Wednesday, October 28, 2015

New Sector 1 Draft Timetables - the verdict

TransLink and Queensland Rail (QR) have just released draft timetables due to changes required for the opening of the Moreton Bay Rail Link (MBRL) to Kippa-Ring (Redcliffe) in mid-2016.

This is BrizCommuter's review of the good and bad of these new timetables:

Sunshine Coast Line
Good: 5 minutes faster peak journey times.
Bad: Off-peak weekday services only every 90 minutes. Bus connections displayed poorly in the draft timetable.

Caboolture Line 
Good: 5 minutes faster peak journey times, and 13 minutes faster off-peak journey times for stations beyond Petrie. All Caboolture Line trains runs express between Bowen Hills and Petrie, calling only at Eagle Junction.
Bad: 30 minute frequency off-peak service.

MBRL / Kippa-Ring Line
Good: All services that previously started or terminated at Petrie appear to now start or terminate at Kippa-Ring. These trains run express between Bowen Hills and Northgate, calling only at Eagle Junction,
Bad: 30 minute frequency off-peak service for MBRL stations and stations between Petrie and Northgate (exclusive). Worse late/shoulder am peak timetable for stations between Petrie and Northgate compared to the current timetable.

Shorncliffe Line
Good: Additional peak services will run from Northgate to the CBD (mainly Roma Street). This 8tph peak service (every 7.5 minutes) will resolve BrizCommuter's previous concerns that Albion, Wooloowin, Toombul, and Nundah would have up to a 82% reduction in peak service. Also, additional weekend services will run from Northgate maintaining a 4tph off-peak service.
Bad: Why can't the additional off-peak services run to/from Shorncliffe? Also, see the conclusion.

The new timetables are a mixed bag. For longer distance commuters on the Sunshine Coast, Caboolture, and Kippa-Ring Lines, journey times have been reduced. However the 30 minute off-peak services at most stations beyond Northgate are disappointing. More than $1b has been spent on building the MBRL for only a train every half an hour in the off-peak - only in Queensland!

The previous fears that Albion, Wooloowin, Toombul, and Nundah would be left with an abysmal peak service has thankfully been alleviated by extra trains starting and finishing at Northgate. Credit needs to be given to QR for achieving this. However, given that there are currently not enough trains to run a peak timetable (resulting on overcrowded peak services on the Ferny Grove and Cleveland Lines) then where are these extra trains coming from? So far not a single Next Generation Rolling (NGR) stock train has arrived in Australia. BrizCommuter thus continues to assume that this new timetable and the opening of MBRL is dependant on the delivery of the NGRs. The peak services on the suburban tracks which the Shorncliffe/Northgate services share with Ferny Grove, Airport, and Doomben Lines will now be running 22tph in the am peak. This is 2tph short of the maximum track capacity, and possibly the highest frequency train service in Australia. Whilst impressive, QR may struggle to run a reliable service.

With the improvements to the Shorncliffe Line, commuters on other lines may also be expecting improvements. When will Ferny Grove and Cleveland Line commuters see the overcrowded 3-car services replaced by 6-car trains? When will the Ferny Grove Line's irregular 6tph evening peak service be turned into a regular/even 8tph peak service? When will the Cleveland Line see it's evening peak express service extended later? What has happened to the review of Ipswich and Springfield Line services (where there are still hourly services on Sunday mornings)?

Caboolture Line draft timetable:
Sunshine Coast draft timetable:
Inner City draft timetable (excludes Ferny Grove and Bowen Hills originating/finishing services):

Update 03/11/15
Kappa-Ring (MBRL) Line draft timetable:

Wednesday, October 14, 2015


Brisbane City Council always try and make their bus network compete with trains. Unfortunately in this case, they took it a bit too literary.

Here is the route 345 bus getting a bit too cosy with a boom gate at Alderley Level Crossing on South Pine Road. This incident caused disruption to the Ferny Grove Line and surrounding roads.

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Is Brisbane the village idiot of the western world?

