than 35,000km of train testing had taken place along the route’s 13 stations.

Since 2011, the State Government has spent $58.3 billion on road and rail projects.

CAAN:  In July 2018 Ryan Park, Shadow Treasurer issued this Media Release to reveal that:

“on top of the more than $50 BILLION of publicly-owned assets already sold off by the Liberal-Nationals which includes income–generating assets such as the Land and Property Information, electricity assets and the ports … “


That the “Berejiklian Government is asking its departments to identify which assets can be sold off, as it pushes ahead with its privatisation agenda and leaves NSW with less money in the long-term.”



But today’s positive media announcement sits in stark contrast to other major infrastructure projects, including Sydney’s troubled Light Rail project, where the cost has blown out from $1.6 billion to $2.1 billion even before the settlement of a lawsuit with key contractor Acciona.

That’s now not expected to be completed until May 2020 and delays to the project could impact on Coogee MP Bruce Notley-Smith’s chances of re-election.

WestConnex is also over budget with ongoing construction causing headaches for commuters in Sydney’s innerwest.

*Labor meanwhile has said it would not proceed with the government’s proposed conversion of the existing Bankstown line for new metro trains and would also cancel the planned F6 extension, the M12 link to the new Badgerys’ Creek airport, the second Sydney Harbour crossing and the Northern Beaches Link.

If elected, it would instead fast track the new Western Sydney metro line from the CBD to Parramatta and Westmead.





All aboard: first new passenger trains set to enter service in Sydney



All aboard: first new passenger trains set to enter service in Sydney



They look like one of Sydney’s existing Waratah trains, and feel and travel like one.

For passengers, about the only noticeable difference of the 24 new Waratah B-sets from the earlier versions are the orange-coloured exterior of the driver cabins and tweaks to lighting in the carriages and their electronic information displays.

Waratah trains given thumbs up by Premier

Waratah trains given thumbs up by Premier

Play video


Waratah trains given thumbs up by Premier

Victorian mosques open their doors two days after Christchurch terror

Gladys Berejiklian says 24 new Waratah Series 2 trains will come into service with full air-conditioning throughout the network, with the aging S Set trains set to be retired.


But with surging patronage stretching Sydney’s rail network, the new trains will be a welcome relief, especially for commuters in the city’s south west.

They have had to endure more than their fair share of uncomfortable trips over summer on old S-sets, dubbed “sweat sets” because of their lack of airconditioning.


The first of the new Waratah trains – designed in Australia but built in China as part of a $1.7 billion contract – will enter service on Sydney’s rail network in the next two weeks.

With five already in the country, the rollout of the new trains on the network will be sped up over the next nine months, allowing Sydney Trains to finally retire the dreaded S-sets.

The first of 24 new Waratah trains is expected to begin passenger services within the next two weeks.
The first of 24 new Waratah trains is expected to begin passenger services within the next two weeks.CREDIT:JAMES ALCOCK


Sydney Trains has had to press the S-set trains into service more often in order to put on extra weekly services rolled out as part of a new timetable in November. The S-sets have been common on the South and Inner West, Bankstown and Airport and East Hills lines.

Sydney Trains executive director Tony Eid said the main reason S-sets were pressed back into service on lines in the south west was because of the “massive growth” in demand from passengers in the north-western corridor where newer types were needed.

“The S-set is slow to respond reliably – it takes longer to open and close doors, and it doesn’t carry as many people as the other trains do. But what is important is that when these [Waratah] B-sets come into service they will go straight into the south west,” he said.

On Thursday, Premier Gladys Berejiklian and Transport Minister Andrew Constance rode on one of three new Waratah trains which are undergoing testing on the network.

Train driver Adam Ghamrawi at the controls of a new Waratah train at Olympic Park.
Train driver Adam Ghamrawi at the controls of a new Waratah train at Olympic Park.CREDIT:JAMES ALCOCK


While the government has an option to buy 45 extra Waratah trains, Ms Berejiklian said it would need to consider the impact a new multibillion-dollar metro rail line had on the existing network before any decision was made on a new purchase.

Ms Berejiklian said the new type of Waratah trains – each eight carriages long – was “more customer friendly”, featuring electronic information boards.

“It’s really a better version of what is already a good train,” she said.

The Waratah train types will soon comprise well over half the Sydney Trains fleet.







