Sunday, August 13, 2017

BrizCommuter 2017 Caption Competition

It's competition time! BrizCommuter asks for amusing captions for the below photo of a cardboard cut-out of a Queensland Rail (QR) New Generation Rollingstock train. The winner gets to be stuck on a broken down Ferny Grove Line train for 3 hours whilst holding a full bladder.


To get you started here are a few caption ideas:
  • I know the disabled toilets are too small, but that small?
  • To get the NGR trains in service before the Commonwealth Games, requires passengers to build their own. 
  • The closest you'll get to riding on an NGR train in 2017. 
  • The 50% cheaper NGR trains ordered by the Newman government, was due to cardboard construction. 
Add captions using the comments section. If you work for Department of Transport and Main Roads, or QR, you can enter anonymously!

Friday, August 11, 2017

QR's 2017 Ekka Rail Fail

Ekka loop service - faster to walk!
From Oceana's worst train operator that brought you the diabolical Interim and 2017 Timetables, the inadequate Summer, Easter, and Winter School Holiday Timetables, comes yet another Rail Fail event. This time, due to lack of organisational competence and lack of train drivers, Queensland Rail (QR) have reduced the train services to the 2017 Ekka.

Despite adverts at train stations advertising 15 minute Exhibition Loop services, TransLink's journey planner tells a different story. The Exhibition Loop services will only be running every 20 minutes, even on the busy weekend days and People's Day on Wednesday. This is a 25% cut in Ekka train services compared to last year. Just to make things worse, there is also no sign in the journey planner of the many additional train services that were run to the Ekka, many of them being trains that usually terminate at Roma Street being extended to serve Exhibition station on the way to the depot (or vice versa). Thus it is likely that the final figure may be that more than 30% of Ekka services have been axed.  This a disgrace, and will result in severe overcrowding on the first few trains of the day. BrizCommuter would strongly advise walking to the Ekka from Fortitude Valley and Bowen Hills stations, rather than travelling on one of QR's infrequent sardine cans.

A quick inspection of the timetable, also shows a 17 minute gap between Ekka Loop trains arriving at Roma Street and departing. This would block platforms to other services, add conflicting moves, or cause mass go card confusion by using platform 10. So, BrizCommuter also doubts that this timetable can be reliably operated. It is likely that unfortunate passengers may experience a rather random service frequency.

If you think things can't get any worse, then look forward to reduced timetables in the Spring School Holiday, 2018 Summer School Holiday, Easter, around and during the Commonwealth Games, and so on until sometime in 2019 when QR may finally have enough drivers to operate the October 2016 timetable - only 3 years late!

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

QR's Rail Fail DB Review - Finds the bleeding obvious!

Screenshot from DB report.
Over 300 days after the start of Queensland Rail's (QR) Rail Fail, an independent investigation by consultants from Deutche Bahn (DB) has told Queensland Rail exactly what BrizCommuter has been saying for the last three quarters of a year. The main findings are:

  • The New Generation Rollingstock (NGR) project, also dubbed as Not Going Right, is a complete disaster with 140 technical issues at the time of the review. Whilst India is not renowned for it's manufacturing industry, it seems that a lot of the flaws are in the "Queenslander" specifications and design. 
  • That the 18 NGR trains required for the proposed Gold Coast 2018 Commonwealth Games (GC2018) is not likely to be achieved. 
  • That there are not enough train crew to operate the proposed timetable for the GC2018 - this will result in cuts to services on train lines other than the Gold Coast Line, which BrizCommuter has been warning about since November 2016. 
  • The geriatric EMU trains are becoming a reliability liability, adding to risks for GC2018. 
  • Fragmented IT systems, with high risk from cyber attack. 
  • That QR's customer service is good. Really? BrizCommuter assumes that DB didn't ask any passengers about this?
  • Risk in 40 year life cycle for SMU and IMU trains. Time to order more NGR trains?
  • High rate of overtime dependance. 
  • Fragmented organisational structure. 
  • General lack of trust and partnership between QR and TransLink/Department of Transport and Main Roads (TMR).
So what needs to happen?
  • Realistically, QR is a failed organisation that can probably only be fixed by privatisation with a train operator that knows what it is doing, such as DB or MTR. 
  • TMR's governance of public transport is a failure. There needs to be better governance of public transport in Queensland, maybe following Perth's example of governance with a public transport only body. 
  • DG TMR Neil Scales should be sent packing back to England. 
  • That the #GC2018railfail is inevitable, resulting in reduced services on lines other than the Gold Coast Line before, during, and after the Commonwealth Games. Politicians need to stop hiding the truth from the public. 
  • More NGR trains need to be ordered, once the design flaws are fixed. 
The DB Whole of Business Review of Queensland Rail report:
https://www.cru.qld.gov.au/resources/20170720%20QR%20Whole%20of%20Business%20Review%20-%20DB%20EC%20final%20presentation.pdf

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Fixing The Trains - But When?

