Sydney Metro Northwest opened to much fanfare today (Sunday May 26, 2019), with services operating every 7-10 minutes from shortly before 11am. Over 140 000 people rode on the new 36km, $7.3 billion line between Chatswood and Tallawong on the first day of operation.
Despite the excitement, the opening day was marred by a series of faults and poor organisation. Queues of over 1000 people had built at nearly all stations along the line by 10:30am, with many people having to wait over an hour before being able to board a service. Excited train spotters and locals alike queued outside stations hoping to be amongst the first to get aboard the new trains. Without a driver you can see right out the front and back of the trains and these windows were highly coveted spots today!
Later, it was reported that a number of trains were operating with faults, including one train that had to be removed from service after holding its passengers hostage at Macquarie Park. A number of other trains struggled to line up with the new platform screen doors, jolting forwards and backwards in an attempt to line up the train, with some services simply giving up and moving on to the next station. The train that needed to be removed from service caused headway and frequency to be thrown out for the remainder of the day, with 20-30 minute gaps between some services. This exacerbated the overcrowding that was occurring across the network.
At times, lines at Chatswood station spilled out into the shopping mall, with some passengers reportedly queuing for over 90 minutes at some times, whilst others were advised to simply catch a bus. This had the flow on effect of disrupting passengers catching Sydney Trains services.
Despite the slightly chaotic first day, it was marvellous to see the brand new driverless trains in service. This is the first driverless train line in Australia and one of the most advanced railways in the world. The line uses best practise technology mastered throughout Asia and Europe and runs frequently throughout the day. Regular services operate from tomorrow, Chatswood to Tallawong and return every 10 minutes between 5am and midnight.