PERHAPS there has been far too much foreign influence in the Berejiklian Government Sydney transport system?  Leading to poor outcomes for many Sydney commuters and residents …

DID the Hong Kong Consortium MTR persuade the NSW LNP Government, its bureaucrats to shut down the Award-winning Chatswood to Epping line? 

-it only opened in February 2009 – two years prior to the LNP takeover in 2011

MTR is a developer and en route out to Rouse Hill apartment developments are mushrooming

-the double-deck trains are being replaced by privatised dinky Metro with only one third seating for commuters travelling 60Km+

-the tunnels were reduced in size to prevent future replacement by the heavy rail network

2018 …

-the new Waratah B-set trains designed in Australia BUILT IN CHINA; part of a $1.7B contract are in service

HOWEVER it is alleged Southern Sydney commuters – the St George and The Shire

-will never see the new Waratah trains due to infrastructure and electrical requirements; but will indefinitely rely on the ageing Tangara trains

-a major Tangara technology upgrade due for completion in 2018 has not materialised

-the project end date removed from the Transport for NSW website

IT would appear with the overdevelopment and high population GROWTH in SYDNEY’s SOUTH WEST that the new Waratah trains have been allocated to serve the south west …

DESPITE the Berejiklian Government having an option to buy 45 extra WARATAH trains

-the government would need to consider the impact of its new $MultiBillion Metro line on the existing network

-before any decision was made on a new purchase


Related Article:  First new passenger trains set to enter service in Sydney


Southern Sydney commuters will be stuck with an ageing Tangara train fleet indefinitely as the government invests in trains that can’t run on their line.

T4 Eastern Suburbs Illawarra Line to miss out on new train fleet


Photo:    Southern Sydney commuters will be stuck with an ageing Tangara train fleet indefinitely as the government invests in trains that can’t run on their line


Southern Sydney commuters will never see the State Government’s shiniest new trains on their line because local train lines cannot cope with the electrical demands of newer models.


NSW Transport Minister Andrew Constance told the St George Shire Standard last week T4 Eastern Suburbs and Illawarra commuters would benefit from the introduction of 41 “brand new Waratah trains”.

“They don’t break down, they are a really great train,” Mr Constance said.

“It improves reliability and gives us the ability to optimise the service.”

Transport Minister Andrew Constance. (AAP Image/Mick Tsikas)


*However, Sutherland Shire and St George commuters will still be travelling on hand-me-down Tangara trains cast off by other train lines indefinitely because the local network is incapable of running the new Waratah fleet due to its infrastructure and electrical requirements.

A Transport for NSW spokesman confirmed 17 newly purchased Waratah Series 2 trains would mean Tangara trains would be allocated to the T4 Illawarra Line from elsewhere on the network.

“There are no plans to operate Waratah trains on the T4 Line,” the spokesman said.

Premier Gladys Berejiklian inspecting the first new Waratah trains in Sydney in March 2018. (AAP Image/Brendan Esposito)


Future T4 Line upgrades flagged by Mr Constance are designed for the operation of additional Tangara trains only.

“The More Trains, More Services program will improve infrastructure on the T4 Illawarra and South Coast Line, including power supply, digital signalling and station upgrades,” the spokesman said.

“This work will increase the total number of peak services on the T4 Illawarra Line by 30 per cent, creating more room for customers.”

NSW Labor transport spokeswoman Jodi McKay. (AAP Image / Julian Andrews)


NSW Labor transport spokeswoman Jodi McKay said Mr Constance owed southern Sydney commuters an explanation.

“The minister is either ill-informed about his own portfolio, or he’s tried to mislead his own community about their train service,” Ms McKay said.

“It’s a shocking situation – he owes commuters an explanation as to why they’ve pretended they can run these new trains on the T4 Line, and a justification for the issues that have been exposed.”

Oatley state Labor candidate Lucy Mannering with NSW Opposition Leader Michael Daley.


Oatley state Labor candidate Lucy Mannering said Shire and St George commuters had been badly let down by the State Government.

“The government has confirmed that T4 commuters are doomed to old trains forever,” Ms Mannering said.

The spokesman said there were operational and reliability benefits when lines are serviced by one type of train.

However, there is no indication of any plans to buy new Tangara fleets or any other kind of new train compatible with the T4 Line’s infrastructure.

