Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Great Expectations

Now that Queensland has a surprise new ALP government, what expectations are there for public transport?    

Train Network Capacity Enhancements

ERTMS Level 2      Source:
As discussed in the previous blog post, it is critical to get a cost effective (note: not the cheapest option) new rail tunnel under Brisbane moving. The solution needs to resolve the flaws of the culled BaT - lack of Boggo Rd/Park Rd interchange, lack of Yeerongpilly portal, and lack of Trouts Rd Line stubs. Failure to get this moving will result in further delays as the next government, which is likely to be the LNP, will change everything yet again. 

Given the fact that any new rail tunnel will not be ready until at least 2022, then plan B needs to be enabled. Higher capacity ERTMS Level 2 should be installed throughout SE Queensland's passenger rail network. Higher capacity signalling, combined with track enhancements in critical locations (e.g. reduction of single track sections on the Cleveland Line, extra tracks to allow Gold Coast Trains to overtake Beenleigh Line trains), and of course sufficient trains would allow for at least a 20% increase in maximum network capacity. None of these efforts and expenses would be wasted post Cross River Rail opening. ERTMS would also allow for improved safety, and allow for the elimination of costly train guards (many of whom could be re-trained as drivers). 

Progress of level crossing elimination is also required, which has benefits for both road and rail users. 

New Trains

Thanks to previous ALP government not ordering enough trains, there are insufficient trains for optimal peak services, resulting in issues such as overcrowded 3-car units on the Ferny Grove and Cleveland Lines, and strangely early finish to the pm peak expresses on the Cleveland Line. Whilst 75 6-car Next Generation Rollingstock (NGR) trains have been belatedly ordered by the ousted LNP government, these are also intended to replace the ageing EMU fleet of trains. Taking into account extra trains requirements for Moreton Bay Rail Link (MBRL), then there may still not be enough new trains for an optimal peak service. Thus at some point during the next 3 years, it may be a good idea to add more trains onto the NGR order. Otherwise SE Queensland's long running lack of trains issues with continue.  


SE Queensland continues to have some of the world's highest fares, for a somewhat mediocre transport system. The high fares have decreased public patronage, increased road congestion, and increased taxpayer subsidy. The latter what the complete opposite of what was intended when the previous ALP government increased fares by 15% per annum. There are also limited day ticket options, no concessions for job seekers, and the botched tertiary transport card implementation to deal with.  The fare system needs a complete overhaul, with fares designed to attract people to public transport helping to increase fare box revenue. BrizCommuter is hopeful of some progress in this area. 

Bus Network Review

Brisbane's inefficient and confusing bus network has been covered many times on this blog, and is in a desperate need for a major overhaul. Concerningly, the ALP are against the privatisation of Brisbane Transport, who didn't want to play ball in the ousted LNP governments bus network review failure. It is also concerning that bus network reviews can loose votes - the few who suffer "cuts" are a lot noisier than the masses who will have improved high frequency services. Thus a high level of public education is required for a successful bus network redesign without political fallout. Given the ALP's stance on privatisation, and lack of parliamentary majority, BrizCommuter is pessimistic that we will see the much needed bus network redesign for Brisbane.

Aside from connecting the Inner Northern Busway to Legacy Way tunnel, BrizCommuter doubts that further busway network expansion is required at this time. However, new urban sprawl developments should be designed with low cost busways, as found in Runcorn UK. 

Premier Anastasia Palaszczuk and new Minister for Transport Jackie Trad have a lot of work to make SE Queensland's public transport "World Class".

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