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Greater Sydney network

Future Transport Strategy

The Greater Sydney Network refinement

Future Transport 2056 sets the vision for the future transport network through the establishment of Greater Sydney Strategic Transport Corridors. It outlines, for future investigation, the city-shaping, city-serving, strategic road, freight and cycling networks that people will use to move around on multiple modes of transport. 

Future Transport leaves open a more detailed pathway to implementing its vision. For example, the projects identified in Future Transport’s Greater Sydney Services and Infrastructure Plan are predicated on the timing of when these projects should be further investigated, leaving flexibility for decisions about when or if to deliver to achieve our long-term vision for the network.

Since the release of Future Transport 2056 in 2018, Transport for NSW and land use agencies have been working to further develop Future Transport’s 2056 network. The Greater Sydney Network Corridors outlined in Future Transport have been analysed in more detail, with potential transport solutions examined to ascertain the best fit for the city-shaping and city-serving corridors. Corridor preservation will ensure transport links can be provided for growing communities well into the future, and support further development of the road and freight corridors and the connected metropolitan bicycle network. 

Refining the vision and examining the future mix of potential modal solutions in more detail is helping develop a preferred network for 2056. This means we can start coordinating long-term plans with Australian, NSW and local government agencies, as well as communities, customers and industry.

Indicative 2056 modal networks developed by Transport for NSW and land use agencies outlined below are subject to further investigation and business case analysis, but provide an indication of future network options to inform place planning currently being undertaken with NSW and local governments.


Road network

The road network carries, and will continue to carry, the vast majority of trips made across Greater Sydney. Buses, cars, bikes, pedestrians, light rail, service vehicles and trucks use, at least in some part, the road network. It also provides access for non-road based transport modes such as planes, ferries, trains and metro. The importance of a safe road network for Sydney cannot be understated. As Sydney grows, it is essential the efficiency of the road network is increased through the application of technologies and more efficient utilisation of the available road space. 

The strategic road network includes motorways and key arterial routes (shown below). An arterial road network performs a critical role in linking communities and providing important connections to dispersed employment areas that are more difficult for customers to reach using public transport, walking and cycling.

As well as providing key connections for people, the road network provides the primary connections to enable road-based freight movements. All freight uses the road network at some point in the supply chain. An efficient road network is therefore critical to ensuring the economic growth of Greater Sydney.

The above map represents a vision for how a future road network could look. The concept is not committed, and its assumptions are subject to further investigation and refinement, as more detailed assessments take place. 


Rail network

The rail network forms the backbone of Greater Sydney’s high-capacity mass transit system. It is anticipated that residents and visitors will become increasingly reliant on rail services as Greater Sydney grows to a population of more than eight million by 2056, similar in size to that of New York or London today. 

The rail network may encompass a range of product types in the future, which include potential fast rail services linking Greater Sydney to the regions, metro trains, suburban trains, ‘mini’ or ‘light’ metros, and intercity and regional trains.

Maintaining train paths on the shared metropolitan network for freight trains is critical to moving more freight on rail. The network supports the movement of containerised imports, regional exports, waste, manufactured goods, construction materials, steel and coal. 

The image below illustrates a developing vision for the 2056 rail network. It builds on Future Transport’s predominantly city-shaping network, and includes further detail on the operating concepts, indicative alignments and key interchange locations.

The above map represents a vision for how future rail services could be operated. The concept is not committed, and its assumptions are subject to further investigation and refinement, as more detailed assessments take place. 

The next step in the development of the 2056 vision for the rail network is to integrate these changes with planned fast rail, intercity and rail freight services within Greater Sydney. This includes determining the alignment and servicing of corridors approaching Greater Sydney from regional and outer metropolitan NSW, drawing on long-term metropolitan rail network planning, freight and fast rail project assumptions.


Rapid bus network

The rapid bus network supports Greater Sydney's integrated public transport system by offering customers a fast, frequent and reliable moderate- to high-capacity option serving city-shaping and city-serving corridors.

As illustrated below, the 2056 Future Rapid Bus Network vision consists of an extensive set of rapid bus lines, which are intended to operate in a similar manner to the existing Northern Beaches B-Line. The rapid bus lines will be supported by dedicated bus lanes, bus priority technology and high-quality bus stop infrastructure. The fleet will respond to customer needs and consider zero-emission technology.

The 2056 Future Rapid Bus Network Vision proposes 39 rapid bus lines across Greater Sydney that link metropolitan city centres, metropolitan city clusters and strategic centres with the broader Greater Sydney population. Local buses and on-demand transport services will integrate with rapid buses, enabling customers to reach their nearest cities and centres within 30 minutes.

The above map represents a vision for how future bus services could be operated. The concept is not committed, and its assumptions are subject to further investigation and refinement, as more detailed assessments take place.


Ferry network

The Circular Quay to Manly ferry service provides a city-serving ferry corridor, recognising the volume of customers and frequency of service now and into the future. The remainder of Sydney’s ferry network predominantly plays a centre-serving or local transport function.

A long-term ferry strategy will be developed covering Sydney Ferries and will identify the future direction within Greater Sydney, including potential service and technology changes. For example, the first 6 month stage of an on-demand ferry trial has been conducted in The Bays area, connecting Glebe, Pyrmont and Barangaroo, to assess the potential of this new type of service. The trial is currently on hold while initial results are analysed.