The Tangara trains were introduced to the network in the late 80s.

T4 Line commuters will instead have to rely indefinitely on the ageing Tangara trains, the first of which were introduced to the network in December 1987 and the last of which in October 1995.

By contrast the oldest Waratah trains have only been in service since 2011, with the newest trains to be delivered in 2020.

*A major Tangara technology upgrade due to be completed in 2018 is also yet to materialise, with the $219.4m project’s end date removed from the Transport for NSW website.

The upgrades were designed to increase the Tangara stock’s life span by updating ageing components such as driver technology.

The last publicly available progress update was in December 2017.






It sucks, it’s gridlock, it’s torture getting to work … even going to the shops … the bleedin’ obvious is the lack of “public transport” …

the Sellergate of Our Public Heavy Rail Network for a dinky Metro and Toll Road tentacles …

It’s deteriorating by day with more cars and more flying in on Visas to pay for it …



Image result for a rat chasing its tail


-psst Mark & Geoff only 1 in 3 get a seat on the Metro and with high-rise out to Rouse Hill … human crowding in a can …

Across Sydney drivers are stuck on connecting roads … it can take half an hour to get onto the highway …


Meet four commuters putting the spotlight on Sydney’s transport ahead of the NSW election




Meet the squinter, the slogger, and someone who says her commute “just sucks”.

Getting around the Harbour City can be daunting, and transport looms as a critical issue ahead of the NSW election — now less than a month away.

We joined four commuters to see what they go through every day.

Sheryl — ‘The cross towner’


Sheryl Sidery has no problems finding the words to describe her daily drive: “It sucks, it’s torture.”

And for good reason, her commute involves Sydney’s Military Road — notorious for being among the most congested in Australia.

She says it’s as bad as everybody thinks it is.

Ms Sidery works as midwife at the Royal Hospital for Women in Randwick and lives in Brookvale, on the northern beaches.

She aims to leave home by 7am every day, because she says getting out the door even 10 minutes later extends her trip.

That’s what happened when the ABC joined her last week.

“It’s soul destroying,” she says.

“That’s why when they offered me a permanent position, they said we’d really like you to do five days.

“I’m said I’m not sitting in the traffic for five days.

“I can’t do it. It’ll kill me.”

Instead she commutes three days.

“Physically when you get to my age, it’s bad for me to sit for an hour,” she says.

“When I get out of my car, my hips are sore.”

Two years ago, the State Government promised to build the Western Harbour Tunnel and Beaches Link as a way to reduce congestion for Northern Beaches commuters.


The Beaches Link is designed to reduce the amount of cars on the Spit Bridge and redirect them into a tunnel under Middle Harbour.

But it’s still in the planning stage and hasn’t been approved yet.

Ms Sidery does not support the project.

“I don’t think the tunnel, to add more cars, is a good idea,” she says.

“I don’t think it’s good for the environment. I don’t think it’s what we need.”

Labor has vowed not to build the project if it wins next month’s election.

Mark — ‘The slogger’

Mark Stephens knows he lives a long way away from work.


He commutes from Kellyville by bus to Macquarie Park where he lectures in theology at a private college.

“You know you’re a distance away, it’s going to take 50 minutes to get to Macquarie Park on a great run,” he says.

“But you’d prefer it that one bad thing, or even just a peak hour wouldn’t destroy your work day and mean you have to prepare for an hour and ten, an hour twenty minutes of travel time.

“That seems excessive.”

He says if he starts work at 9am, he has to be on the bus by half past seven, just in case.

It was raining when the ABC joined Mr Stephens on his journey to work last week.

He says that means the trip will “absolutely” take longer than normal, and he’s right.

It takes an hour and 25 minutes, about 15 minutes longer than usual.

The bus moves quickly when it’s using its dedicated lane on the M2, but getting there can be a grind.


In a few months there’ll be another option.

The North West Metro will open, providing a driverless turn-up-and-go train service.

“I can’t wait for it to start,” Mr Stephens says.

“The North West Metro seems to be addressing a particular need that everybody has been crying out for 30, 40, 50 years.”

That transport project alone though, won’t influence his vote.

“I don’t really see it as a partisan issue,” he says.

“I see it as an issue that needed to be done.

