Metros come to the inner west

By now anyone interested in the future of public transport will most likely have made the trek up to Epping or Chatswood, and boarded one of those amazing fully automated driverless trains for the speedy trek along the first leg of the metro the network. Or if they haven’t, they really should!

We in the inner west still have to wait a little longer. Completion of the SW leg to Bankstown via Waterloo and Marrickville is still about 5 years off (2024), while the recently confirmed Metro West to Parramatta, although now “fast tracked” and partially funded, is scheduled to be operational in “the second half of next decade,” according to Transport Minister Andrew Constance. With stations at Bays Precinct, Five Dock, Burwood North and North Strathfield confirmed and trains every 4 minutes at peak times, this is line that will most radically change the way we move around the region. Goodbye 438 and 461 buses (but will anyone miss them?). 

Though  “turn up and go” metro services are familiar to people in other major world cities like London, NY and Paris, Sydneysiders have never experienced anything like this before. Our metro has the added advantage over those older systems familiar to travellers of using completely state-of-the-art technology, a true 21st century public transport system.

You wouldn’t know it from reading most of Sydney’s notoriously negative media or listening to the chorus of naysayers who pop up whenever anything new is planned, but the NW section which opened in May came in not only under budget, but became fully operational before its scheduled date. Tunnelling on the SW leg is making fast progress too, with the section from Waterloo to Marrickville already complete – without any of the fuss of the WestConnex tunnels, or, apparently anyone above ground even noticing. You can check out the dramatic footage of the mega borer nick-named “Nancy” slicing through a wall of rock and arriving at the site of Waterloo station here.

Alignment map detailing Sydney Metro projects

The map above shows the network as it is evolving, with the most likely (so far unfunded) extensions indicated by the grey doted lines. With both the State and Federal governments fully supportive, there are no longer any obstacles in the way of this mighty transformation in the way we move around the metropolitan area being completed. If there’s anything that will solve urban congestion and curb our over-reliance on fuel guzzling private vehicles, everyone agrees that fast, modern and efficient public transport plays a vital role. It’s less well-known however, that two of the major political parties representing inner west are not totally on board. Although NSW Labor agrees with fast tracking the West Metro, before the March election it wanted to scrap the Bankstown line altogether and terminate it at Sydenham. And the Greens, who have sitting MPs in the inner west, are opposed to metros anywhere. Balmain’s Jamie Parker organised protest meetings the last time one was proposed, and as a result, residents in his electorate have missed out on a new station. An interchange with the light rail at Lilyfield or North Leichhardt seemed entirely logical with the West metro’s underground route, however the trains will now zip between the Bays Precinct and Five Dock without stopping.

Sydney Metro’s facebook page is probably the best place for project updates, but their official website also has a wealth of information explaining this amazing project – including videos and interactive route maps. The future of the inner west is now just 5 years away.

Russell Edwards