Light rail network

In 2018, Future Transport 2056 identified light rail corridors as part of the city-serving and centre-serving network. Services were introduced on the L2 Randwick Line in December 2019 and on the L3 Kingsford Line in April 2020. Delivery of Parramatta Light Rail is well underway, with passenger services expected to begin in 2023.

Potential light rail lines and extensions will be considered part of multimodal public transport planning as appropriate. The South East Sydney Transport Strategy has also considered a light rail extension to Maroubra Junction and identified prioritising the delivery of metro to La Perouse to provide the higher capacity needed to meet expected demand in the medium and longer term.

The above map represents a vision for how future light rail and ferry services could be operated. The concept is not committed, and its assumptions are subject to further investigation and refinement, as more detailed assessments take place. 


Freight network

With Greater Sydney’s freight task forecast to more than double in the next 40 years, the freight network needs to be able to support this future demand. This requires a strategic focus to ensure policy, infrastructure and land-use planning initiatives deliver a freight network where capacity and performance can meet demand. This will allow for movements that deliver a diverse range of products and services, and provide the construction materials required to build the growing city.

Providing for a growing Greater Sydney and a growing freight task requires an efficient and effective road and rail freight network integrated with ports, airports, intermodal terminals and key freight precincts and centres. This needs a network that efficiently supports this projected growth, while balancing freight needs with those of the broader community and the environment.

Opportunities exist to shift more freight onto rail and this remains an important priority for the NSW Government.

Increasing the rail mode share of containers to and from Port Botany will have significant benefits, particularly in the face of growing road congestion. Intermodal terminals within Greater Sydney are critical for increasing the utilisation of the rail freight network, particularly containers to and from Port Botany. Greater separation of passenger and freight movement on the rail network will provide a 24/7 dedicated rail freight link between Port Botany and intermodal terminals. TfNSW is also leading the Empty Container Working Group, a committee made up of key stakeholders in the empty container supply chain, to identify challenges and industry led voluntary opportunities to improve the efficiency and resilience of the broader container supply chain.

A key action for achieving ongoing productivity improvements for the movement of road freight is to increase the use of safer and more productive vehicles, known as High Productivity Vehicles (HPVs) around intermodal terminals and other key freight precincts. Modern HPVs fitted with best practice safety technologies are safer, and can carry more freight, putting downward pressure on the number of trucks in operation and leading to fewer trucks on the road.

In NSW, the freight task is mainly undertaken on a shared transport network where the movement of freight and the movement of people compete for network capacity, whether it be heavy and light vehicles on motorways, or freight and passenger trains on the shared rail network. Increased freight access on the shared network will be vital as the freight task continues to grow. The provision of dedicated freight infrastructure will separate freight and passenger movements and increase access for freight across the road and rail network.

There is an increasing importance placed on 24/7 supply chain operations to maintain Greater Sydney’s global competitiveness. It is important that locations around key freight networks and precincts are not adversely affected by traffic patterns or increased congestion, creating barriers to 24/7 freight operations. The land-use planning system needs to recognise the importance of freight, and retain and protect existing and future freight corridors, industrial land and freight precincts from encroachment by sensitive land uses.

The land-use planning system can also ensure places such as precincts, streets and major buildings are designed for freight. Incorporating spaces for freight in land-use planning is a key priority to drive more efficient last-mile outcomes. Increases in population density, especially around key urban centres in major cities, drive corresponding increases in freight and servicing demand.

New technology will play a significant role in improving the efficiency of existing infrastructure and transport. The NSW Government is facilitating trials of emerging technology by industry as well as exploring opportunities to apply new technology to manage its network. Technology will also continue to play a role in improving safety, sustainability, and the data to inform decision making.

The above map represents a vision for how future freight services could be operated. The concept is not committed, and its assumptions are subject to further investigation and refinement, as more detailed assessments take place.


Connected metropolitan bicycle network

More than 11 million weekday car trips in Greater Sydney are less than 10 kilometres. These short trips contribute to congestion on already constrained parts of the transport network.

Cycling requires safe and connected cycling infrastructure to enable customers to ride more often. Appropriate cycling infrastructure linking communities to everyday destinations, such as centres, jobs, services, schools, public transport and parks, can support more short trips taken by bicycle or other forms of approved micromobility devices, such as e-bikes.

Encouraging cycling could help relieve congestion and could more than double the number of people who can reach our three cities within 30 minutes.
Cycling also has a health payback by preventing chronic disease through increased physical activity and improved wellbeing. It creates better places, lowers carbon emissions and improves access to public transport services.

In the future, the connected metropolitan bicycle network will enable people to travel safely between centres across Greater Sydney. 

The above map represents a vision for how future bicycle networks could be operated. The concept is not committed, and its assumptions are subject to further investigation and refinement, as more detailed assessments take place.


Potential staging options

The next step in refining the future network is for Transport for NSW and land use agencies to investigate potential staging plans to reach the 2056 vision. 

Options for the staging of infrastructure identified in Future Transport 2056 will be progressively assessed to identify decade-by-decade investments that have the best potential to service the government’s three-cities vision. This will inform coordinated planning between State government agencies and local governments to maximise the benefits of these investments, and locate the right land uses and services around the transport network.

Find out more about service and infrastructure initiatives for Greater Sydney.

Six principles for Future Transport

The Future Transport 2056 Strategy is focused on six key principles for the future of mobility in the state, which together aim to positively impact the economy, communities and environment of NSW.

Read more