“The fact that the Liberal Party did it is kudos to them they get a tick for that but it doesn’t really change my sense that Labor or Liberal would be more likely to do those kind of projects in the future.”

Hayley — ‘The squinter’


Hayley Hepburn calls herself a “squinter”.

That’s a commuter who drives from the west to the east each morning and looks into the sun.

“I’ve been a squinter now for 12 years, and for the whole 12 years its been awful,” she says.

She drives from her home in Kingswood, near Penrith, to her job in medical administration at Westmead Hospital using one of Sydney’s most talked about roads, the M4.

The 30-kilometre trip rarely goes to plan.

“If you’re going to be a squinter you’ve got to make sure you leave an hour and a half to get to work every morning,” she says.

“That’s three hours a day. That’s almost half a work day getting to the place where I earn minimum wage.”

Getting from A to B

With public transport dominating discussion in both city and the regions, what are the major parties offering to keep NSW moving?
Skip backPlayPauseSkip forward

Space to play or pause, M to mute, left and right arrows to seek, up and down arrows for volume.


She accepts living in Sydney comes with “some amount of congestion”, but says what she experiences is too much for someone who lives and works in the west.

“I feel like if you live in the CBD it might be the price you pay,” Ms Hepburn says.

“But I’m living in the outer western suburbs, way out west, the sticks.”

She doesn’t feel like the NSW Government has addressed congestion for western Sydney’s commuters.

“Nothing they’ve done so far has tickled my pickle,” she says.

“Yes OK, so they might have built two or three new roads, it’s not that impressive”.

She says transport infrastructure is an issue she’ll consider when she votes on March 23.

The M4 has made plenty of headlines recently.

The State Government has widened a section of the M4 between Parramatta and Homebush, as part of the WestConnex project.

It opened to traffic in mid 2017 and a toll was reintroduced, with commuters paying up to $4.56.

The rest of WestConnex will open in stages, starting this year — but it won’t help Ms Hepburn’s commute.

Geoff — ‘The happy commuter’


Geoff Martin is a “happy commuter”, and he would know, after catching Sydney’s trains for more than 30 years.

“A few times are trying,” the human resources executive says.

“But you just have to take a deep breath and remember it gets you from A to B for a reasonable cost.”

Mr Martin commutes from Dulwich Hill to the CBD every day.

The trip takes 30 minutes door-to-door, something he says is “pretty good” by Sydney standards.

“I usually just sit down, I’m crafty enough to get a seat and just do social media,” Mr Martin says.

Transport questions:

Transport has been a hot topic for people submitting questions as part of the ABC’s You Ask We Answer campaign.

Here are some examples:

  • Would Labor, if it won, continue the Metro Line project to its completion?
  • Will Labor if elected complete the Northwest Metro all the way to Bankstown or truncate it at Sydenham?
  • Why haven’t we got super fast rail to inland towns so that people can buy in say Bathurst, etc and still get to Sydney within 40 minutes?
  • Why isn’t there 24-hour public transport in Sydney like there is in every other major city in the world?


However, he also wants to see Sydney’s rail network improved.

The heavy rail Mr Martin takes to work has approval to be turned into a Metro system.

By 2024, there’ll be 66 kilometres of new Metro tracks in Sydney — something the NSW Government says will ease pressure on the current system.

“I’m really keen for the investment for the public that that goes ahead,” he says.

“Because we really do need a world-class line.”

If Labor wins on March 23, the Metro conversion in Mr Martin’s area will not happen.

“That’s a bit of a shock because I’m invested and excited for the Metro,” he says.

“Infrastructure is really important.”

Mr Martin is not sure if that difference in policy will influence his vote.

He, and the other three commuters have 29 days to decide.


Your contact info

We’ll be in touch if your question is chosen for investigation.

I don’t want my name and question to be published/shared

Yes, sign me up to ABC NewsMail






SYDNEY METRO $1.37bn Chatswood to Bankstown Contract Awarded

Sydney Metro $1.37bn Chatswood to Bankstown Contract Awarded



The NSW Government has selected CPB Contractors and UGL to deliver the line-wide works package for the Sydney Metro City & Southwest project, Australia’s biggest public transport project.

The contract of $1.37 billion will be an unincorporated joint venture of the two CIMIC Group companies and includes major rail systems in the new twin 15km Sydney Metro tunnels from Chatswood to Sydenham.

