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The Biggest Rail Projects Across Australia's Eastern Seaboard

The Biggest Rail Projects Across Australia's Eastern Seaboard

11 months ago By Emily Harris
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Australia’s rail infrastructure space is booming! From expansions to rail linking suburbs and new stations, there are multiple significant rail projects running concurrently. The New South Wales Government alone, invested $33 billion into transport infrastructure investments in its 2020-21 budget, while the Victorian Government committed more than $10 billion into public transport infrastructure in their last budget announcement (Booth, E. 2020)[1]. The significant portion of the State Government’s budget and overall federal budget that has been dedicated to infrastructure and specifically rail infrastructure, emphasises how big a role the rail sector is playing in Australia’s economic recovery. And rightly so; in 2019 the rail industry contributed around $30 billion to the Australian economy and employed over 165,000 workers (directly and indirectly in full-time equivalent terms). Leading up to 2020, the industry was made up of around 900 Australian businesses that were located in approximately 20 major hubs across the country. As the federal and state governments invest more into the rail industry and fast-track a number of projects, this contribution to our economy is only expected to increase[2].

To explore this in more detail, our dedicated Design & Build rail consultants for both Victoria, New South Wales and Queensland – Sophie Potts and Chris McCutcheon- summarises the biggest rail projects currently unfolding across the eastern seaboard and the potential career opportunities they present to those within the rail space:

Victoria- Key Projects

Melbourne Airport Rail Link

Progress: Planning & Development

The Melbourne Airport Rail project aims to connect Melbourne Airport to Victoria’s regional and metropolitan train network for the first time. By the time the project is completed (the opening date is slated for 2029) trains will be able to run from Melbourne Airport through to Sunshine Station, then into the Metro Tunnel and the heart of the CBD, before continuing on to the Cranbourne and Pakenham lines. This will make it that much easier for Melbournians to travel from the airport to wherever they need to go- work, home or the city’s popular attractions.

At this stage, both the Australian and Victorian governments have committed $5 billion each towards the project, which is currently in the planning and development stage. The project has already received feedback from the local community, which will help inform the further designing and planning of the project. Investigations into existing utilities, drainage infrastructure, flora and fauna impacted and geotechnical conditions are already underway and will continue until 2022 when construction is expected to commence. The Victorian Government estimates that the construction phase of the project alone will support up to 8,000 jobs, not including the work already involved in the statutory planning, approval and procurement process which will be conducted over the rest of 2021[3] (Victoria’s Big Build, 2021).

Suburban Rail Loop

Progress: Planning & Development

The suburban rail loop is a proposed 90km rail loop that will re-shape the city by linking every major rail line from Frankston line to the Werribee line via the airport. This loop will help connect Victorians to jobs, retail, education and health services.

The loop will also consist of three transport super hubs at Clayton, Broadmeadows and Sunshine where regional services will connect to the Suburban Rail Loop so that passengers outside of Melbourne don’t have to travel through the CBD to get to employment, homes, universities etc. in the outer suburbs. At this stage, the Victorian Government have invested $50 billion into the project, which is currently in the planning and development stage. Engineering assessments, important design and development work, and community/stakeholder engagement are currently underway and will help to determine the critical elements of the project when construction commences. At this stage, the Rail Loop will be developed in stages over several decades, with the first stage kicking off in 2022 between Cheltenham and Box Hill. Technical investigations for stage one are currently being conducted and the Victorian government have estimated that more than 20,000 jobs will be created during construction. The government has also pledged that up to 2,000 apprentices, trainees and cadets will be employed during the construction phase, as part of the Government’s Major Projects Skills Guarantee, making the Rail loop project a great career opportunity for those with all levels of experience[4] (Suburban Rail Loop. 2021).

Geelong Fast Rail

Progress: Planning & Development

The Geelong fast rail promises to shave the time off the commute between Geelong and Melbourne’s CBD and anticipates the final trip will take approximately 50 minutes – 15 minutes less than the current travel time. This project will be rolled out through several stages and the first stage is between Werribee and Newport, where a new track dedicated to regional services between Weribee and Laverton will be constructed. At this stage both the Victorian and federal government have invested $2 billion (each) for the first stage of the project and construction is anticipated to kick off in 2023, assuming all relevant planning, environmental and government approvals (which are being conducted at the moment) go to plan. The government anticipate the project to support over 2800 jobs during the construction phase alone.


NSW: Key Projects

Sydney Metro Railway Line

Progress: Under Construction

Touted as ‘Australia’s biggest public transport project’, the Sydney Metro railway system promises to revolutionise the way Sydneysiders travel, with 39 metro railway stations and more than 90km standalone metro railway system to be completed by 2024. The total project is estimated to cost between $11.5 billion to $12.5 billion and is split into three main stages: The Sydney Metro City & Southwest; Sydney Metro West; and Sydney Metro – Western Sydney Airport.

