Archives: CBD Metro / West Metro (2009)


Five years ago, planning and infrastructure of transport projects in Sydney was in chaos. With a change of premiers, a proposal for a rapid transit line from the CBD to the North West via the Victoria Road corridor known as the North West Metro or SydLink was scrapped due to a leadership struggle within the Labor Party and a powerful union movement preventing the sale of state owned assets for proposed infrastructure projects.

With Iemma gone and Rees in, the NSW Government put forward a massive transport investment for a new metro network starting with the CBD Metro servicing Rozelle, Pyrmont and the CBD and a second stage to Westmead via the Parramatta Rd corridor said to be “shovel ready” as soon as the first stage was completed. Since announcing the plan it was meet with large criticism due to the areas it serviced being already serviced with a range of frequent transport options, land acquisitions including the demise of the former West Tigers club, patronage figures including a force transfer of Victoria Road buses, transparency of the project and growing need for transport infrastructure in Western Sydney. By the time Rees faced his own axe, the project had already progressed with design documentation, land buyouts and pre-construction drilling and had cost according to sources $500 million with the cost forwarded to taxpayers and not from the federal government’s infrastructure program by the Rudd Government due to it not being part of an overall transport plan. The project was scrapped after Kristina Keneally announced her transport plan in 2010 and Sydney’s dream of a metro came to an end until the revision of the under construction North West Rail Link from heavy rail to rapid transit.

Overall the project’s biggest issue was where the demand was needed. If the metro had a more viable feasible route like the ANZAC Metro or a Second line to Chatswood via a new tunnel, the project could have been more viable but with the government at the time already in jeopardy from a powerful union, it basically turned it into a more of a bad hangover with a big bill at the end.

Below is a selection of archived reports and media releases of the project from the former project website. You can also check out the Four Corners episode “Off the Rails” from 2009 which examined the project in further detail.


Did ‘Fixing the Trains’ really fix the trains?

In May 2012, Gladys Berejiklian announced ‘Fixing the Trains’ a one off transport revolution to fix the growing problems within RailCorp and the running of the rail network in general. Two years have passed and Fixing the Trains seems to have concluded and now be replaced with a Customers First initiative shown on all new media releases from this year. So after two years of organizational and a business culture change, was it all really worth it at the end and did Fixing the Trains really fix the trains. We take a look back at all the changes from May 2012 to the end of 2013.

We begin in Feb 2012 where at the time RailCorp required $3.7 billion a year[1] to survive and faced rising organisational costs. That’s a lot compared to other rail organisations around the world that run more larger and dense networks for much less the cost. At the time, unless there was major reform the system would collapse with you and me forking the bill. David Callahan, the former CEO of Sydney Ferries was to lead the reform.

In May 2012, Gladys Berejiklian announced at Central Station ‘Fixing the Trains’[2] which involved three major changes to the existing running of the rail network. Firstly, splitting RailCorp’s running of the rail network into two organisations, Sydney Trains and NSW Trains (operating as NSW Trainlink) and leave RailCorp in charge of rail fleet and asset management bit like VicTrack. A few internal changes were also announced including a Customer Service Division and other functions of RailCorp moving to Transport for NSW. Also, a new division – Transport Cleaning Services was created to manage the cleaning of rail fleet. The announcement was also highlighting numerous problems with RailCorp itself including “Red Tape holds up Cleaning Pole” and the past problems of implementing a new uniform at CityRail in 2008.[3] The other major change was within RailCorp itself. RailCorp was sent to the shearers with every top and middle management job under review. As well, RailCorp existing transit officers were also scrapped in favour of a small Police Transport Command force and Transport Officers.[4] By the end, the cost was 750 voluntary redundancies with the correct number uncertain.

In June 2012, the NSW Government released “Sydney’s Rail Future’[5], a new transport plan for the rail network calling for major changes since the previous transport plan released by Kristina Keneally in 2010. The big change was the reintroduction of rapid transit starting with the North West Rail Link, a future second harbour crossing and extension to Cabramatta via Bankstown and Hurstville. Despite being the first rail-centric plan for Sydney since 1995, the plan drew criticism based on the force interchange at Chatswood, capacity constraints[6], single deck trains and tunnel changes. Sandy Thomas, a member of the Sydney Morning Herald’s 2009–10 Independent Public Inquiry into a Long Term Public Transport Plan for Sydney recommended in “1855 Revisited”[7] for Gladys Berejiklian to “veto the lunatic attempt by her bureaucrats to quietly create a multiple “loading gauge” rail network in Sydney through the specification of unnecessarily small and steep tunnels on the North West Rail Link.”.