Contractors will also expand the existing Sydney Metro Trains Facility at Rouse Hill to accommodate 37 new trains.

The new Sydney Metro Trains Facility South at Marrickville will also be part of the contract, as well as tunnel ventilation, mechanical and electrical system work for seven underground stations, and 11 new substations to power the Metro from Chatswood to Bankstown.

Related: Sydney Central Station’s $955m Urban Transformation

Sydney Metro

31km of underground railway track to be laid in the twin railway tunnels from Chatswood to Sydenham.
This is the seventh Sydney Metro City & Southwest contract to be awarded with the budget ranging between $11.5 billion to $12.5 billion.“The project combines the proven rail-sector expertise within our construction company CPB Contractors and our asset solutions provider UGL to deliver an end-to-end result, covering design, construction and commissioning of the project,” CIMIC Group chief executive Michael Wright said.

CPB Contractors is currently delivering contracts on Sydney Metro City & Southwest and Sydney Metro Northwest, WestConnex M4E and New M5.

UGL’s work includes tunnel fit-outs for the Sydney Metro Northwest and Epping to Chatswood projects.

Works are due to commence this year between Chatswood and Bankstown.

A total of 66km of railway across the Sydney Metro City & Southwest project is scheduled to be delivered by 2024.

JOHN MENADUE. Sydney Metro: A Forty Billion Dollar Deception?



JOHN MENADUE. Sydney Metro: A Forty Billion Dollar Deception?


Like all our big cities, Sydney needs better public transport. The Government’s responsibility is to secure this with the best system, for the best price.

But as a minimum, new investments cannot be allowed to threaten the productivity and growth potential of our existing public transport system and its commuters.

Sydney Metro Rail is starting to show clear signs of failing us on all these counts.

The Royal Commission into Banking shows us how ‘official’ stories can change dramatically once confronted with a process where evidence can be compelled and witnesses protected.

On its first day in government after the next NSW election the new government should establish an enquiry into the developing rail mess.  

We are in great need of this process to publicly review Sydney’s mega transport projects – especially Metro Rail, a project which has cost perhaps more than $40 billion already, with no guarantees it won’t mutate into new phases costing further tens of billions.

The NSW government’s Metro asked us to believe it would do more, do it better, do it faster and safer than Sydney’s existing CityRail train system. Breezy statements like “just turn up and go, a train every two minutes” were thrown about.

On this basis, Metro tunnels were bored with diameters too small for current CityRail trains to use. Parliamentary debates pointing out the stupidity of this decision are on the Hansard record. Yet it went ahead anyway.

Metro’s network then expanded still further, at a cost of further unspecified billions, without any credible published scrutiny[i]. This second phase is now tunnelling under Sydney Harbour, possibly taking up the last viable under-harbour tunnel path for CityRail.

In so doing, it may have ‘forever stymie(d) major development of Sydney’s CityRail system’ – as warned explicitly by the eminent and independent Christie report on Sydney transport of 2010[ii].

Is this the price of success?

*Some of Metro’s shine is starting to wear off: promised service levels now appear less wonderful than first thought; costs have risen; delays and line closures will be more consequential than first anticipated; some all-important ribbon-cuttings won’t occur until after the next election. Metro users will still have to transfer to access the wider CityRail network.

Perhaps this is why the State Government has now changed tack to pushing out good news about the very CityRail system it is walling off with Metro.

Latest reporting talks up an $880 million CityRail train control system which can deliver ‘a train every two minutes or less’. The new system, the government enthuses, brings ‘Paris and London technology to CityRail’[iii].

This shift to talking up CityRail may just have given Metro’s game away.

Sydney’s CityRail has had a modern, automated train control system under trial for over a decade now[iv] – this development flowed from the special inquiry into the 2003 Waterfall train crash which killed 7 people. In 2014, the State authorised CityRail to pursue development of an even more advanced system[v] – the same sort of system Metro is to employ to achieve its much-vaunted ‘turn up and go’ service levels.

CityRail appears to have had a solution on trial all along to achieve Metro’s objectives for a lot less money and in a manner that would expand Sydney’s rail network – not hobble it. Published research suggests just as many if not more commuters might be moved by CityRail on this basis[vi].

Despite this, the State government appears to have agreed to Metro without any assessment of a competing CityRail business case, or even a quick scan of options.