You forgot to mention the 333 axed train services?
After recently being berated by BrizCommuter for the delayed June edition of Fixing The Trains (.pdf download link), the Citytrain Response Unit (CRU) has finally released it. So what have the Citytrain Response Unit, who incidentally are costing the taxpayer $3.5m a year, said in the latest update on Queensland Rail's (QR) #RailFail?

Stabilising timetables - the CRU have stated that "Queensland Rail has undertaken rigorous stress testing of the current timetable and has determined that the current timetable should remain in place. There are however, a number of distinct stress periods identified over the next 12 months which will require active management. This may require timetable adjustments, for a defined period of time, to ensure sufficient train crew are available to deliver reliable services across the network." In other words, expect yet more hourly weekend train services (worst train frequency in Oceana), and cuts to timetables during school holidays. No mention of how long the "interim timetable" cuts will stay in place, seems to be indefinitely.

QR being more customer focussed - the CRU have stated that "From equipping station staff with more tools to help customers, to frequent Commuter Catch-Ups and a refresh of station amenities, Queensland Rail is demonstrating that it is an organisation committed to meeting the needs of its customers and stakeholders. Queensland Rail will continue to use customer feedback to grow and evolve initiatives to improve customer experience." They failed to mention QR deleting hundreds of negative reviews of Facebook, the somewhat last minute mentions of the Commuter Catch-Ups, and the fact that customer information during times of delays is still as bad as ever.

Business Review - "Deutsche Bahn Engineering and Consulting was engaged to assist in the first phase of the review which comprised more than 70 interviews, 4 site visits and review of more than 250 documents. This  first phase of the review will be finalised next quarter." How about just privatise QR to Deutsche Bahn or another competent company, rather than wasting taxpayers money trying to get consultants to sort out the schmozzle that is QR?

Commonwealth Games - one tiny entry for the next major #RailFail disaster, with the CRU saying "plans for the Commonwealth Games are being developed and stress-tested in consultation with the Department of Transport and Main Roads". In other words, expect cuts on all train lines other than the Gold Coast Line during and around the 2018 Commonwealth Games!

Recruitment - this is the key to resolving Rail Fail, and so far out of a target of 200 drivers, only 28 have been trained, and 107 recruited. This is not good. In other words, expect Rail Fail's interim timetables to continue well into 2019, and don't expect any service improvements (on top of the axed October 2016 timetable) this decade.

Services Delivered - this graph on page 10 shows that 99.69% of services were delivered in Q3 16/17. Unfortunately, this figure is highly misleading as it based on the current "interim timetable" (AKA 2017 timetable) with 333 axed train services, rather than the full October 2016 timetable.

NGR - No information on the disastrous New Generation Rollingstock project. Chronic lack of trains, and increasingly unreliable EMU trains are also impacting train services. Incidentally, the Queensland Auditor General "forgot" about a request (which was declined) to audit this project when asked in Parliament yesterday (18/07/2017). It seems that obstruction of the truth goes very high up the food chain in Queensland!

Timetable recovery - absolutely no information has been provided on the expected recovery of the full October 2016 timetable, and improvements thereafter. This is the absolutely number one piece of information that the public want to know. The omission of this data, shows that either the CRU are out of touch with commuters, or that the news is so "politically unsavoury" that it is being hidden, or that there is no intention of recovering the full timetable. Would the CRU (or QR) like to tell the customers when the full October 2016 timetable will be restored?

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Will the LNP axe Cross River Rail?

An LNP Politican?
As predicted (yet again) by BrizCommuter, it looks like the LNP, led by the clueless Tim Nicholls is refusing the rule out Cross River Rail (CRR) if they win the next Queensland state election. In other words they want to delay of axe CRR. What is the reasoning behind the LNP's problem with Brisbane's underground rail tunnel?

