The Western Sydney Airport line is a 23km-long driverless metro railway line that will connect the new Western Sydney International (Nancy-Bird Walton) Airport to Sydney’s rail network.
The new railway link project will primarily connect residential areas with major employment centres, including the new Western Sydney Aerotropolis project. It will also provide connectivity from the new airport to the rest of the public transport system.
The project is expected to deliver a fast, safe, and reliable metro, as well as support the future Western Parkland City, which covers the council areas of Liverpool, Campbelltown, Penrith, Hawkesbury, Camden, Wollondilly, Fairfield, and Blue Mountains in Australia. It will also shorten the travel time from St Marys to the Airport Terminal to 15 minutes and from St Marys to Aerotropolis to 20 minutes upon completion.
Initial construction work started in the fourth quarter (Q4) of 2020 while major construction work for the project such as station excavation began in late 2022. Completion of the project is expected in time for the opening of Western Sydney Airport in 2026.
The metro is expected to carry up to 7,740 passengers per hour in each direction and is set to reduce traffic by removing approximately 110,000 vehicles from the roads.
The link is also predicted to create 14,000 jobs during its construction phase, including 250 new apprenticeships, thereby contributing to the local economy.
Western Sydney Airport line development
The Sydney Metro-Western Sydney Airport project was formerly known as the Sydney Metro Greater West and North South Rail Link.
The project forms a major part of the Western Sydney City Deal, which is a 20-year agreement signed by the Australian and New South Wales (NSW) governments, and eight Western Sydney councils in March 2018. The development of the first stage of the Sydney Metro-Western Sydney Airport line is part of the deal.
An online survey was conducted in July 2020 to gather insights from the community on the usage of the new metro service.
The environmental impact statement was made available for public feedback between October and December 2020.
The NSW Government granted its planning approval for the project in July 2021 while the Australian federal government granted the final approval for the project in September of the same year.
Western Sydney Airport line details
The driverless metro will serve the Western Parkland City, which includes the new Western Sydney International Airport and Badgerys Creek Aerotropolis.
The line will also have the provision of a northward extension to Schofields to connect to the Richmond railway line, and southward to the Main Southern railway line near Macarthur.
The railway line will run through a tunnel from St Marys to the south of the M4 Motorway, and from Oran Park to the Main South Line near Macarthur.
Planning for a business case to extend the line from Western Sydney Aerotropolis to Glenfield via Leppington commenced in June 2022. The final business case for the extension plan is expected to be completed in 2024.
Western Sydney Airport line stations
The proposed railway line will have six new metro stations including St Marys, Orchard Hills, Luddenham, Western Sydney International Business Park, Western Sydney International Airport Terminal, and Western Sydney Aerotropolis.
St Marys station will be an important part of the project as it will serve as an underground interchange station, which will connect passengers to other parts of Sydney through the existing Sydney Trains rail network.
Orchard Hills station will service a future mixed-use urban village while the station at Luddenham will offer transport links for future education, innovation, and commercial areas.
The airport site will have two stations, including one at the airport’s integrated international and domestic terminal and the other at the airport business park.
The project includes the design and construction of 9.8km of twin tunnels and excavations for stations at Orchard Hills, Airport Terminal, St Marys, Aerotropolis, and service facilities at Bringelly and Claremont Meadows.
Western Sydney Airport line construction details
TBM Marlene and TBM Catherine commenced excavation of a 4.3km-long metro tunnel from Orchard Hills to St Marys.
The excavation of 5.5km-long tunnels from the Airport Business Park to the Aerotropolis is being carried out using TBM Eileen and TBM Peggy.
In September 2023, TBM Peggy completed the first leg of excavation to the Aerotropolis. It is expected to commence excavation at the Aerotropolis station site in 2024.
The foundation of the Stabling and Maintenance Facility located south of Blaxland Creek and east of the Sydney Metro alignment was also completed.
The Sydney Metro-Western Sydney Airport line is being funded jointly by the federal and state governments on an equal basis under the Western Sydney City Deal.
The construction of the project will require a total investment of approximately A$11bn ($7.42bn). In April 2019, the federal government announced a contribution of A$3.5bn for the delivery of stage one in the 2019-2020 budget. The funding includes A$50m for the business case process of the project and A$61m for the Elizabeth Drive overpass.
The Australian and NSW governments approved another A$3.5bn in funding to support the construction of the project in June 2020.
Aurecon is assisting Transport for NSW in the identification of rail corridors for the metro rail project. It provided a draft strategic environmental assessment of the impacts and benefits of developing future public transport infrastructure at the proposed project site.
A joint venture (JV) of consulting companies AECOM and WSP has been appointed as the planning approvals contractor.
A partnership comprised of HKA, a consultant, and SNC-Lavalin, a professional services and project management company, and Infrastructure Nation, another consulting company, is the integration and delivery partner for the project.
Australian construction company CPB Contractors, in a JV with Italian excavation and tunnelling services provider Ghella, received a contract worth A$1.8bn from the NSW Government for the Western Sydney Airport line project in December 2021. The JV is responsible for the design and construction of 9.8km of twin tunnels and station excavations
CPB Contractors in a JV with United Infrastructure was awarded the surface and civil alignment works contract in March 2022. The scope of the contract includes the construction of 10.6km of the above-ground section of the project comprising embankments, cuttings, viaducts, and bridges, apart from earthworks.
Parklife Metro, a consortium comprising Plenary Group, Siemens Mobility, Webuild, and RATP Dev, was awarded the stations, systems, trains, operations, and maintenance (SSTOM) contract package for the project in December 2022.
The contract includes the delivery of six new stations, core rail systems, rolling stock, and a workshop facility at Orchard Hills for the stabling and maintenance of trains. The package also includes the operations and maintenance (O&M) of the metro line and its assets for 15 years. RATP Dev will provide O&M services for the new railway line.
As part of the SSTOM contract, Siemens Mobility is responsible for the supply, integration, testing, and commissioning of 12 fully automated, driverless three-car metro trains, a purpose-built depot, and digital rail infrastructure such as signalling, electrification, telecoms, and platform screen doors. The company is also responsible for the trains and rail infrastructure. The contract scope also includes 15 years of maintenance.
A JV of SMEC, an engineering, management and development consultancy, and Arup, a professional services business, was contracted to provide design services for the project.
Ashurst, an international law company based in the UK, advised the Parklife Metro consortium on its bidding process for the SSTOM contract related to the project. MinterEllison, another legal adviser, was appointed to advise Sydney Metro and the NSW Treasury on the SSTOM contract.
Built, a general contractor based in Australia, was selected to build a new four-storey project office at the St Marys metro station site, in December 2022.
Hassell, an architect, Richard Crookes Constructions, a construction company, Bamser, an infrastructure adviser, North Star, a consultant, Wagners, a construction materials provider, and engineering consultants FJA and BG&E are some of the other contractors involved in the project.