Other initiatives were introduced till the end of 2012 as part of the Fixing the Trains program. In August 2012, all rail staff on the Eastern Suburbs and Illawarra Line were sent to radio school[8]  to learn “best way to deliver clear, consistent and accurate announcements to customers. “  and the trial of Quiet Carriages on some Intercity services was made a permanent feature on all lines.[9]

Blue Mountains services were extended to Bathurst and additional services on some lines were added to the October 2012 timetable[10] and platform marshalling[11] otherwise known today as a Fast Track Platform was announced starting at Town Hall. In November 2012, RailCorp’s existing maintenance services in Bathurst, Strathfield and Taree were accessed for private sector management[12] and the Taree Beradze business was shut due to low demand for timber sleepers resulting in 5 redundancies. As well, more details of the Fixing the Trains initiatives[13] were announced for Sydney Trains and NSW Trains including accessing the performance of assisting customers, consolidation of small maintenance depots into larger “centres of excellence” and better WHS practises.

However one big announcement that came at the end of August was the worldwide search for the new CEO of Sydney Trains and NSW Trains[14]. You beg to ask, who in their right mind would take on the massive job of fixing and outdated and struggling rail network in NSW? In May 2013, Howard Collins who has worked for the London Underground for 35 years and was the current CEO who received an Order of the British Empire for his running of the network during the 2012 London Olympics became Mr Fix-it and took on the position as Sydney Trains CEO[15]. Howard Collins said: “There was a time when everyone spoke negatively about the Tube, until customers started to experience real change. Reliable services, safe and clean trains and stations, good real time information, and visible and proactive staff who are empowered to fix problems they encounter there and then – that’s how we turned around perceptions in the UK. Those are the areas we’ll be focusing on at Sydney Trains.”[16] The current head of RailCorp, Rob Mason became the CEO of NSW Trains.[17]

Fixing the Trains was carried on into the new year. In February 2013, real time data was to became available for the first time with three apps (now six) commissioned to use the data[18] and Real time data was launched in April on most lines with the rest of the network to follow in the coming weeks[19] In April 2013, the $790 million Kingsgrove to Revesby Quadruplication was opened which began under the former government but with a budget blowout and not opening at its projected finish date.[20] Also, mobile coverage was available for the first time at underground platforms within the City Circle with the ESR soon to follow (in 2014).[21]

In April 2013, Gladys Berejiklian announced at Central Station with some fanfare the introduction of a new uniform for Sydney Trains and NSW Trains staff as well as the announcement of ‘The Hop’ transport branding. Seen as a visual to era in a new changing culture in the railways, the uniforms caused criticism by some staff and the unions with the absence of shorts and at one time mandatory skirts[22][23]. The new logo also got criticised for its cost and its remembrance to a sports organisation.[24] Clinton Duncan of the branding blog Brand New said “Perhaps when a designer or agency is faced with the prospect of seeing their work on signage, vehicle livery, and a myriad of other places, every day, they go that extra mile to make sure it’s something they can be proud of. Or at the very least ensure it doesn’t suck.”[25]

In April 2013, Gladys Berejiklian announced $60 million into eight new maintenance centres of excellence [26]and four satellite sites to replace 130 disjointed maintenance depots to reduce maintenance costs and follow a successful initiative previously done by Metro Trains Melbourne. A number of additional initiatives were also announced before the launch of Sydney and NSW Trains including the roll-out of the Waratah trains[27], a $3.5 million cleaning blitz on carriages and trains[28], increased presence of the Police Transport Command to stop graffiti[29] and seating configuration trials on some Tanagra carriages[30].

