Passenger Rail, Legal & Compliance, Major Projects & Infrastructure, Operations & Maintenance, Track & Civil Construction, Workforce

Sydney Metro facing major challenges

sydney metro

The New South Wales Government will carry out a comprehensive independent review into the whole Sydney Metro program, to determine how to salvage the current projects.

This  goes beyond the scope of last week’s announcement of a review of Sydney Trains’ rail infrastructure and systems, to be overseen by National Transport Commission chair Carolyn Walsh.

Premier Chris Minns said that upon taking office less than a month ago, it had become clear that the challenges facing the Sydney Metros “are major”.

“The Sydney Metro Program has been plagued by significant cost overruns and significant time delays,” he said.

The review, will be led by Mike Mrdak, an experienced public servant in the infrastructure, transport, regional development, communications and digital economy sectors.

He was a federal departmental secretary for more than a decade, including as head of the Infrastructure Department.

He will be joined by Amanda Yeates as the deputy chair. Yeates was previously the Deputy Director General, Department of Transport and Main Roads in Queensland, where she was responsible for the state’s infrastructure program.

Initial early briefings sought by the Government have revealed:

  • Sydney Metro West is estimated to cost $25.32 billion – a cost overrun of at least $12b.
  • Sydney Metro West is estimated to open in 2030 at the earliest – compared to initial Coalition government estimates of mid-late 2020s.
  • The estimated full cost of building Sydney Metro City and Southwest is at least $20.5b:
    • This is up to around $9b more than the initial estimated full cost.
    • This is at least $2b more than the price tag most recently touted by the former government.

The Sydney Metro Review will examine delivery models, project governance and passenger impacts and the best way to resuscitate Sydney’s major transport infrastructure pipeline.

The review will also thoroughly evaluate the delivery of Sydney Metro to date, the current state of progress against delivery targets and make recommendations for getting the maximum value out of the project, including looking at better land use, urban renewal and better integration with the wider transport network.

It will be undertaken with a view to determining how to deliver a fully integrated, safe, accessible and reliable public transport system, not just Sydney Metro.

The review team has been asked to deliver a preliminary report to help inform the 2023 Budget process, with a final report to be delivered by the end of 2023.

The Terms of Reference will be available on the Transport for NSW website.

“We said would be honest and upfront with the people of NSW about the true state of projects we inherited,” Minns said.

“We know we have significant challenges. This review is about assembling the right rescue team to come up with solutions to get literally get the metro projects back on track.

“We’re not interested in casting blame – we’re interested in finding solutions.”

Transport minister Jo Haylen said the government had inherited significant challenges on the Metro program and in transport.

“Given the significant investment in the Sydney Metro to date, and the importance of delivering improvements to the broader public transport system, an urgent independent review into the whole Sydney Metro project is appropriate and warranted,” she said.

Infrastructure Partnerships Australia chief executive Adrian Dwyer said it was sensible and prudent to take stock of a program of this scale, particularly with its importance within the broader network context.

“The Sydney Metro program is Australia’s biggest public transport build, that will have a profound impact on the way Sydney’s whole transport system works for decades to come,” he said.

“It’s important this infrastructure is delivered properly, with the right governance and laser-like discipline.

“NSW has the unique status as the lone state with two AAA credit ratings, and it’s important the Government is open to all solutions to maintain this status alongside an ambitious infrastructure pipeline.

“It is entirely possible to have fiscal discipline and a world class infrastructure program but it requires careful planning and absolute precision in delivery.”