Transportation Planning Casebook/New Public Transport Timetables for Sydney


  • Sydney is constantly growing and, as it does so, the current infrastructure becomes less and less able to service the demand of the growing population. In order to prevent the public transport system from becoming obsolete, it is necessary to constantly upgrade areas that are under strain, so that they may be able to better meet the needs of the commuters. Thus, gives rise to the essential upgrade of the Sydney Public Transport timetables on November 26, 2017, whereby critical areas of the transport system are made more efficient to suit this ever growing population.

Annotated List of ActorsEdit

Stakeholders Concern Issues
NSW Trains


  • Manage the operation of NSW TrainLink, providing services between Sydney and the Hunter, Central Coast, Blue Mountains, Southern Highlands and Illawarra and South Coast regions.
  • Bring together Intercity and Regional Services into an independent business.
  • Focus on the specific needs of intercity and regional customers (satisfaction).
  • Deal with labour issues e.g. strike.
  • Solve potential issues: emergency break down, additional trips for special events, short term changes, holiday timetable changes, real-time information, trackwork or any disruption alerts [1].
Andrew James Constance

(Minister for Transport and Infrastructure)

  • In charge of rail policy, contracting and regulation, fares and concessions in New South Wales, Australia.
Howard Collins

(Chief Executive of Sydney Trains and NSW TrainLink)

  • Lead the agency’s focus on patronage growth, increasing customer satisfaction, reduction in peak incidents and improving safety performance.
Rail, Tram & Bus Union (RTBU)
  • Spokesperson for the train drivers with NSW Trains and negotiating terms for employment issues such as overtime and strikes.
Alex Claassens
  • NSW Secretary and National Executive Member for RTBU.
Intercity and regional customers
  • Want reliable (in terms of frequency, capacity and journey times) and comfortable trains with on-board facilities.
  • Require an easier interchange between modes/services.
  • Feel inconvenient due to track work.

(train drivers/other staffs in the station)

  • High workload to sustain the additional train services but low payment.
Track workers
  • Construct new Sydney Metro City and Southwest stations.
  • Cause inconvenience to customers.
Other travel modes users (Bus, vehicle, taxi, walk etc.)
  • Possibility to change travel modes.
  • Increase interchange between modes.
Commercial space surrounding the (New) major interchange
  • Increase requirement of food court, convenience stores etc.
  • Overcrowding during peak hours.

Timeline of EventsEdit

November 2017Edit

Date Event
26 November Major timetable changes start creating 1,500 weekly train services including 750 new weekend services.[2]
The new network is extended to improve public transport in North Shore through the $514 million B-Line project which introduces 38 double-decker buses running every 5 minutes through 11 stops between the Sydney CBD and Newport.[3]
New timetables considered a success due to very little delays despite commuter complaints about packed trains and more train changes
Reintroduced decade old S-Set trains into the network to cover the increased number of services

December 2017Edit

Date Event
3 December Labor Party leaks a 52-page document that was prepared a week before the timetable changes on 26 November. It outlined many warning that the new network and timetables did not leave space or time for recovery during peak periods or after unexpected incidents. Incidents or delays in the system would take the network hours to recover before returning to normal which greatly impacts the commuters' travel times. The document included lines such as 'reduced fleet maintenance windows',[4] 'could result in crowding and other problems' and 'no opportunity or recovery from incidents'. [5]

11 December Incident occurred at Wentworthville around 6:30am where a crime scene was set up for more than 3 hours causing delays through to the afternoon. [5] Passengers were temporarily stopped from entering Town Hall Station to prevent overcrowding on the platforms due to delays occurring on the T1 Western, the T1 North Shore and Northern, the T2 Inner West and Leppington, the T3 Bankstown, the T5 Cumberland and the T8 Airport & South Line lines through the evening peak period. Buses had to replace trains that used the tracks where the incident occurred which was on the T1 Western Line between Blacktown and Richmond Station.[5]

Sydney Trains defends the new timetable stating that the major delays were unavoidable and were not due to the new timetables that were introduced last month.[6]

January 2018Edit

Date Event
8 January At least 18 services had to cancelled on the T1 North Shore, Norther and Western, T2 Inner West and Leppington, and the T8 Airport and South Lines.[4] The delays and cancellations occurred due to a shortage of train drivers as well as the increase of commuters returning to work after the Chrismtas holidays.
The new train timetable requires passengers to change trains more often which puts extra pressure on main stations such as Central, Town Hall, Wynyard, Parramatta, and Strathfield.[4]
9 January - 10 January Around 70 out of 3000 train crew called in sick.