It’s time for facts.

Perhaps  the NSW government just made a decision to ignore CityRail’s cheaper and possibly better solution for grubby ideological reasons: setting up a walled-off, standalone rail system to lock out organised labour and sell off to the banks later.

Perhaps CityRail’s potential was just never made plain to elected officials because of factional fights in the transport bureaucracy.

Perhaps our independent infrastructure advisories should have spoken up.

Perhaps there is some unreported technological flaw preventing CityRail from matching or bettering Metro claims.

As with the banks, only a properly-constituted inquiry will compel the truth.

The need for this inquiry goes beyond politics or academic curiosity: if we leave Metro unexamined, Sydney’s liveability and economic performance is at risk.

If heavy rail’s future functionality is imperilled by Metro, we must know that before we spend more billions pouring concrete and digging more little Metro tunnels. If not, we risk condemning our entire public transport network to deeper dysfunction which may prove vastly more expensive or even impossible to retrofit later.

A new government should authorise an inquiry into Metro and other secret mega-projects on its first day in power.

The same goes for the Commonwealth, which has already thrown billions of taxpayer money at this project, with no questions asked.

All major infrastructure projects should be examined against credible alternative solutions for delivering on agreed objectives well before the infrastructure club is allowed anywhere near the public chequebook.

Here are the written words of Gladys Berejiklian, the responsible Minister in her report in 2012 regarding the merits of Metro compared to upgrading and expanding CityRail:

(Metro) does not deliver significant benefits to the wider rail network’.

‘(Metro) would create a separate system that would divert funding away from service improvements on the existing rail network and only provide benefits to customers who use the new line’.

‘In the Sydney context an independent metro system would deliver few benefits in terms of service enhancement, capacity improvements or better operating efficiency on the existing rail network’.

‘A dedicated metro-style system would not maximise the use of the existing rail assets.’

Extract from page 24 of Sydney Rail Futures 2012 – foreword by then-Minister for Transport, the Hon Gladys Berejiklian P[vii] 

Members of the infrastructure club should keep their diaries free for this inquiry.

Infrastructure, both rail and road, is becoming an albatross around the neck of the NSW Premier and former Minister for Transport.


[ii] [ii]




[vi] Four whole years ago, ABC fact checker established that given the same service frequency and train control, the existing CityRail trains would move thousands more people an hour on the proposed Metro line than the new Metro trains.

Yet it appears no comparative business case was even assessed, much less published:





JOHN AUSTEN – Inquiry into Sydney Metro (Part 1)




JOHN AUSTEN – Inquiry into Sydney Metro (Part 1)


We are told Sydney Metro will overcome capacity constraints on Sydney’s rail network. 

This is false. 

Only a public inquiry can reveal the truth and advise on what to do.

This is the first of two articles following-up John Menadue’s call for a Sydney Metro inquiry.

It cites further evidence that Metro is:

  1. Inferior to Sydney trains;
  2. In the wrong place;
  3. Disastrous for Western Sydney.

A later article will deal with why an inquiry into these matters is needed, and what the inquiry should cover.

Metro is inferior to Sydney trains

While Sydney Metro is presented as ‘rapid transit’ it is not.  Most of its characteristics –

66km length, long distance between stations etc. – are not rapid transit.

Sydney Metro’s only rapid transit characteristic is few seats on trains.  This makes it very inferior to Sydney Trains for commuters.

The reasons given to the public for Metro boil down to a claim it can carry more people per line – sitting and standing – than Sydney trains.

It supposedly can run 30 trains per hour conveying 40,000 people compared with 20 Sydney Trains carrying 24,000 people.  This is said to reflect it’s 3 door single-deck carriages not needing as much station stopping time – dwell-time – as double-deck trains.

However, those claims are false.

Metro has a lower capacity per train which is not offset by its (theoretically) shorter dwell time.

Advice to NSW agencies was Sydney Trains lines today can carry more than 24,000 people per hour. If enhanced as announced by the State Government’s ‘Paris and London’ train control technology, Sydney Trains could run at least 24 trains per hour carrying at least people.  Some media reports implied it could run 30 trains – which might be able to carry over 52,000 people.

Metro is in the wrong place

Rapid transit systems e.g. in London and Paris are usually in central city areas.  Short journeys are typical and short distances between stations are what attracts the passengers as they don’t have far to walk to those stations.

