Tuesday, June 7, 2011

New Timetables - how did they go?

The new timetables on the Ipswich, Rosewood, Richlands, Caboolture, and Sunshine Coast Lines were introduced yesterday 06/06/2011. If you read the Courier Mail's article you would think that the world has ended, however todays comments section shows a lot of positive comments about the most significant timetable changes in 15 years. Most of those complaining seem to be either suffering "I want an express from my stationitis", have serious change management issues, or don't understand that trains cannot overtake each other on the same track. Probably the most valid comments (aside from the Sunshine Coast Line issues that we will get to) are car drivers unable to get through level crossings on the Caboolture Line due to the 18tph am peak frequencies. About time the Queensland Government has a kick up the posterior to start building over-bridges!

Observations of train crowding seem to show that train loadings are generally lower than in the previous timetable. Commuters will adjust their travelling times slightly, however there will still continue to be some very busy trains. There will always a "peak within a peak" just after common work finish times, or prior to common work start times. This will  cause uneven loadings even with the best of timetables. There may be some need in the near future to add additional services on the Ipswich and Caboolture Lines around these busier times. However, the requirement to fit in Ekka loop services, Tilt Trains, and Travel Trains are a thorn in the side of schedulers. Areas that may need timetable adjustments in the next few years:

  • More early am peak capacity - early am peak loads always seems to be underestimated by TransLink & QR.
  • More counter peak direction capacity - particularly to/from Indooroopilly, Toowong, and Milton. 
  • More services around the "peak within the peaks" - e.g 6 or 9 min pm peak Ipswich/Richlands frequencies instead of current 12mins around the busier times. 

Now for the Sunshine Coast Line. As part of the consultation process the draft 5:04pm service from Central to Nambour was requested to be moved later to be more convenient for CBD workers. This occurred, and the service was moved to a 5:22pm departure time. Unfortunately, this train is 12 mins after the previous Caboolture Line service, and at a time more convenient for everyman and his dog. Thus it was no surprise that this service was going to be somewhat popular - 70+ standing passengers per carriage popular! (Although this is no worse than the 07:06 from Ferny Grove at busy times of the year, and outer suburban commutes on may other rail systems around the world). To add to the overcrowding, this train runs from Richlands, and due to the poor counter peak frequency fills up with lots of commuters from Indooroopilly, Toowong, and Milton. Thankfully, there are few things that can, and probably will be done in the near future to solve these problems. Allowing track slots for Ekka loop services,  overtaking being limited to between Virginia and Lawnton, limited tracks slots north of Caboolture, and resourcing extra trains and crew are issues that will affect the outcome of these changes. Here are some of BrizCommuter's suggestions:

  • Move the Nambour train back to 5:10pm from Central.
  • Run extra counter peak services from Richlands or Darra, and make the 5:22pm from Central start from Roma Street instead of Richlands.
  • Run an extra Nambour service 3 mins after the 5:22pm from Central (which would terminate at Caboolture) on the same stopping pattern. This would only delay the preceding Petrie all stations service by 1 minute into Petrie. By running this extra service immediately after the 5:22pm from Central, should considerably help minimise crowding. 
  • Run an extra Nambour service 6 mins before the 5:22pm from Central (which would terminate at Caboolture) on the same stopping pattern. This service would depart Central at 5:16pm. 

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