July 2013 arrives and CityRail and CountryLink are no more. The L7 logo is retired after more than 40 years and two new rail operators[31][32] start operating since the last major rail organisational change in 2004. As Gladys Berejiklian puts it “Sydney Trains is not RailCorp in disguise”. Other major changes since the introduction of Sydney Trains and NSW Trainlink included the re-introduction of bins, a Ÿ First Impressions Count initiative, New electronic departure screens and other smaller changes.[33]

Like 2012, Other initiatives were introduced till the end of 2013 as part of the Fixing the Trains program. The largest one being the 2013 Timetable[34] to restore cuts made from 2005[35] and commission completed projects as part of the Rail Clearways program. As much as timetable introduced extra services and a new T numbering system, the timetable still attracted criticism on the Inner West cuts[36] and changing stopping patterns.[37] The removal of timetable posters at stations also received criticism.[38]

Other changes included changes to XPT maintenance[39], expansion of the Fast Track platform[40], new track maintenance machines[41] and new advertising contracts.[42]. By the end of 2013, the rail network was able to cope with the International Fleet Review[43] and by 2014, Sydney Trains experienced strong performance [44] since the change in July. Fast forward to today and ‘Fixing the Trains’ is gone, now replaced with ‘Customers First’, a new program to “deliver benefits to customers”.

So after two years of change, did Fixing the Trains really do anything? The answer is mixed depending on how you look at it. On one side, yes Fixing the Trains did something that no government has ever embarked in NSW for the past 30 years and that was end the mismanagement and problems within the rail network and make the organisation run more like as successful business to provide a service/utility to the public. It also changed the business culture and made staff feel more proud of where they worked, it was a sign of a new start, remove past failures and start a new page.

On the other hand, a majority (mainly commuters) saw Fixing the Trains as a mere political slogan rather than actual reform. Not all initiatives were forthcoming with many hammered down with criticism from unions, the opposition, transport advocate groups and commuters themselves with many coming to a conclusion of ‘no hope’ for the rail network. Two major changes, the North West Rail Link and the 2013 Timetable still attract major criticism today with some wanting to roll back the changes. As well, a majority of commuters still see the current problems that affect the rail network before the changes; late and crowded trains, dirty carriages and lack of information.

Whatever may you see it, it’s nothing going to be fixed tomorrow and both sides of the argument agree on that phase entirely. So long as there is an increase in funding and its going where it’s needed most, we will get to see a much better rail network in Sydney that for the first time can act like the first choice of travel rather than the last choice. Till then, it was something.














































Transport Recap: Late June/Early July 2013

Disclaimer: Sorry for lack of posts, work is to blame.

Sydney Trains and NSW Trainlink

July 1 came and went and Cityrail and Countrylink are gone. However, it only takes a few seconds at any station to see remands of old signage, posters and uniforms but all of these will be replaced in due time.

Seating Trial

I personally like the 2 seats on each side rather to the Europe style seating. Regardless, both have been proven to reduce delays of getting off the train due to the extra space

Costs up, service down on Sydney trains

Of course costs are up, notice a re-brand happening on the rail network as well as some fancy new signs? It’s basically the Gladys ‘remove anything Cityrail’ campaign.

More Quiet Carriages

Big thumbs up with the new stickers on trains that actually show the carriage as a quiet carriage unlike before when most passengers were clueless on what carriages were a quiet carriage or not. Still, quiet carriages are enforced through the curiosity of everyone and not  regulated by NSW Trainlink staff.

Real time Transport update

Real time information has now arrived for Busways Blacktown and Newcastle Buses via Transport apps but for some strange reason the Carlingford Line and Waterfall Station can not access real time information. Strange?


And lastly, the transport mode… scratch that. The tourist attraction known as the Monorail had it’s final run on the 30th of June. A day which I mark as the end of a useless transport mode which was outdated, poorly managed and a metaphor of the NSW Labor transport network

Cityrail – The Brand we loved to hate

From July this year, one of Sydney’s most known and loathed brands will no longer exist. Since the launch of the brand in 1988, the Cityrail brand has been a household name of Sydney’s rail network taking up to 1.5 million passengers per year. Cityrail has been praised for its operations during the 2000 Sydney Olympics and been mocked, ridiculed and loathed by much of Sydney as well as outsiders by its poor performance issues, dirty and broken trains, poor signage and the classic cases of trains not running at all. In this post, I’ll look back at what made Cityrail become the brand we loved to hate.

“Riding on The Sydney System”


We begin in 1987 with the then State Rail Authority of NSW were faced with continuous problem of poor performance and rising financial problems. The SRA also faced the problem of distinguishing its suburban network with its regional one. During the time, StateRail was the brand used for all of NSW’s train network and the only way the two networks were separated was a blue and white L7 logo similar to the Urban Transit Authority logo used on the suburban fleet and a red and yellow L7 logo and candy livery on intercity trains and coaches.

