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Upgrading switchgear across Sydney Trains network

Serving more than one million commuters every weekday, Sydney Trains operates quick, frequent and reliable trains in the greater Sydney suburban area. In addition, it operates and maintains the metropolitan rail network and provides maintenance services to NSW trains. 

The safe, reliable and efficient running of the Sydney trains network is essential to keep Sydney-siders on the move, reduce traffic congestion and support a cleaner, greener city. However, with an aging network and demand on the rise, Sydney Trains partnered with Schneider Electric to ensure its critical electrical equipment was fit for the future. 


Crucial to the safe running of the Sydney Trains network is switchgear - technology responsible for de-energising electrical equipment to ensure safe maintenance to be undertaken. Sydney Trains determined that switchgear housed in the 11k Redfern Substation, the nerve centre of the network, needed to be upgraded. 

“Built in the 1970’s and comprising of simple 11,000 volt Brown Boveri RGB12 Switches & Fuses switches, our Redfern Substation was running on ageing equipment. With Sydney’s population set to grow by 1 million over the next ten years, we knew we needed to upgrade the critical switchgear to future proof the Sydney Trains network.” said Mo Mansour, Sydney Trains Project Manager. 

Upgrading a train network with switchgear is no easy feat. For one, The Redfern Substation, which employed the switches and fuse switches now in need of replacement, had limited space available for upgrades. To further complicate the upgrade, the location of the switch room was directly above a platform at a critical station on the Sydney Trains Network, meaning any work would impact the schedule of regular commuter trains. 

It was decided that any solution needed to be put in place within a three day period, making the already difficult logistics for an upgrade, even more challenging. 


Schneider Electric proposed PremSet to Sydney Trains, a new generation of switchgear technology that is compact, easy to install and robust enough to futureproof the ongoing safe, efficient operations of the Sydney Trains network for decades to come. Premset has a core focus on safety; the insulation and screening of all live parts ensure a trouble-free service life, while SF6-free technology enhances peace of mind. 

“Choosing to work with an organisation like Schneider Electric was an example of Sydney Trains looking to the future, and investing in the growth of our network. PremSet was the ideal switchgear for us as it suited for the tight space and would offer a high-quality, efficient and easy to use solution,” Mo added.

To minimise disruptions to the high volume of commuters that board and alight at Redfern Station, the Schneider Electric team worked to install Premset within a tight timeframe. Given its plug and play interface, Premset is by nature quick and easy to install. Its unique Harting connector and plug is capable of facilitating a number of wirings connected to a single plug. This helped to minimise the time needed on site for technicians to connect the individual operation wiring from panels to the freestanding control panel. 

With the challenging installation timeline in mind, all testing and commissioning had to be achieved over one weekend. To achieve this, the majority of testing was completed off-site in the factory at Benalla with only critical testing done on site.


With new Premset switchgear in place, Sydney Trains team have a new found confidence in their network. 

“With Premset switchgear now installed at our Redfern substation, we have greater operational flexibility, with staff able to remotely manage the network and isolate issues. With fewer maintenance requirements, our ongoing operating costs will be significantly reduced. But above all, Sydney’s commuters, visitors and dwellers will be able to enjoy safe, swift and sustainable journeys across Sydney’s city centre for many years to come.”

Premset is smart grid ready, so looking to the future the Sydney Trains Network can be sure they have the most advanced protection and energy efficient solution in place,” Mo said. 

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