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About $1.8 billion of property acquisitions have almost been completed for the second stage of Sydney's new metro rail line as work begins on demolishing the first towers in the central city to allow for construction of new train stations.

Until now they've mostly been limited to large overseas cities such as Hong Kong and Barcelona. But Sydney is about to join the ranks of cities sporting a lift-only entrance to a train station.

Thousands of tonnes of crushed rock from twin tunnels dug for a new metro line under Sydney Harbour and the central city will be moved by barge instead of truck in an attempt to allay residents' concerns about construction.

Plans to close Sydney's Bankstown rail line for six weeks a year for five years have been ditched following community opposition to the disruption caused during construction to convert it to carry single-deck metro trains.

Hundreds of million of dollars in spending on day-to-day operations will be stripped from the budget of NSW's lead transport agency this year and an immediate freeze put on hiring new staff, sparking fears services will suffer.

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