Vroom with a view: Sydney Metro Northwest opens to public

i3 2019 sydney 1
i3 2019 sydney 1

A driverless Sydney Metro Northwest train serves the growing needs of the Sydney’s fast-developing north-western suburbs (Photo credit: Sydney Metro)

SMEC and JV partners used innovative design to deliver one of the largest public transport project Down Under

The highly-anticipated Sydney Metro Northwest, Stage One of Australia’s biggest public transport project, has opened to the public. The driverless metro – which vrooms along silently at 100km per hour – has been welcomed by commuters who have been unhappy with the public transport.

Delivering over 36km of new metro rail for Sydney’s growing north-west, the AUS$8.3 billion project would improve travel time and increase reliability using a new generation of fully-automated trains. It also comprises eight new stations from Epping to Tallawong, five upgraded stations and 4,000 commuter car parking spaces. The eight new stations which includes three underground stations, three new open-cut suburban stations and two new elevated stations.

Building the final span of the Skytrain Bridge (Photo credit: Sydney Metro)

The Mott MacDonald, KBR and SMEC design joint venture (JV) worked on behalf of the John Holland-Leighton infrastructure JV, part of the Northwest Rapid Transit Consortium, who delivered the project. The JV was also responsible for train stabling maintenance facilities and the track and overhead power systems for the whole line. The Mott MacDonald, KBR and SMEC design JV delivered the detailed design.

BIM for good

Building information modelling (BIM) was successfully applied to this major transport infrastructure project and by adopting BIM, the JV minimised cost and schedule risk and enhanced constructability.

The innovative design reduced the use of raw construction material whilst enabling the architectural design of the stations to be implemented within budget. Reducing the use of raw construction materials and labour on site in favour of pre-fabricated elements has also increased the efficiency and sustainability of the project both in construction and in future maintenance operations.

Mr James Phillis, CEO, SMEC ANZ, said ““The Sydney Metro Northwest is not only the first Metro train system in Australia, it will also be Australia’s first driverless, fully automated passenger service. Seventy years on from our founding in the iconic Snowy Mountains Hydroelectric Scheme, SMEC is proud to continue our legacy in another iconic, innovative and ground-breaking infrastructure project that is making a difference to Australians.”

Signature bridge

Two different views of the cable-stayed rail bridge, the Skytrain Bridge, a beloved feature of the newly-opened Sydney Metro Northwest


Hailed as 2018 Global Project of the Year and Best Rail Project by Engineering News-Record (ENR), the train project features a three-span cable stayed rail bridge. It forms the tail end of a 4.5 km elevated viaduct that is a signature feature of the new Sydney Metro.

The Skytrain Bridge is a first in Australia. It is a curved bridge with a cable-stayed structure. It has two towers that are each 45 meters high, with 16 pipes holding cables that attach it to the bridge deck. The bridge deck is made up of 88 concrete segments that weigh between 70 and 140 tonnes each.

According to Sydney Metro, over the next 20 years the population of the state of New South Wales is expected to grow to around 9 million. With greater demands on infrastructure, the authorities have plans for future transport planning, providing a framework for transport policy and investment decisions that respond to key challenges.

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