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. 

Monday, July 10, 2017

CG2018 Transport Management Plan - Brushing #RailFail under the carpet?

The Queensland Government recently published the Transport Management Plan for the Gold Coast 2018 Commonwealth Games. BrizCommuter was hoping this would address the following concerns about Heavy Rail Public Transport:
  • The train frequencies expected both to/from the Gold Coast during the Games? Note: previous claims of bi-directional 8tph service are pretty much impossible without slowing down trains.
  • How the extra Gold Coast Line services will manage due to #RailFail's ongoing lack of drivers?
  • How the extra Gold Coast Line services will manage due to delays to New Generation Rollingstock (NGR) trains?
  • The extend of train service reductions across the rest of Queensland Rail's (QR) CityTrain network due to the extra Gold Coast Line services. 
So how much of these rather important points were in the GC2018 Transport Management Plan? Nil, nothing, nada. Despite road based transport being given its own chapter, Heavy Rail has been given a single page, which is completely lacking in detail, and fails to mention the issues with lack of drivers and train. It seems that the Palaszczuk Government, and Minister for Education and Minister for Tourism, Major Events and the Commonwealth Games Kate Jones seem to be continuing to brush Rail Fail under the carpet hoping no-one will notice.

With there being minimal public transport legacy from the 2018 Commonwealth Games, and transport mainly based around park and ride, it looks like Queensland will be holding the least sustainable Commonwealth Games in terms of transport policy for decades. Expect the M1 to be chaos! 

The GC2018 Transport Management Plan is downloadable from here:
http://public.intelligencebank.com/03e845b388c040f7c5ddb4db8707e73d/pubwewWdC.html

Sunday, July 9, 2017

NGR - Not Going Right

A timely press release from Rail Back on Track's Robert Dow, says it all about the disastrous New Generation Rollingstock (NGR) train project...

9th July 2017

Not Going Right trains - community service public information campaign gains steam

Good Morning,

Days since NGR 701 towed to Wulkuraka is now 505.  Five hundred and five days in which the fundamental design problems with the trains have only been given scant regard until recently. It has only been the threats of legal action by disability groups that has forced a tacit acknowledgement that there are problems with DDA compliance and it needs fixing - we now have the ' Fixing the NGR trains ', another monumental blunder along with ' Fixing the trains '.

It will probably be many months still before we see these NGR trains in revenue passenger service.  Is anyone concerned about that?  We are.  This is a shocking abysmal failure by the former Newman Government, followed up with more failure and bumble by the Palaszczuk Government.

Serious questions have to be asked as to why such a botched design was ordered in the first place by the Newman Government.  This explains in part why mainstream media in SEQ appear to be reluctant to report on the NGR botch as it hits back at the Newman Government and the  gross mismanagement by the LNP and their transport bureaucracy.  The ALP have not covered themselves in glory either with their constant attempts at cover-up (surprising) and general frozen at the wheel approach, not only for NGR fail and but rail fail generally.

We have been forced into our community service public information campaign re the NGR (Next Generation Rollingstock a.k.a. Not Going Right) trains because Queensland Citizens deserve to know the sheer level of incompetence and managed deceit that lies within the corridors of power and fumble bumble bureaucracy and maladministration of this state. They deserve to know that the rail fail shambles, compounded by NGR fail, will certainly impact the 2018 Commonwealth Games as more reductions in service on their lines to pump up the Gold Coast line services.

We are so looking forward to the state election.

Best wishes,
Robert

Robert Dow
Administration
admin@backontrack.org
RAIL Back On Track https://backontrack.org

Saturday, June 24, 2017

QR deletes negative Facebook reviews

QR's new social media strategy
Back in December 2016, BrizCommuter ran a tongue in cheek blog post about Queensland Rail's (QR) plummeting review score on Facebook. QR's rating was last seen at an abysmal 1.5 out of 5, thanks to stacks of angry passengers infuriated with poor timetables, broken down trains, poor customer information, axed services due to Rail Fail, hourly train services at Easter and weekends, and badly managed rail replacement services (the list could go on and on). In fact the only positive ratings were believed to be fake ratings from relatives of QR staff! In order to avoid the truth about what happens when rail service providers have utter contempt for passengers, QR have recently deleted the facebook reviews (including 650+ 1 star reviews) and related negative comments from their Facebook page.

In a bit to somehow make passengers think that QR aren't incompetent, QR have decided to change their social media strategy to wide angle photos of dogs, or donuts. Have QR forgotten that they are a rail operator?

Additionally, QR keep deleting service information posts once they are out of date (rather than keeping them in the timeline), thus deleting all the negative posts. Thankfully, BrizCommuter saved the negative comments from the Easter Rail Fail, so that they are archived indefinitely.  Ouch - the truth hurts!