Way forward for Sydney Trains as final Rail Review released
April 26, 2024


The final Sydney Trains Review has been released, outlining key challenges and recommendations, including major system upgrades, fleet reliability and workforce gaps.

The findings provide a framework for reform that will shape the future of our railways in New South Wales.

The review found Sydney Trains is facing significant changes over the coming years, such as the new timetable allowing for integration of metro services, as well as critical network upgrades.

It recommends a ‘fleet support strategy’ be prepared to address performance issues, an action the government is currently exploring at pace.

Fleet performance is below target, caused by delays to train technology upgrades and the former government’s problem-plagued procurement and integration of the New Intercity and New Regional Rail fleets.

While the stalwart Tangaras are still within their life cycle, the ageing fleet was the highest contributor to maintenance issues. The government continues to explore options for the next generation of locally built Tangaras which will replace the current fleet in the coming years.

The review also highlights significant challenges in recruiting, training and retaining key skills in specialised positions, recommending a number of measures to address this shortfall.

Sydney Trains was found to have high vacancy rates in critical positions and an ageing workforce, particularly in the critical engineering and maintenance branch, in which around 20 per cent of staff are aged under 34 – and almost 30 per cent over 55.

Other recommendations from the review include:

  1. Realign accountabilities to improve approaches to safety, asset management, freight and third-party access to the rail corridor;
  2. Review how assets are owned, managed and assured within Transport​ for NSW;
  3. Explore options for continuous improvement of critical incident response;
  4. Work collaboratively with freight to determine better ways of prioritising the movement of both people and goods across the state​;
  5. Invest in critical asset needs and review ways of working to support enhanced maintenance practices.


Sydney Trains and Transport for NSW welcome the 69 findings from the review process and are working through them, with some more complex than others.

All 12 recommendations of the Interim Rail Review have either commenced or been finalised, including the government’s Rail Repair Plan, which exceeded expectations ahead of schedule.

The independent review was launched by the Transport Minister on 31 March 2023 and undertaken by an independent panel comprising Carolyn Walsh, Arthur Smith and Peter Medlock.

The full Sydney Trains Review Final Report can be viewed here.

Transport Minister Jo Haylen said:
“The Rail Review process has brought to light some of the key factors that have led to delays and disruption for passengers.

“There will never be a quick or easy fix, and these changes won’t happen overnight – but this is a crucial evolution that will gradually modernise our network and ensure we’re a global leader in rail efficiency.

“This final report covers many recommendations which provide a pathway forward, and I look forward to working through them with Sydney Trains and Transport for NSW.

“I want to thank the panel, all stakeholders who provided input, and – most importantly – the thousands of Sydney Trains workers who are contributing to this important work to shape the future of rail in NSW.”

Sydney Trains CEO Matt Longland said:
“Sydney Trains is always looking for ways to improve. We welcome the opportunity to do so through the review process and thank National Transport Commission Chair Carolyn Walsh for her work.

“We constantly strive to provide the best possible service for our passengers and are able to do so thanks to the tireless efforts of our hardworking staff.

“The review process has seen positive collaboration and important recommendations. We’re proud to be delivering results, such as the Rail Repair Plan, and look forward to the next steps.

“Some of these recommendations require considerable investment over the next decade, and we look forward to developing detailed proposals for the government’s consideration.”