"It is just for the inner city". Quite clearly, this shows that the LNP don't understand the very basics of CRR's purpose. CRR adds an extra track pair through Brisbane's CBD. This in turn allows for approximately 50% more track capacity through the CBD, allowing for more frequent train services to and from the suburbs in both the peak and off-peak. For example CRR will allow for more train services on the Gold Coast, Beenleigh, Cleveland, Sunshine Coast, and Redcliffe Peninsula Lines. It allows the construction of a passenger train line along the Salisbury to Beaudesert Corridor to server Flagstone new town. It also theoretically allows for a train line to built along the North East Transportation Corridor / Trouts Rd, though of course the LNP would rather turn this into a road. Quite clearly, CRR will benefit commuters travelling to and from huge swaths of Brisbane's suburbs and conurbations. However, BrizCommuter would like to see track layouts at the Northern end of the tunnel also allow for increases in capacity on the Ferny Grove, Shorncliffe, and Doomben Line (with an extension to Hamilton Northshore).

"Lack of business case". There is a severe lack of transparency from the Palaszczuk Government, and this needs to be released as soon as possible. Of course, the $5.4b for CRR is only for the tunnel section. A few more $ billion are required to pay for additional track infrastructure around SE Queensland's train network to allow for the claimed capacity increases, and also for additional trains and crew. Much of this extra cost is due to SE Queensland's train network being vastly under-invested in the last decade when much of this work should have been done. Is this extra cost a reason to axe CRR? Of course not. Without CRR, Brisbane will descend further into being a congested mess, costing the economy far more $, than the cost of CRR.

"There isn't enough demand". This was recently discussed by BrizCommuter. Successive governments have damaged SE Queensland's rail patronage with high fares, infrequent services, overcrowded services, and of course #RailFail. There is considerable latent demand for public transport in Brisbane - if the service was affordable and frequent enough people would use it.

If the "destructive" Queensland LNP, led by Tim Nicholls have their way, Brisbane will continue to be laughing stock of Oceana, cancelling a critical rail tunnel at the same time that work is full swing in Sydney, Melbourne, and Auckland. With ludicrous policies such as adding a 7th car, the Cleveland Solution, and BaT Tunnel, and now questioning CRR, it is quite clear that LNP really don't have a clue when it comes to transport policy.

Saturday, July 15, 2017

Citytrain Un-response Unit?

Quarterly reports? 
Back in Early May, BrizCommuter blogged that the Citytrain Response Unit (CRU), designed to keep on eye on Queensland Rail's recovery from Rail Fail, appeared to be ineffective bureaucracy. Well, as usual, BrizCommuter appears to be correct. The CRU is suppose to be publishing quarterly reports of Queensland Rail's (QR) recovery, The first report was available on March 8th 2017. Thus the second quartile report would be expected in early June 2017. Well it is now mid-July 2017, and the second quarterly report is still to be published. This adds to the lack of transparency around #RailFail, the disastrous NGR project, and looming Commonwealth Games Rail Fail. In the absence of the CRU's report, here is BrizCommuter's report on QR's recovery from lack of driver induced Rail Fail.
  • Number of newly qualified drivers - unknown.
  • Numbers of drivers in training, and expected date of qualification - unknown. 
  • Number of qualified train drivers rejected from working for QR Citytrain - quite a few. 
  • Number of non-train driver external applicants hired - none.
  • Likelihood of Union/ALP meddling with recruitment process - very high.
  • Number of axed train services reinstated - none.
  • Expected timeline of axed train services being reinstated - unknown.
  • Likelihood of further hourly weekend train services (worst frequency in Oceana) - very high.
  • Likelihood of more Rail Fail (axed train services) during and around the Gold Coast 2018 Commonwealth Games - exceedingly high. 
  • Days that NGR trains have not entered passenger service - 511 (as at 15/7/17).
  • Days until NGR train enter passenger service - unknown, probably ages. 
  • Likelihood of NGR trains having toilets locked due to failing to meet DDA requirements - possible. 
  • Likelihood of the incompetent and secretive ALP Palaszczuk Government getting kicked out at the next election due to Rail Fail - reasonably high. 
  • Likelihood of a Nicholls LNP Government privatising QR and axing Cross River Rail - almost guaranteed.