Minister for transport Mrs Gladys Berejiklian says the requirements are set out in tender documents for the operations contract, with the formal request for proposals due to be issued later this month.

"Fully-automated train technology has been in use around the world for 30 years, keeping customers safe and ensuring rapid transit systems like the one we are building operate fast and efficiently, while catering for future growth," she says. "This technology is focused on safety and reliability – there's no point building a 21st century system with 20th century technology."

Platform screen doors will be installed at stations, making boarding and alighting faster and safer.

At the beginning of May two consortia, Northwest Rapid Transit and TransForm, were announced as the shortlisted bidders for the Operations, Trains, and Systems (OTS) contract for the NWRL, part of which requires the design and delivery of rolling stock along with signalling and control systems.

The consortia have until the end of this year to finalise their proposals and the OTS contract will be awarded in the second half of next year.

It is not clear whether the requirement for an automated railway was included in the original call for expressions of interest, as this is the first time the NSW government has mentioned driverless operation in public.