Could Sydney be getting a new 80km metro line?

Posted: April 19, 2022 in Transport

A roughly 80km new metro line could eventually run from Epping to Schofields via Parramatta, Liverpool, the new Western Sydney Airport, and St Marys based on government plans announced as part of last month’s Commonwealth budget. Such a line, if built as suggested, would involve the conversion of the existing T5 Cumberland Line between Leppington and Merrylands to metro, plus extensions at either end from Leppington to the future Sydney Metro Greater Western Sydney at Bradfield in the South and from Merrylands to Epping via Parramatta in the North.

These plans are based on part of the budget which Federal Urban Infrastructure and Cities Minister Paul Fletcher described as the Commonwealth Government providing “$77.5 million for a business case for Stage 2 of the Sydney Metro – WSA line from Bradfield to Glenfield, via Leppington, which will connect the new $5.3 billion Western Sydney International (Nancy-Bird Walton) Airport when it opens”.

An extension from Leppington to Bradfield has been mooted for quite some time. The March 2018 Western Sydney Rail Needs Scoping Study stated “An extension of the existing line from Leppington to the Badgerys Creek Aerotropolis interchange, connecting with the North-South Link and East-West Link, would provide extra connectivity across the south-west. This South West Link from Leppington to the Badgerys Creek Aerotropolis interchange would cost up to $2 billion (2017 dollars)”. This was reinforced by the November 2020 Future Transport Strategy 2056 report, which illustrated (below) a future rail line incorporating the extension to Bradfield (then known as the Aerotropolis Core), but also a Northern extension to Epping via Greater Parramatta.

However, there were no hints at the time as to whether this would be an extension of the Sydney Trains network, or a conversion to Sydney Metro as happened with the Epping to Chatswood or Bankstown Lines.

Instead, it now appears as though this could initially be a metro line from St Marys to Glenfield, possibly within the next two decades. An extension from St Marys to Schofields via Marsden Park has been mooted for a number of years already. Meanwhile, conversion of the T5 Cumberland Line and extension to Epping requires some speculation.

One possible scenario could involve extending the current metro line from Bankstown to Liverpool then a short underground extension from Merrylands to Parramatta. This would provide interchange options for passengers at Glenfield, Liverpool, and Parramatta (as well as St Marys and Schofields). A simultaneous construction of an additional track between Cabramatta and Liverpool would allow T3 trains from Lidcombe to also continue through to Liverpool. The Parramatta terminus could then be extended further to Epping to complete the line. Were this to happen, then Sydney Metro West could feasibly also be extended from Bradfield South to Macarthur, originally planned as the Southern extension for the metro from St Marys to Bradfield.

An 80km metro line from Epping to Schofields would be long, but roughly the same distance as a currently planned metro line from Schofields to Liverpool (approximately 75km). It would also be a similar distance to a metro line from Macarthur to La Perouse (approximately 80km), which could be on the cards if such plans do become a reality.

However as stated earlier, at this stage this is purely speculation based on a single government announcement providing funding for a business case. In addition, with state and federal elections set to occur in the next 12 months and two changes of government being a real possibility, there remains the strong chance that this business case gets thrown in the bin, like many before it.

  1. It is generally agreed that Australia has to bring back manufacturing. That requires rail freight lines, not metros and definitely not in narrow tunnels. We also need cargo trams. Given the high oil prices and the permanent impact of the Ukraine war on Russian oil supplies (one of the 3 largest oil producers) the 2nd Sydney airport and with it the aerotropolis will not be viable. The whole transport policy is wrong

  2. Bob Masters says:

    The NSW Government needs to adopt the holistic, integrated, 100-year transport plan for NSW. The priorities could then be worked out accurately. Suggesting short-term, unconnected, isolated projects in the state, without considering all the alternatives, is still not working.

  3. JC says:

    It is great to see Western Sydney as the focus for development, but the proposals seem to make even worse the decisions to stop the Eastern Suburbs line at Bondi Junction and the Parramatta metro at Hunter Street (with only one poorly connected station in the CBD). They look less like metros and more like north American commuter railways.

  4. JC says:

    Still a complete mystery why not build the SW line one more stop to the airport terminal to get cheap and easy rail access to the airport from day 1, AND an airport to airport rail link. It seems to be deliberately setting up to fail.

  5. Ray says:

    The problem with linking the North-South metro line from St Marys to Bradfield (Aerotropolis) directly with a converted SWRL is that the North-South Line is being designed for 4 car trains only. An extended SWRL and South Line metro conversion to Epping via Parramatta will more likely require 8 car metro trains, so through running wouldn’t be feasible. I suspect that they will adhere to the original plan for a continuous North-South metro line from Schofields to Macarthur via WSA and the terminus for the SWRL metro extension will remain at Bradfield. That still leaves open the option of directly connecting with a future Metro West extension from Westmead, which could allow through running. It remains to be seen if the business case for the SWRL conversion stacks up, having regard to other alternatives and how it impacts on the broader rail network.

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