Sunday, September 1, 2013

Brisbane - Congestion Capital

1 train = all these cars and more!
This photo is taken at 5pm, looking at the traffic queue approaching the Samford Rd & Wardell Street intersection. This photo is taken 300m back from the intersection. Samford Road happens to parallel the Ferny Grove Line between Alderley and Ferny Grove. So what is being done to fix this road congestion?

Campbell Newman's LNP government is spending $60m on "upgrading the intersection" (the previous ALP government wanted to spend $90m!). With the grand total on one extra left turn lane in the outbound direction, this $60m is likely to only make a small dent (circa a few minutes less queuing) in reducing the road congestion along this important transport corridor.

So what else can be done to reduce the road congestion? Well, $100m was spent on duplicating the Ferny Grove Line, with the duplication opening in April 2012. Unfortunately, the failure of the LNP state government / TransLink / Queensland Rail (delete as applicable) to introduce the sector 2 train timetables has resulted in no extra train services taking advantage of the increase in capacity available due to the duplication. Even, with restricted train capacity through the CBD, an extra 2 trains per hour (tph) could be operated in the evening peak. 2 half full trains (500 passengers each) per hour would eliminate 15 minutes worth of free flowing car traffic from 2 traffic lanes - in other words all of the cars in the photo and more, a 25% reduction in traffic! As we can see the authorities are not getting their priorities right when it comes to solving congestion along Samford Road. It is still unknown when the sector 2 train timetables will be introduced, and whether they will have the "optimal" 8 tph timetabled.

So can rail help reduce congestion further along this transport corridor? Yes, but it would require construction of Cross Rail Rail and the elimination of major level crossings to allow more trains to be run. Unfortunately, the likely next Prime Minister, Tony Abbott is currently refusing the fund Cross River Rail, instead only funding more road projects and a rail freight tunnel. Failure to build Cross River Rail will result in train capacity through the CBD reaching it's maximum between 2016 and 2020, resulting in increased road congestion along transport corridors parallel to trains lines (such as Samford Road, Pacific Highway, Wynnum Road, Cleveland Road, etc, etc). It is well documented from around the world that more road construction eventually results in more road congestion, and thus is seems that Brisbane is heading for the death spiral of costly road congestion and trauma.

1 comment:

  1. Interesting comments by Rail Back on Track in Today's Courier-Mail. It may go someway to explaining why congestion is just getting worse and why there doesn't seem to be any real attempt to reduce it.

    "But Robert Dow from commuter advocacy group Back on Track said he believed the falling patronage on trains was part of a deliberate strategy to ease pressure on the rail system.

    "'Falling patronage is artificial because it's induced by high-cost fares. I think that's been quite a deliberate strategy since 2010, to make it costly in order to control patronage,'" Mr Dow said.

    "'That's not going to last forever because we're looking at an increase in fuel prices, so patronage will climb.'"

    Now that it seems likely we'll have the backward looking Tony Abbott in as PM, we can kiss good-bye to the cross-river rail scheme (unless the State Government fronts up - which I doubt the current one will, they're priority is their cushy new office development in George Street), and we will see more of "these" types of measures to reduce pressure on the network. It will all come unstuck when fuel prices ultimately rise and they will. We may rue the day that Newman selected the vacilating Scott Emerson as Transport Minister. So far he has shown no backbone in standing up to vested interests (BCC being just one).


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