Sydney Metro is largely in the suburbs. The routes are therefore longer, and trains on those routes require plenty of seats – more than Metro offers.

Moreover, at least some Metro routes are very problematic.

The North West route requires ‘conversion’ of a vital Sydney Trains line – Epping-Chatswood.  This substantially reduces existing network capacity and hamstrings new services to Western Sydney, including to Badgerys Creek airport.

Advice to NSW was scathing about the idea of a North-West Metro.

The South West route requires ‘conversion’ of another vital Sydney Trains line – to Bankstown.  The route was chosen over better candidates such as to Kingsford Smith Airport and Infrastructure NSW’s recommendation – towards Parramatta.

The route across the harbour and CBD may be an even bigger problem.   In 2010 Sydney’s most respected railwayman, Ron Christie AM, expressed deep concerns about whether the route undermines the entire rail network.

Disaster for Western Sydney

The real effects of Metro are neither tunnelling triumphs nor the rail and road chaos coming in the 7-month closure of the Epping-Chatswood line followed by ‘all-out all-change’ at Chatswood for several years.

The effects will hit Western Sydney.  The Western Sydney rail ‘plan’, developed by State and Commonwealth officials, argued for at least three different rail networks – for passengers to change between possibly 4 trains to get to Badgerys Creek airport – was a first indication.  The ‘City Deal’ which opted for the wrong rail connection to the airport was the next sign.

The NSW Transport Minister’s rejection of a $3bn gift for Western Sydney rail was another.  His reason – new passengers would ‘overwhelm’ inner parts of the network – confirms Metro is reducing the effectiveness of the existing network (conversion of the Epping-Chatswood line cuts effective capacity on Sydney Trains’ lines near the CBD) and disadvantaging Western Sydney.

Compared with this the high-profile problems of light rail – cost blow-outs, construction delays, litigation against the State by affected businesses and contractors, CBD traffic problems and loan guarantees to keep the project going – are minor!

Can the situation be recovered – say by Metro and other trains sharing infrastructure – as suggested by Infrastructure NSW?  It is not obvious how.

As John Menadue said, Sydney Metro tunnels are too small for the commuter fleet.  This echoes Paris’ 19th century small tunnel experience, the problems of which started to be addressed 60 years ago by bigger tunnels taking both metro and commuter trains – at tremendous cost.


Public evidence is Metro isn’t motivated by transport needs or demands. If lack of capacity on the existing network is a problem, why further reduce that capacity? Why the small tunnels?

An oft repeated view is that Sydney ‘needs’ rapid transit – but that is a ‘solution’ looking for a ‘problem’.  The evidence is that successive NSW Governments searched for a place to start Metro – to ‘play trains’ – in preference to assessing transport needs and ignoring Metro effects.

Sydney’s north-west was a political move – a rail link to that area was an ironclad election promise.  However, it is one of the worst places for Metro’s quasi-rapid transit; a mistake compounded by small tunnel sizes and inappropriate routes for extension.

The Sydney Metro ‘solution’ is exacerbating and creating new transport problems.  It will divide Sydney and lead to booming car use especially in the Western suburbs.It must be urgently addressed.

The next article will show why a public inquiry is needed to untangle this mess.

John Austen is a happily retired former  senior official of Infrastructure Australia  living in Western Sydney.   Details are at


Major test for Sydney’s transport network from Epping to Chatswood rail line closure

WHO could possibly believe this closure will be anything other than UTTER CHAOS?

BECAUSE “the bus interchange” is still under construction … looks like it will be another three months before it is operational!

PARKING is at a premium at Macquarie Park Shopping Centre/Business Park/University with time restrictions, fees and fines.

The 13-kilometre Epping-to-Chatswood line opened in 2009 was a marvellous boon to the Macquarie Park/Ryde area connecting one to all over Sydney …

THIS line was the latest in the Heavy Rail Network … the first to be pulled apart by the LNP!  

It won the Sulman Award, the prestigious public architecture prize in 2010

Australian Institute of Architecture New South Wales Awards  … an elegant and innovative integration of engineering and architecture!

WHEN in opposition the LNP in 2011 prior to the NSW Election proposed to pull it apart for the NWRL!