Major delays occurred due to staff shortages along with bad weather and lightning strikes damaging signalling equipment at Gordon and Yagoona, mainly affecting the T1, T2, T3, and T8 lines. Bus replacements also had to be used on the T6 Carlingford and T7 Olympic Park lines throughout the day.[7]

12 January Train drivers voted 'yes' to taking industrial action.
24 January Applications are lodged by Industrial relations minister Dominic Perrottet and Sydney Trains with the Fair Work Commission to suspend the train drivers' 24 hour strike planned for Monday 29 January and ban on overtime starting from Thursday 25 January. [8]
25 January Train drivers' planned strike and ban on overtime is suspended by Fair Work Commission from 6pm today until 6pm March 8.[9]
29 January Day of train drivers' planned 24 hour strike but did not go ahead due to suspension. Trains coped reasonably well with about 93% services running on schedule.
30 January State government makes an offer to Sydney Trains' award employees with a 2.75% annual pay rise, a one-off $1000 payment, and free Opal card travel.[10]

February 2018Edit

Date Event
1 February Sydney Trains outlines the new offer in a meeting with about 200 delegates before it is implemented over the next few weeks.[11]

June 2018Edit

Date Event
TBA 24 new 8-car Waratahs ordered by the NSW Government expected to arrive from China. Sydney Trains plans to improve the network with 4 new express services between Parramatta and Sydney CBD running with a train every 3 minutes.[12]

Maps of LocationsEdit

New Sydney Trains network map:

Old Sydney Trains network map:

Not only the train timetable but also the route map and lines have been changed during this rail revolution.

There are several key changes to the train network map:

  1. Rename each ends of the lines by adding terminus to help customers find their way on “multi-headed” lines. For example, instead of T1, it’s now T1 Western, T1 Richmond, T1 Epping, T1 Northern and T1 North Shore.
  2. Major changes of T2:
    • Former T2 line from Macquarie Fields to Macarthur is now served by T8 Airport & South Line.
    • T2 Inner West extends to Parramatta and Granville is no longer a interchange point between western and south lines. Therefore, Parramatta is promoted as a major interchange.
    • T2 Inner West provides slower “shuttle” services between Ashfield , and city to Homebush which were all-stops so that T2 service might be slower than previously.
  3. T5 Cumberland line now starts from Richmond and ends at Leppington. Users in-between Riverstone to Richmond and Leppington to Edmonson Park gain services on T5, whereas users from Macquarie Fields to Campbelltown lose service on T5.
  4. Clyde becomes an interchange point for Leppington and Inner West T2 services, allowing for smoother transfers from the T6 Carlingford line.
  5. The new Sydney Metro City and Southwest stations of Chatswood, Crows Nest, Victoria Cross, Barangaroo, Pitt Street, Waterloo are now depicted.

The timetable change includes:

  1. Over 1,500 extra weekly services, including about 750 on weekends
  2. West Sydney receives a 92% increase in services, including Leppington and Edmondson Park.
  3. 71% stations receives a minimum 15-minute service frequency across most of the day - a 43% increase.
  4. More than 40% increase in the number of weekly services stopping at Parramatta.
  5. A 22% service growth at Penrith Station.
  6. New fast services between Liverpool and the Sydney CBD on the T3 Bankstown line. [13]

In customers’ place, the new timetable could bring a few benefits:

  1. Over 200 extra weekly services on the T8 Airport and South Line in non-peak hours. Besides, an extra 20 express trains per week in peak hour for Campbelltown and Macarthur customers to the CBD via the T8 Airport and South Line.
  2. Over 250 express trains per week between Parramatta and the Sydney CBD, including 20 express trains during peak hours.
  3. 24 new express services between the Sydney CBD and the Blue Mountains on weekends.
  4. Over 160 new weekend T5 Cumberland Line services connecting South Western Sydney, Western Sydney and North West Sydney to expand services that currently run on weekdays only.
  5. Direct access on weekdays to Parramatta for Inner West customers for the first time.
  6. Greater frequency from popular Inner West stations like Stanmore with a 15 per cent increase in services across the week. [13]

Policy IssuesEdit

The changes in November to the network that came from Blue Mountains, made commuters from this location experience delays since they were forced to incorporate additional stops to their routes to get to their destination.

Additionally, the changes that took place in during peak-hours in December, made impact in the ability to adjust the time of recovery of the rail network, due to the increment in the train services. In December, it was published by the Sydney Morning Herald, due to the track capacity and the greater amount of work for signallers, the reliability of service on the Western Line during morning peak is in potential risk, also the standard dwell period for trains at the city’s stations is 30 seconds, so changes in this increment the ability to recovery from delays.

Later in January, the Sydney Train System experience more issues related with the time tables changes. The Rail, Tram and Bus Union (RTBU) said the issues are directly from Sydney Trains. The RTBU NSW Secretary Alex Claassens said “We’ve been warning for months that this timetable won’t be able to cope with even minor issues, and that the smallest of incidents could send the network into chaos. And that’s exactly what’s happened last week, and likely to happen again on Monday.” He also mentioned that the new timetable was introduced without being properly resourced.