In 1987, the SRA presented a new brand for the suburban rail network to be known as ‘The Sydney System’. The blue and white L7 logo was replaced with the red and yellow one and the name become standard on all SRA timetables, posters and other publications. The SRA also created television commercials to highlight the change including one amusing one of a passenger telling the driver to slow down his C set due to the train being too quick. Despite the publicity of the Sydney System, the brand never took off. The brand name itself was too long for the average commuter to remember and at the time, nobody was referring to catching a train on ‘The Sydney System’ but using the StateRail operator instead. The brand itself was also confusing as it presented itself as a generic brand for all Sydney’s transport modes, rather than the suburban rail network itself. Overall, the brand only lasted 1-2 years.

“Train’s the way to go, yeah train’s the way to go”


On the 17th October 1988 following months of reform of the StateRail organisation, three new business groups were developed to distinguish the rail network yet again. Cityrail was used for suburban and intercity routes, the Countrylink brand was used for regional rail and coaches and the Freightrail brand was used for freight network at the time run by StateRail before privatisation. Unlike the failure of ‘The Sydney System’, the Cityrail (and Countrylink) brands were more recognisable and both were promoted throughout the network. The Cityrail logo used the classic L7 now with a blue and yellow look and the red and orange logo was only retained for StateRail organisation only. Trains were repainted and the candy livery was removed. Throughout the late 80s and early 90s, stations were painted to bring out a new bright red feel, signage was updated at nearly all stations with new white station signs and blue directional signage. Timetables also ditched the old network map cover look and used photos to show highlights of the rail network and the recent improvements and upgrades. Cityrail also used slogans to promote the new brand empathising the ‘train’ brand such as ‘Train’s the way to go’ (1994), Train yourself to save money (1994) and Keep training Sydney (2001). They also used media to promote the rail network using refurbished stations such as Central and Eastwood at the time. Despite the cuts on StateRail in the 1990s, the brand succeeded in separating the suburban network with the regional one but the network itself was in no state of full reform but it was the organisation in 2000 that changed Sydney’s rail network completely.


Can Cityrail win the Olympics?


In 2000, Sydney played host to what was the then the best Olympic Games ever, but no Olympics would be great without a functioning transport network which became Staterail and Cityrail’s biggest challenge. From 1994, StateRail would develop massive reform in the running of the rail network to meet with the demand in 2000. A integrated transport authority was set up for the first time in Sydney to manage the network as a whole and rail upgrades commenced across the network. Cityrail changed it’s timetables to run all nights and some intercity routes were replaced with buses to increase demand to Olympic Park.
StateRail also conducted tests of rail performance and delivery during the 1998 and 1999 Easter shows to Olympic Park and a massive campaign by the Department of Transport was promoted under the brand ‘Discover Public Transport, Together we will get you there’ . The Olympics came and went and with the hard work from 1994, Cityrail ran with no hiccups and played its part in transporting visitors to venues. Cityrail never looked better.

Cityfail – Slow, Unpredictable, Outdated


Throughout the 2000s, the once rail network that achieved the impossible became to crumble from the inside. Lack of funding both from the NSW Labor Government at the time as well as federal funded projects turned a world-class network into a third-world one. After the Olympics, StateRail’s assets of track and signals were transported to a new Rail Infrastructure Corporation. This led to widespread frustration as a delay can turn into a tennis match of blame between StateRail and the RIC. With no resolution, the State Rail Authority was dissolved and replaced with Railcorp to reform the network but the problems only got worse. In 2002, timetable changes let to to start of cutting of timetabled services and the M-set was delivered 3 years late. By 2004, after the events of the Waterfall disaster, trains were running 60% on time. In a cowardly display by the Transport department in 2005 to put any money into rail infrastructure, most of Cityrail’s timetabled services were cut and projects delayed.

In 2006, the Rail Clearways program was announced to untangle the bottlenecks in the rail network and build new turnbacks and platforms to improve rail running. Today only some of the projects were ever built with most cancelled in the 2008 Budget or scaled back. In 2007, the proposed integrated ticketing Tcard system was cancelled due to breaches in the contract. In 2009 after constant delays, the Epping to Chastwood Rail Link was opened late, over budget and only ran half of the proposed route in 1998. By 2011, infrastructure was so outdated that entire lines were suspended due to signal failures or trespassing. After these events, new names were created to mock Cityrail such as ShittyRail, Cityfail and FailRail. The Cityrail brand became tarnished.


