The state government has announced the launch date of the 36-kilometre first stage of the $7 billion North West Metro. From May 26, passengers can travel on Sydney’s first driverless metro line.

The Sydney Metro will stop at 13 stations, including Kellyville, Castle Hill, Epping, Macquarie Park and North Ryde. Eight stations have been specifically built for the new metro and five existing stations have been upgraded.

The metro will use technology not seen before in Australia, including driverless trains and screen doors to keep people away from the tracks. It will also be fully accessible, meaning every station will have lifts and level access between the platforms and the trains.

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Australia’s first privately operated suburban line (by Hong Kong's MTR) will run between the newly built Tallawong Station in Rouse Hill in greater western Sydney to Chatswood on the Lower North Shore, and trains will depart every five minutes for the first six weeks as the service finds its groove, before ramping up to departures every four minutes.

There is capacity for the single-deck trains to depart every two minutes in the future, with Metro Trains Sydney saying trains will depart so frequently that passengers won’t need to stick to a timetable.

“The Metro line is currently being extended from Chatswood to Bankstown and by 2024, Sydney will have 31 metro stations and a 66-kilometre standalone metro railway,” NSW transport minister Andrew Constance said in a statement.

To cope with the extra 10,000 passengers, whose metro journeys will end at Chatswood Station each morning, the existing T1 North Shore and Western Line has trains departing every three minutes, an increase from 120 to 200 trains per hour.

Four thousand parking spaces have been added to the network, as well as 588 bike storage spaces and 80 taxi stands. In north-west Sydney an extra 1500 bus services a week have been added to deliver people to the metro stations.

On evenings from Sunday to Wednesday for the first six months of the metro’s service, a night bus will run between Chatswood and Tallawong, with services leaving at least every 10 minutes. This is so further work can be completed before the metro begins running to full capacity every night. The first service will depart Tallawong at 9.25pm and the last at 12.10am, while in the opposite direction the first will depart Chatswood at 10.10pm and the last at 12.50am.

Passengers using the metro will be able to use their Opal cards and contactless payments. Existing train fares will apply.

It comes after all stations between Chatswood and Epping were closed in September and replaced with turn-up-and-go buses so the existing train line could be upgraded to cope with the metro.

The transport plan was announced by then-Transport Minister Gladys Berejiklian in 2011, and has been delivered ahead of schedule, $1 billion under budget. Work is currently underway to extend the metro from Chatswood to Bankstown by 2024. It will travel under the harbour and via the city and inner west. The extension will increase the number of metro stations to 31. A separate metro line, the Metro West, will run between Paramatta and the CBD and is expected to be complete by the second half of the 2020s.

The North West Metro is slated to begin services on May 26. See the timetable here.