Although the changes meant more train in services, that also means it takes the network longer to recover from major incidents.

Currently, information for future time tables has been kept in private by the government. The Labor’s Transport Spokenwoman Jodi Mckay said “This is information that should be in the public domain, it's information that people are entitled to and I think it's a very dangerous precedent."

On the other hand, The NSW Civil and Administrative Tribunal (NCAT) discards the arguments around the timetables. Transport for NSW’s principal manager, Nikolai Prince expressed that releasing such information ahead of time, could lead to misinterpretation, and, as consequence, possibly in delaying major infrastructure projects.

Narrative of the CaseEdit

Sydney is one of the most popular cities residing in the Oceania region. As the state capital of New South Wales, Sydney houses a population of approximately 5.03 million people, taking around 21% of the population in Australia [14]. According to the research from Loughborough University [15], Sydney is one of the top ten cities in which highly contribute to the world’s economy and it also is one of the major financial centres in Australia. Hence, an appropriate and reliable public transportation system must be required in order to support its large population and volume of traffic. Several types of public transport, involving commuter rail, light rail, buses and ferries, can provide multi-mode trips for passengers in order to encourage them to choose public transport rather than private transport. However, there are still a number of problems for Sydney public transportation, including train delays, low frequency of trains, and many more. As demand for public transport has risen, modest rises in services have not kept pace. The pressure of overcrowding has led transport authorities to design more ‘realistic’ timetables: bus and train trips now take longer than in past years which has led from the extreme congestion of Sydney’s rail and underground transport systems (especially during peak hours on weekdays), delaying the total travel time for passengers.

In recent years, the major factors causing train delays have been absent train drivers and ‘earlier incidents’. Earlier at Central Station, eight out of ten train lines were not running to a timetable anymore, with no expected departure times available, and most of travelers were also turned away from certain platforms at Central and Wynyard due to significant overcrowding. In that situation, Sydney Trains angered many by instructing people to avoid trains and instead catch buses due to extended delays throughout Tuesday evening. It is usual that many commuters were desperate to get on board the limited trains running during peak hour, forcing themselves into crammed carriages. Standard 15 minute train commutes were being delayed to at least one hour due to ‘unknown’ reasons. This brings about the much needed anticipation for changes to be made to the public transport systems.

As a country of immigrants with the rapid increase of population and economic growth, the Australian Government must meet the quota for an advancement of the transport network systems. This involves an improvement of the timetables or plans as well as improving the trains service and capacity in order to reduce these negative impacts on social and transportation aspects. Therefore, minor changes are not sufficient for the rapidly growing need for commuting. It is obvious that improving the capacity for public transit and updating of the timetables are required for Sydney’s transportation system.

This had led to the introduction of new train timetables being starting from 26th November 2017. This provided more than 8600 new weekly public transport services by adding approximately 1500 extra weekly train services (also including 750 new weekend train services) with 7000 new weekly bus services and more than 140 new weekly ferry services respectively. Premier Gladys Berejiklian states ahead of the changes that; “we are giving thousands of customers an early Christmas present this year with more services and better connections between modes to help them get to where they need to go”[16], emphasising this sense of improvement in the efficiency of Sydney Trains. Along with this, these extra services being implemented are made to alleviate the sheer volume of traffic in Sydney trains particularly at nights and weekends, accommodating Sydney’s ever growing population. In an attempt to simplify the transport network, Sydney trains have eliminated waiting times by half for over two-thirds of most stations, enabling a smoother and more transitioned timetable [17]. Having said this, although this overhaul of Sydney trains reaps numerous benefits, some commuters experienced increased travel time and some lines which skip stations due to these changes. This means that customers will also need to swap stations in order to reach their desired destination which was unnecessary before these changes set in. The State Government ensured that “the benefits of increase in services outweighed the negatives”. [17]


  1. Why was this section of the network selected for the upgrade over other areas?
  2. Are there any places along the line that should get a stop or any nearby stops that should be included in the line?
  3. Were the funds and resources invested in this project well spent, or would they be better spent on other projects?
  4. Why was the project considered a success by the officials if the public is complaining about more train changes and crowded trains?
  5. The document leaked by the Labour party mentioned crowded trains and a lack of crisis control. What could the reasons to implement the project have been?
  6. Why were double-decker busses chosen?
  7. Were the train delays on 11th December attributable to the new line, despite official claims?
  8. On the 9th of January, were the delays handled well or poorly? Would you have done anything differently?



  4. a b c
  5. a b c
  13. a b
  17. a b