Sydney Metro comprises three projects: City & Southwest; West; and Western Sydney Airport.

The review’s interim report says Sydney Metro should continue to target a 2024 opening for full services on the City & Southwest section but it will need a cash injection of A$1.1bn (US$720m). It adds that the technical and budget risks “are not insurmountable but will require a sustained and concerted effort to project manage over the next 24 months”.

The report also warns that any revision to the procurement timings of the remaining Sydney Metro West packages is highly likely to affect its 2030 opening date.

The review panel found that Sydney Metro was led by “a highly experienced, engaged, and very capable senior leadership team” but they faced significant challenges in delivering high quality, value-for-money, well-integrated outcomes because of a range of factors.

These included historical factors, such as poorly co-ordinated infrastructure planning by government agencies, and an ambiguity of decision-making authority across government; the unavoidable impact of the Covid-19 pandemic; and avoidable matters relating to sub-optimal and delayed decision-making, arising in part from complicated and lengthy governance arrangements, and disjointed planning and delivery efforts.

The review panel also identified that across the transport those involved in the project there was a “concerning” lack of understanding of individual responsibilities for key activities in the upfront planning and commissioning phases of major infrastructure projects. “Complex, sprawling governance and conflicting understandings of accountabilities are key risks to efficient and integrated investment outcomes,” the report says.

The review’s final findings and recommendations will be tabled by the end of the year.

In June, the first two TBMs were launched for the 24km Sydney Metro West line and in July the first breakthrough was made on the 23km Western Sydney Airport project. Testing and commissioning is under way on the City & Southwest line.