Sydney Trains

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Sydney Trains
Sydney Trains logo.svg
A B set departing Panania station
A B set departing Panania station
OwnerTransport for NSW
Transit typeSuburban rail
Number of lines8
Number of stations170
Annual ridership135.5 million (2021–2022)
Chief executiveMatt Longland
WebsiteTransport for NSW: Sydney Trains
Began operation1 July 2013; 9 years ago (2013-07-01)
System length369 km (229 mi)
Track gauge1,435 mm (4 ft 8+12 in) standard gauge
Electrification1,500 V DC from overhead catenary
System map

Sydney Trains Network Map.svg

Sydney Trains is the operator of the suburban passenger rail network serving the city of Sydney, New South Wales, Australia. The network is a hybrid urban-suburban rail system with a central underground core that covers 369 km (229 mi) of route length over 813 km (505 mi) of track, with 170 stations on eight lines.[1]

It has metro-equivalent train frequencies of every three minutes or better in the underground core, 5–10 minutes off-peak at most inner-city and major stations and 15 minutes off-peak at most minor stations. During the weekday peak, train services are more frequent.

The network is managed by Transport for NSW, and is part of its Opal ticketing system. In 2018–19, 377.1 million passenger journeys were made on the network, making it the most used rail network in Australia.


In May 2012, the Minister for Transport announced a restructure of RailCorp, the organisation that owned and managed the metropolitan rail network and operated passenger services throughout New South Wales.[2][3][4][5] Two new organisations were created to take over operation of the services from 1 July 2013. Sydney Trains acquired all suburban services in the Sydney metropolitan area bounded by Berowra, Emu Plains, Macarthur and Waterfall from RailCorp's CityRail division. Intercity and Hunter Line services previously operated by CityRail were taken over by NSW Trains (branded as NSW TrainLink).[6] RailCorp remained as the owner of the network infrastructure. When first created as subsidiaries of RailCorp, Sydney Trains and NSW Trains were not controlled entities of RailCorp, but were instead controlled by Transport for NSW.[7] In July, they ceased to be subsidiaries of RailCorp and became independent standalone agencies in July 2017.[8][9]

Network changes[edit]

The first expansion of the Sydney suburban network during the Sydney Trains era occurred in 2015 when the South West Rail Link opened between Glenfield and Leppington.

In 2018, some sections of the network began to be transferred to the city's metro and light rail networks. The Epping-Chatswood Rail Link between Chatswood and Epping was closed for conversion in September 2018 to form part of the Sydney Metro Northwest, which opened in May 2019.[10][11] The section of the Carlingford Line between Camellia and Carlingford closed in January 2020 and will form part of the Parramatta Light Rail network.[12] The adjacent section of track between Clyde and Camellia, including Rosehill railway station, also became disused.[13] The light rail is expected to open in 2023.[12] The section of the Bankstown Line between Sydenham and Bankstown will form part of Sydney Metro City & Southwest, which is due to open in 2024.[14]


In July 2013, Howard Collins, the former Chief Operating Officer of London Underground, was appointed as Chief Executive of Sydney Trains. Stewart Mills was appointed Acting Chief Executive in February 2020, succeeded by Suzanne Holden as Acting Chief Executive in June 2020.

In addition to operating suburban train services, Sydney Trains maintains the New South Wales Metropolitan Rail Area, and maintains all but a handful of operational railway stations in the state.

St James station on the underground section of the network


Sydney Trains operates electric suburban lines across metropolitan Sydney.

In conjunction with a new timetable released on 20 October 2013, the Sydney Trains network was reorganised with a new numbering system. The number of lines was reduced from eleven to seven by merging several lines.

An eighth line was created on 26 November 2017 by splitting the T2 line into two separate lines. T5 services were also modified to no longer travel to and from Campbelltown, instead starting and terminating at Leppington.[15]

From 28 April 2019, the T1 line from Gordon to Hornsby via Strathfield was renumbered T9, whilst the portion from Berowra to Richmond & Emu Plains via Chatswood and Parramatta remained T1. T9 is red in colour.[16]

The T6 Carlingford line, which operated between Clyde and Carlingford, ceased operations on 5 January 2020.

Line colour, number and name Between
North Shore & Western Line

Berowra and Emu Plains or Richmond.

Inner West & Leppington Line

City Circle and Parramatta or Leppington via Granville.

Bankstown Line City Circle and Liverpool or Lidcombe via Bankstown and Sydenham.
Eastern Suburbs & Illawarra Line Bondi Junction and Waterfall or Cronulla via Central.
Cumberland Line Schofields and Leppington. Limited services continue from Schofields to Richmond.
Olympic Park Line Lidcombe and Olympic Park. Some services operate between Central and Olympic Park, particularly during special events, such as the Sydney Royal Easter Show.
Airport & South Line City Circle and Macarthur via Revesby and either Sydenham (peak) or Airport
Northern Line Hornsby and Gordon via Strathfield and City
The Grand Concourse of Central station

The main hub of the Sydney Trains system is Central station, which most lines pass through. Central is also the terminus of most NSW TrainLink lines. After leaving Central, trains coming from the T2 Inner West & Leppington Line, T3 Bankstown Line and T8 Airport & South Line then travel through the City Circle – a ring line beneath the Sydney central business district. After completing the City Circle, these trains pass through Central for a second time and return to the suburbs. The T1 North Shore & Western, T4 Eastern Suburbs & Illawarra and T9 Northern lines pass through the central business district and continue on to other areas of Sydney. The T5 Cumberland Line serves Western Sydney and provides access to the major centre of Parramatta from the south west of the city without requiring a change of trains at Granville. The T7 Olympic Park Line is a suburban shuttle service.


NightRide bus services established in 1989, replace trains between midnight and 4:30am, leaving the tracks clear of trains for maintenance work. Such bus services mainly stop near stations operating typically at hourly intervals (some routes depart more frequently on weekends). Many services depart the city from bus stops near Town Hall station.[17] NightRide services are contracted to external bus operators and are identified by route numbers beginning with "N".

Rolling stock[edit]

Sydney Trains operates a fleet of double deck electric multiple units. The trainsets are divided into the following classes:

Sydney Trains fleet
Class Image Type Top speed Carriages Entered service Formation Routes
km/h mph
K sets Electric

multiple unit

115 71 160 1981–85 4 cars
T sets 115 71 447 1988–95
M sets 130 81 140 2002–05
H sets 130 81 220 2006-12
A sets 130 81 626 2011–14 8 cars
B sets 130 81 328 2018–21

Though primarily operated by NSW TrainLink, some H sets are also used on suburban services, and with the delivery of the D sets for operations on regional NSW TrainLink lines from 2020, most of the sets will be transferred to suburban services.

All A, B and M sets are maintained by Downer Rail. Their contract for the M sets was extended by 10 years from June 2017.[18] All other types of trains including the V and H sets are maintained by UGL Unipart. The contract with UGL Unipart was extended for two years from 1 July 2019.[19]

The Sydney Trains network is divided into three sectors, based around three maintenance depots.[20] Trainsets are identified by target plates, which are exhibited on the front lower nearside of driving carriages.[21] Each target plate includes the letter of the class the set belongs to and the number of the individual set. Waratahs do not have a target plate, but instead, have the information written directly on the front of the train. The composition and formations of train sets and the target designations are subject to alteration. M sets and H sets carry green target plates.

Sydney Trains maintenance sectors
Sector # Depot Serviced lines Target plate Sets being
1 Mortdale T4 Eastern Suburbs & Illawarra line
Intercity services on the South Coast line
Red (T) T, H
Green (H)
2 Flemington T2 Inner West & Leppington, T3 Bankstown, T5 Cumberland, T7 Olympic Park and T8 Airport & South lines
Intercity services on Blue Mountains line and Central Coast & Newcastle line (V sets only)
Blue K, V
3 Hornsby T1 North Shore & Western and T9 Northern lines
Intercity services on the Central Coast & Newcastle Line (H sets only)
Black (T) T, H
Green (H)
Auburn Maintrain UGL Unipart carry out maintenance at the various depots to which the trains are allocated but major work may be carried out at Auburn Maintrain. All except A, B and M
Auburn All A, B and M sets are stabled at the depot for the sector in which they operate but are maintained at Auburn by Downer Rail. Stickers only (A, B) A, B, M
Green (M)


The following table lists patronage figures for the network during the corresponding financial year. Australia's financial years start on 1 July and end on 30 June. Major events that affected the number of journeys made or how patronage is measured are included as notes.

Sydney Trains patronage by financial year
Year 2013–14 2014–15 2015–16 2016–17 2017–18 2018–19 2019–20 2020–21 2021–22
322 340.7
359.2 377.1
References [22] [23] [24] [25] [26]
  1. ^ Opal rollout completed in March 2014.
  2. ^ The South West Rail Link opened in February 2015.
  3. ^ Non-Opal tickets were discontinued in August 2016.
  4. ^ The Epping to Chatswood Rail Link closed in September 2018. Patronage figures includes Station Link but excludes Sydney Metro
  5. ^ The T6 Carlingford Line ceased operations in January 2020.
  6. ^ a b c Patronage was significantly impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic and restrictions in the Greater Sydney area.
2021–22 Sydney Trains patronage by line[n.b. 1] [27]
41 980 000
23 077 000
11 198 000
27 775 000
3 503 000
605 000
16 879 000
10 415 000
  1. ^ Figures based on Opal tap on and tap off data.
2021–22 Transport for NSW patronage in Sydney by mode[28]
Mode Patronage % of total
TfNSW M.svg
10 667 000 3.82
TfNSW T.svg
135 535 000 48.60
TfNSW B.svg
112 470 000 40.33
TfNSW F.svg
5 374 000 1.93
TfNSW L.svg
Light rail
14 860 000 5.33
Total 278 906 000 100.00

Ticketing and costs[edit]

Sydney Trains currently uses the Opal card ticketing system which was introduced to the network in April 2014.[29] The fare system is fully integrated with the Sydney Metro network and the NSW TrainLink Intercity network – trips involving suburban, metro and intercity services are calculated as a single fare and there is no interchange penalty. Students who use the Sydney Trains network to get to and from schools can apply for a free school Opal card. Opal is also valid on bus, ferry, and light rail services but separate fares apply for these modes. The following table lists Opal fares for reusable smartcards and single trip tickets:[30]

Metro and Train
  As of 4 July 2022 0–10 km 10–20 km 20–35 km 35–65 km 65 km+
Adult cards & contactless (peak) $3.79 $4.71 $5.42 $7.24 $9.31
Adult cards & contactless (off-peak) $2.65 $3.29 $3.79 $5.06 $6.51
Other cards (peak) $1.89 $2.35 $2.71^ $3.62^ $4.65^
Other cards (off-peak) $1.32 $1.64 $1.89 $2.53^ $3.25^
Adult single trip $4.60 $5.70 $6.50 $8.70 $11.20
Child/Youth single trip $2.30 $2.80 $3.20 $4.30 $5.60

^ = $2.50 for Senior/Pensioner cardholders

A surcharge is levied when using the two privately operated stations serving Sydney Airport:

Airport station access fee
  As of 4 July 2022[31] Adult cards Other cards
Domestic or International Airport to/from all other stations $15.74 $14.08
Domestic or International Airport to/from Green Square $9.84 $9.84
Domestic or International Airport to/from Mascot $7.44 $7.44
Domestic to/from International $4.00 $4.00

As there are no return or periodical options available, reusable Opal cards include a number of caps to reduce the cost for frequent travellers:

Fare caps
  As of 4 July 2022[32][33][34] Adult cards Other concession
Daily Mon–Fri $16.80 $8.40 $2.50
Daily Saturday and Sunday $8.40 $4.20 $2.50
Weekly $50.00 $25.00 $17.50
Weekly airport
station access fee
$31.92 $28.61 $28.61

The previous ticketing system was introduced in 1992 and was based on magnetic stripe technology. It was shut down on 1 August 2016.[35]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Transport for NSW, Bureau of Transport Statistics (2014). "Train statistics 2014" (PDF).
  2. ^ "RailCorp job cuts first of many: unions" Sydney Morning Herald 15 May 2012
  3. ^ "Ruthless RailCorp reforms planned as middle management axed" Daily Telegraph 15 May 2012
  4. ^ Corporate Plan 2012/13 RailCorp
  5. ^ 700 jobs to go as RailCorp gets the axe Daily Telegraph 16 November 2012
  6. ^ About the Reform Sydney Trains
  7. ^ "Railcorp Annual Report 2013-14" (PDF). Transport for NSW. p. 15. Archived (PDF) from the original on 13 September 2018. Retrieved 21 December 2018.
  8. ^ "Transport for NSW Annual Report 2017-18" (PDF). Transport for NSW. p. 49. Retrieved 2 December 2018.
  9. ^ Transport Administration Amendment (Transport Entities) Act 2017 No 12 Schedule 1, Legislation NSW, retrieved 18 December 2018
  10. ^ "Station Link bus services to connect customers during Metro upgrade". Transport for NSW. 7 April 2018.|status=dead|archive-date=8 April 2018|archive-url= April 2018
  11. ^ "North West opening date announced | Sydney Metro". Sydney Metro. Retrieved 9 February 2021.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  12. ^ a b "Parramatta Light Rail – Stage 1: Connecting great places" (PDF). Transport for NSW. March 2017. Archived from the original (PDF) on 21 June 2017. Retrieved 7 June 2017.
  13. ^ "Parramatta Light Rail | Stage 1 – Westmead to Carlingford via Camellia: Environmental Impact Statement" (PDF). Transport for NSW. pp. 5–65, 5–66. Retrieved 24 August 2017.
  14. ^ "Sydney Metro". Transport for NSW. Retrieved 27 July 2016.
  15. ^ "More Trains, More Services for South Western Sydney" (PDF). Transport for NSW. Government of New South Wales. 27 February 2017. Retrieved 27 February 2017.
  16. ^ O'Sullivan, Matt (21 February 2019). "A New Red Line Through Sydney's Rail Map". The Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 21 February 2019.
  17. ^ Section, Transport for NSW, Customer Experience Division, Customer Service Branch, Customer Information Services. "Late night services". Retrieved 14 April 2018.
  18. ^ Millenium maintenance contract extension Downer Rail] 28 February 2017
  19. ^ UGL secures $277M extension with Sydney Trains UGL 31 January 2019
  20. ^ "Train Fleet Maintenance". CityRail. 1 June 2006. Archived from the original on 13 March 2008. Retrieved 18 May 2008.
  21. ^ Department of Railways, New South Wales: Working of Electric Trains, 1965
  22. ^ "Transport for NSW Annual Report 2014-15" (PDF). Transport for NSW. p. 131. Retrieved 1 August 2016.
  23. ^ "Sydney Trains 2015-16 Annual Report Volume 1" (PDF). Sydney Trains. p. 3. Archived from the original (PDF) on 10 May 2017. Retrieved 18 November 2016.
  24. ^ "Sydney Trains Annual Report 2016-17" (PDF). Transport for NSW. p. 4. Retrieved 24 November 2017.
  25. ^ "Sydney Trains Annual Report 2017-18" (PDF). Sydney Trains. p. 4. Retrieved 2 December 2018.
  26. ^ "Train Patronage – Monthly Figures". Transport for NSW. Retrieved 7 August 2020.
  27. ^ "Train Patronage - Monthly Figures". Transport for NSW. Retrieved 20 August 2022.
  28. ^ See Transport for NSW patronage in Sydney by mode for sources
  29. ^ "Trains | NSW Government | Opal". Archived from the original on 3 March 2014. Retrieved 28 March 2014.
  30. ^ "Opal fares". Transport for NSW. Retrieved 22 June 2019.
  31. ^ "Getting to and from Sydney Airport". Transport for NSW. Retrieved 4 July 2022.
  32. ^ "Opal benefits". Transport for NSW. Retrieved 2 July 2018.
  33. ^ "Getting to and from Sydney Airport". Transport for NSW. Retrieved 17 February 2020.
  34. ^ "Passenger Transport (Opal and Other Fares) Amendment Order 2020" (PDF). NSW Government. Retrieved 4 July 2022.
  35. ^ "No more paper tickets | NSW Government | Opal". Archived from the original on 15 February 2016. Retrieved 20 July 2016.

External links[edit]

Preceded by Operator of Sydney's suburban rail network