The City & Southwest project is well underway, with tunnelling completed in early 2020 on 15.5km twin railway tunnels between Chatswood and Sydenham. Following on from this, construction work commenced on the Northern Connection metro railway extension, to connect Sydney’s northwest to the city. About 7,500 tonnes of material is being excavated and a section of the existing suburban railway line will be re-positioned to allow metro trains to enter and exit the twin channels at Chatswood. This is predicted to be finalised in 2022.

Meanwhile, construction on the Sydney Metro West project officially kicked off in November last year and is continuing on this year in stations from the CBD to greater Paramatta. Overall the project is expected to create about 10,000 direct jobs and 70,000 indirect jobs during the construction phase and in May this year, the NSW government announced two new metro stations that will be included within the project - Prymont and Hunter Street. The overall project is expected to be completed in 2030.

The final stage of the Sydney Metro project is the 23-kilometre line which will service the greater Western Sydney region and the new Western Sydney International airport. Site clearing commenced late last year in order to prepare construction for a number of sites. Specifically, six new metro stations will be delivered- at St Marys, Orchard Hills, Luddenham, Airport Business Park, the Airport Terminal and at the commercial heart of the Western Sydney Aerotropolis (the area proposed to be named Bradfield).  

The second half of 2021 will see works underway in St Mary’s to enable construction to start – subject to planning determination. The project is aimed to be completed and operational at the same time as the Western Sydney Airport- which is currently slated for 2026. During this time the NSW government expect the project will support 14,000 jobs, with more than 250 apprenticeships on offer [5] (Sydney Metro. 2021).

Paramatta Light Rail

Progress: Under Construction

The Parramatta Light Rail aims to connect Westmead to Carlingford via the Parramatta CBD and Camellia precinct via a 12km two-way rail track. The project is already under construction and expected to open in 2023. Currently, 59% of the rail track has been laid on Parramatta’s eat street (Church Street, between Market and George streets, and along the rest of the 12-kilometre alignment from Westmead to Carlingford. Once finalised this light rail will replace the current train line between Camellia and Carlingford, which will provide more frequent services and better connections to major bubs like the Paramatta and Sydney CBD.

QLD Key Project

Cross River Rail Project

Progress: Under Construction

One of the most significant rail projects Queensland has undertaken in recent years, the Cross River Rail is a new 10.2-kilometre rail line from Dutton Park to Bowen Hills and will include two 5.9 kilometres of twin tunnels under the Brisbane River and CBD. The aim of the new railway line and tunnels will be to unlock the bottleneck occurring due to the single rail river crossing currently restricting the number of trains that can run through the CBD and outer suburbs. The ambitious project once completed, will transform public transport across Southeast Queensland and the way Queenslanders commute.

Four new completely new underground stations are being built at Boggo Road, Woolloongabba, Albert Street and Roma Street, two stations are being upgraded at Dutton Park and RNA Showgrounds, 6 upgraded stations from Salisbury to Fairfield on Brisbane’s Southside and the development of three new stations on the Gold Coast. As of the end of April this year, construction was underway at more than 10 worksites across Greater Brisbane and early investigation works have continued at the three Gold Coast station sites. Construction is expected to be completed in 2024 with services expected to commence in 2025 after extensive safety testing and commissioning. Deputy Premier and Queensland Minister for Infrastructure and Transport, Jackie Trad said that the project will create 1,500 each year and 3,000 approximate during its peak construction phase[6] (Infrastructure Magazine, 2017).

The Cross River Rail is being delivered by the Cross River Rail Authority in partnership with the private sector through three major infrastructure packages of work, all of which have employment, tender and sub-contracting opportunities available for the remaining stages of the project.

Contact Us:

For further information on the job opportunities Design & Build have available within the rail space, don’t hesitate to contact us at:

 For rail opportunities in VIC- contact Chris at

0412 747 198

For rail opportunities in NSW & QLD – contact Sophie at

0468 927 182

[1] Booth, E. (2020). Australia’s Biggest Rail Infrastructure Projects. Infrastructure Magazine. Retrieved from: 

[2] Australian Railway Association. (2020). Value Of Rail 2020. Deloitte Access Economics. Retrieved from: 

[3] Victoria’s Big Build. (2021). Melbourne Airport Rail – Project Timeline. Victorian Government. Retrieved from: 

[4] Suburban Rail Loop. (2021). Project Timeline. The Victorian Government. Retrieved from: 

[5] Sydney Metro. (2021). Sydney – Metro – Western Sydney Project Construction Update Newsletter April 2021. NSW Government. Retrieved from: 

[6] Infrastructure Magazine. (2017). $5.4 Billion Cross River Rail Project Underway. Infrastructure Magazine. Retrieved from: