Sydney rail network capacity

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Sydney rail network capacity

Sydney rail network capacity
Early-stage proposal (Stage 1)
Sydney, NSW
Fast-growing cities
Efficient urban transport networks
Problem/Opportunity timeframe
Near term (0-5 years)
Proposed By
NSW Government
Date added to the IPL
26 March 2018


Rapid growth in demand for rail transport in the Sydney Basin is leading to passenger crowding and displacement on major parts of the Sydney rail network. Demand for rail trips in Greater Sydney increased significantly from 300 million trips in 2015, to 420 million trips in 2018 — an average of 7.6% growth each year.

Current forecasts predict that demand on the North Shore, Inner West and South, Airport and Illawarra lines will exceed capacity in peak times by 2021. The Western Line is expected to reach capacity in peak times by 2031.

Without significant additional capacity, crowding during peak periods will substantially impact on the reliability of the key lines by the mid-2020s.

In addition, signalling systems are  reaching the end of their effective life, with unsustainable maintenance costs and high risk of asset failures, which could lead to passenger and operational disruption. Long travel times due to worsening congestion and reduced  reliability will result in nationally significant losses in productivity.


Potential solutions to accommodate the strong future growth in rail patronage could include significant investment in new services, advanced signalling, infrastructure upgrades and additional fleet.

In June 2020, we listed More Trains More Services Stage 2 as a Priority Project. The proponent is investigating options for the remaining sections of the network.

Next steps

Proponent to develop potential investment options (Stage 2 of Infrastructure Australia’s Assessment Framework).