IA approves Sydney Metro City & Southwest business case

Sydney Metro at Campsie. Artist's impression: Transport for NSW

Infrastructure Australia has promoted the Sydney Metro City & Southwest project to its High Priority Project list.

The list, which was updated on July 24, now has eight High Priority Projects, and twelve Priority Projects, along with dozens of other projects with less-progressed, “initiative” ratings.

Sydney Metro City & Southwest is the second phase of the Sydney Metro project. It will extend the Sydney Metro Northwest rail line from Chatswood to Bankstown, via new stations on the lower North Shore and the CBD.

The project’s business case, evaluated by Infrastructure Australia, calculated a benefit-cost ratio of 1.3 (i.e. $1.30 of economic returns for every $1 invested). When wider economic ‘city shaping’ benefits are also included, the project’s BCR increases to 1.7.

“Sydney Metro City & Southwest is an important step in ensuring that Sydney remains a competitive, global city and an attractive place to live and work,” Infrastructure Australia chief executive Philip Davies said.

“The strategic merit of this project lies not just in its ability to increase Sydney’s productivity and rail network capacity but its potential to reshape the urban profile of the city. The project will enable higher density residential development along the rail corridor; providing more direct and rapid connections between where people live and work.”

Davies said the positive assessment of the project’s business case reflects it is a “sound” investment for Sydney.

The Infrastructure Australia business case says the project is necessary to stop Sydney’s CBD rail network from extreme overcapacity.

“The rail network servicing Sydney’s CBD is currently near capacity at peak periods, and some key routes are expected to reach capacity in the early 2020s,” the business case says. “By 2036, demand is expected to exceed network capacity, causing material impacts on service accessibility, dwell times, and crowding on stations and trains.”

The business case says the complexity of Sydney’s rail network around the CBD constrains the utilisation of individual lines, and complicates operations.

“Transport for NSW is addressing operational constraints through timetabling changes where possible, and a medium-term plan to further untangle parts of the network,” the business case says.

“However, in spite of these operational improvements, the capacity of the rail network will remain constrained.”

A consortium of John Holland, CPB Contractors and Ghella won the NSW Government’s $2.81 billion tunnelling contract for the second stage of the Sydney Metro urban rail project in June.

The contract is one of seven major contracts to make up the project, which is expected to cost between $11.5 billion and $12.5 billion in total.

1 Comment

  1. Logically the Bankstown service would fit the Metro model – route length and station spacing is comparable to the ‘benchmark’ metros worldwide (moreso than the North West!), but it doesn’t look so good when future conversion of the rest of the Bankstown line extends the Metro to Liverpool. Other ‘inner’ suburban services would also seem suitable – Bondi Junction to Hurstville, Revesby to City, Lidcombe to City, Hornsby via North Shore.
    But before converting any existing line, why isn’t the government looking at reducing ‘dead’ demand on existing city services – people for whom the city is not the destination but a transfer point?
    Sydney is a sprawling group of large suburban centres – Parramatta is the “second CBD” / “CBD of Western Sydney”, North Sydney – Chatswood corridor and the Macquarie Park area are major business areas, lesser business areas exist in the St George area and others. Jobs are spread far and wide, housing is spread far and wide, but this metro scheme, including the proposed western Metro, are still focussed on getting everyone to and from the Sydney CBD. The Parramatta Rail Link (of which only the Chatswood – Epping portion was built) was supposed to start addressing that, by allowing people to get from the West to the North without having to go through the CBD.
    But cross-urban transport is left to buses and private cars, with major cross-urban arterials almost at standstill before 7am. The ‘Metrobus’ routes offer high frequency services during peaks, but they crawl in the traffic. A peak hour M41 from Hurstville to Macquarie Park is timetabled for 2 hours to cover 30km route (21km as the crow flies); the M91 between Hurstville and Parramatta (20km straight line) is similarly almost 2 hours for 32km route; the M92 from Sutherland to Parramatta (24km straight line, 36 route km) is quicker at 1h45 by virtue of a more direct route that includes 4km of motorway and several stretches with no bus stops. Catching a citybound train and changing at Redfern or Central saves about half an hour between Sutherland and Parramatta, and an hour between Hurstville and Parramatta, but takes capacity on the peak hour City service. Getting cross-urban rapid transit public transport into a dedicated corridor would reduce demand on services to/from the Sydney CBD.