Major test looms for Sydney’s transport network from rail line closure


Gabby Fernandez’s daily commute from the St George area in Sydney’s south to Macquarie University in the north usually takes her 90 minutes.

After the Epping-to-Chatswood rail line is closed on Sunday for seven months, she expects it to take her at least two hours because she will have to switch from train to bus at St Leonards.

Arts student Gabby Fernandez expects her journey time from St George to Macquarie University to increase significantly.
Arts student Gabby Fernandez expects her journey time from St George to Macquarie University to increase significantly.Photo: Nick Moir

“I’m not going to drive. Parking here is a nightmare,” the first-year arts student said.

The temporary shutdown to allow the line to be converted to carry single-deck metro trains will be the biggest jolt to Sydney’s transport network since new bus timetables and routes in the CBD were put in place in 2015 ahead of the construction of the $2.1 billion light rail line.

The 13-kilometre Epping-to-Chatswood line opened in 2009 but will now become part of the $8.3 billion Sydney Metro North West line which will extend to Rouse Hill.


The closure will force up to 20,000 commuters a day to catch replacement buses or drive.

It will put pressure on already congested local roads, especially in and around Macquarie Park, and has required a rejig of timetables and services for the wider rail and bus networks.

The real test of the transport changes – and commuters’ patience – will come in just over two weeks on October 15 when students return from school holidays.

The real test will begin when students return from school holidays.
The real test will begin when students return from school holidays.Photo: Nick Moir

Transport Minister Andrew Constance encouraged the public to plan their trips, and avoid peak travel periods if they could.

“There are going to be some challenges in terms of congestion in and around the Macquarie Park precinct – everyone knows that,” he said.

“We are well prepared for those 20,000 commuters who will no longer have a passenger train service between Epping to Chatswood. Everyone needs to be aware of this change.”

As well as the university, Macquarie Park is home to the second-biggest business precinct in Sydney after the city centre. Large companies such as Optus, Sony and Microsoft have thousands of staff between them based at their offices there.

“We know it’s a congested part of the city now. We know that as a result of this closure people may opt for their cars. I would urge people to use public transport,” Mr Constance said.



Under the plans for alternative transport, a dedicated fleet of 124 pink-painted buses dubbed “Station Link” will run on seven routes at least every six minutes during peak periods.

They will include high frequency services from Epping train station to Macquarie University during semesters.

Mr Constance said people would need to allow for extra time of up to 20 minutes for their journeys but for some there would be reductions in travel times because of changes to the broader rail network.

The pink buses will replace trains during the seven-month shutdown.
The pink buses will replace trains during the seven-month shutdown.Photo: Nick Moir


The start of the line’s closure has been timed to coincide with the start of the school holidays, when traffic volumes are lighter, in a bid to iron out any problems.

Roads Minister Melinda Pavey said the completion of road works at Macquarie Park to improve traffic flows were running to schedule and she did not expect them to interfere with the shutdown.

“It has been a challenge getting all of that work done in time for this period,” she said.

Mrs Pavey said road officials would be keeping a close eye on major thoroughfares, and adjustments to the timing of traffic lights would be made to improve the flow of vehicles. Extra police would also be put on, and Station Link staff wearing distinctive pink clothing would be on hand to assist commuters adjust to the changes.

The impact of the shutdown will flow through to Sydney’s broader public transport network.

Trains that previously ran between Hornsby and Sydney’s CBD via Macquarie Park and the North Shore Line will be replaced by limited-stop services via Strathfield on the T1 Northern Line.

That means more trains will start or end at Central Station during peak periods, forcing commuters to switch trains if they intend to travel onto CBD stations such as Town Hall or Wynyard.

Matt O’Sullivan is the Transport Reporter for The Sydney Morning Herald.




SYDNEY METRO BILL VOTES … in the Lower House …


No automatic alt text available.


In the lower House, Wednesday 2nd May – and off to the upper House for its’ first reading the very same day.

Liberals/Nationals voted for this – including the part that would allow the Acquisition of private property for re-development.

Labor and Greens voted NO.


For extracts from Jodie McKay’s speech in response!





METRO BILL PASSED … screenshot of the Vote

No automatic alt text available.



May 2018

SCREEN SHOT of the vote – but as spread over two pages – unfortunately not all names of the noes are in the shot.

However, those who have voted contrary to the interests of the Sydney community – the AYES – are here on display!