The start of something better?


In 2012, after the formation of a new integrated transport authority Transport for NSW and months of reviews into transport running in NSW, the NSW Liberal Government announced two new operators; Sydney Trains and NSW Trains (running as NSW Trainlink) would replaced Railcorp with all planning to be transferred to TfNSW. From July, the Cityrail brand will no longer be, replaced with new ‘Hop’ Promotional Material, Sydney Trains logos and uniforms and a new timetable in October retuning up to 700 new services for Sydney. But after years of neglect and poor maintenance, Sydney’s rail network is on a slow course for improvement. Sydney has not had a lot of rail name changes unlike Melbourne but whether the name, hopefully this time Sydney’s rail network can not only reach the standards set in 2000 but achieve better.

Featured Comments: Fixing the Trains 1 year on


The best (and worst) comments | Story

You know what..who cares seriously what’s going to change? The state govt has no money the rail networks have had no money invested in 10 want it to change in a year..give me a break. People in this city need to stop complaining and accept the fact our rail system is crap and won’t be fixed overnight. Please stop writing stories on the train delays and write about something else – Matthew

Waddayamean “mess”? Gladys is buying a pile of new signs with pretty Ts and Bs for everyone who’s too stupid to tell a bus stop from a train station. That’ll fix it. – ANDY of Haberfield Heights

Yes, there should be a fare free day Gladys, ultimately it was YOUR workers who let down YOUR customers, it would seem only fair that they, the customers be compensated. BUT it’s time also for the customers to understand that after 16 long years of incompetence from the Labor government, things are not going to be fixed overnight. Maintenance needs to be done, the work needs to be done in an efficient and timely manner and maybe it’s time that those effecting that work, worked in some ‘fat’ to those work schedules to ensure that should any problems arise there is enough time schedule to allow for those problems to be fixed. Otherwise you are going to just keep on repeating the past.- Tracey

Fare free day. How typical ALP. No wonder government budgets are in deficit. Why do these union hacks always insist on getting something for nothing? The trains are deplorable and I wouldn’t vote Libs but how could anyone vote ALP when King of the freebies , Robbo, is the Leader? – Disillusioned of Penshurst

I was on a train that took 2 hours to get from Fairfield to Wynyard, this is inexcusable, very poor this is a bad reflection on this country and where its priorities lie, this does not happen in cities like London and New York, why not delay navy ships ‘saving’ asylum seekers and/or centrelink payments I am sure that would not go down to well. Australia, NSW governments look after the workers not the bludgers, we deserve to be rewarded not treated like criminals. – Dee of Sydney

Theory: Sydney’s Rail Line Classifications

EDIT: This is confirmed as shown on the new timetables. Revised numbers are shown below


After the spotting of a “T1″ symbol at Milsons Point Station (then temporary replaced with Platform numbers then afterwards restored), it looks like the current rail lines in Sydney will be classified with Metro-like symbols or in this case starting with a T (for Train ‘duh’) then the Number of that particular line. This is my prediction of what the lines will be classified as before the 2013 timetable announcement (I’ve tried to keep at single digits):

Revised in accordance with official maps

  • T1: North Shore Line, Northern Line and Western
  • T2: Airport, Inner West and South
  • T3: Bankstown Line
  • T4: Illawarra and Eastern Suburbs Line
  • T5: Cumberland Line
  • T6: Carlingford Line
  • T7: Olympic Park Line


Week in Transport | 23-29th March

When The Hop met Telstra

New Hop signage has been spotted around Milsons Point but currently only half of the station has been upgraded. This may be due to a ‘future’ advertising campaign to ring in the new name as a replacement for the well known ‘Cityrail’ brand . Also the new signage has been met with some criticism, due to lack of information on station signs, font choice and poor colours especially with the way out signage as i witnessed.

Huntleys Point Wharf opens to not all passengers

After 6 months, the new wharf opened to the public but has missed out on some key improvements such as being wheelchair accessible to the street and no improvements to the already dead ‘interchange’ that serves no buses.

Weekend Clearways to clear weekend congestion

Extending clearways on main roads on the congestion is a much needed move as most people use cars to commute on weekends when transport is (slowly) improving .