42 reasons why Brisbane & SE Queensland is the village idiot of the western world (and these are just related to transport in the last 8 years).
  1. Building multiple new towns in the middle of nowhere (Flagstone, Yarrabilba, Ripley, Aura) with only imaginary "planned" high frequency public transport. 
  2. Not building a station box for Cross River Rail as part of the Queen's Wharf casino development. 
  3. Toll road tunnels that are so expensive that drivers avoid them, and thus the tunnel operators end up in debt. 
  4. Failure to build the connections between Legacy Way tunnel and the Inner Northern Busway.
  5. Extending the Inner Northern Busway to RBWH, but not extending the route 66 to RBWH for 7 months - resulting in up to 55 minute waits to board a bus that isn't already full. 
  6. Brisbane City Council running what is quite possibly the world's most inefficient, illogical, and confusing to use bus network. 
  7. Vast swathes of Brisbane with no high frequency public transport (e.g Centenary Suburbs, Old Northern Road corridor, Bulimba).
  8. Complete lack of half-decent rail feeder bus services. 
  9. Brisbane City Council being highly obstructive to TransLink's attempts to resolve 6, 7, and 8. 
  10. Brisbane City Council continuing to be in denial about the state of the bus network.
  11. Failing to construct Cross River Rail - now in the planning stage for the 3rd time (yawn)! 
  12. The ridiculous BaT tunnel design bypassing a key interchange at Park Road.
  13. Lord Mayor Graham Quirk trying to spruik the BaT tunnel to federal government - after it was axed by the state government. 
  14. The ridiculous Cleveland Solution suggested by Council of Mayors (SEQ).
  15. The completely unnecessary City2Suburbs tunnel suggested by Council of Mayors (SEQ). 
  16. Go card readers and fare gates that fail, a lot.
  17. Lack of daily fare options in Brisbane - resulting in annoyed tourists. 
  18. The rortable "9 then free" weekly go card cap, that completely ignores the zones used. 
  19. Fares so high that they discourage public transport use. 
  20. Fare structure that favour environmentally unsustainable long distance commuting over environmentally sustainable short distance commuting. 
  21. Not enough trains to run the peak timetable - resulting in Ferny Grove and Cleveland trains leaving behind passengers.
  22. Charging peak fares for off-peak services on Ekka (Wednesday) public holiday.
  23. Running no buses in routes Redlands on Ekka (Monday) public holiday despite it not being a public holiday in Brisbane where people would like to get to work and university. 
  24. Failure to Extremely last minute funding and construction the Gold Coast Light Rail (G:link) from Gold Coast University Hospital to Helensvale (to connect with the train line), and even then via a sub-optimal route. 
  25. Full buses, more full buses, and even more full buses. 
  26. Purchasing new trains (Next Generation Rollingstock) with insufficient doors for high frequency suburban use. 
  27. Designing trains with a lack of sensible advertising space inside. 
  28. The Northern Busway having so many traffic lights it slows down buses compared to when they used Lutwych Road. 
  29. Building "gold plated, over engineered" busways at similar costs to railway lines.  
  30. Duplicating the Ferny Grove Line, but not introducing timetable improvements for another 2 years.
  31. Failure to extend the Doomben Line to Northshore Hamilton development. 
  32. Frequent misleading use of the terms "World Class" and "New World City".
  33. Triplicating the Beenleigh Line between Salisbury and Kuraby instead of quadrupling it - thus preventing 15 minute counter-peak and off-peak services to Beenleigh and Gold Coast. 
  34. Not electrifying the 4th track between Corinda and Darra. 
  35. Not duplicating Coomera to Helensvale along with the rest of the Gold Coast Line duplication (which should have never have been built single track in the first place).
  36. Failure to extend the Gold Coast Line further or build CAMCOS to Sunshine Coast - despite the large population bases. 
  37. Brisbane City Council persisting on the pointless widening of Kingsford Smith Drive - wasn't an overpriced toll road tunnel just built to the airport Mr Quirk?
  38. Airtrain having an infrequent and overpriced monopoly to Brisbane Airport. 
  39. 30 minute frequency off-peak services on weekends - as opposed to 15 minutes in Perth and 10 minutes in Melbourne! 
  40. 30 minutes daytime off-peak service on new train lines to Springfield, and probably Kippa-Ring. 
  41. Lack of public consultation on trains services to Kippa-Ring (Moreton Bay Rail Link), and feeder bus services.
  42. Lack of transparency related to patronage figures - what happened to the QR Passenger Load Survey???
It seems that Queensland breeds incompetence of the highest order when it comes to transport planning, and sadly there are no signs of improvement. 

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Aura, or Black Hole?

More urban sprawl - going somewhere here
The huge Aura (previously known as Caloundra South) residential development on the Sunshine Coast has recently been announced. This new town will eventually house 50,000 people, a considerable portion of which will be commuting the long distance to Brisbane.

In the UK, when a large number of new towns were built, they were all built on train lines with at least a 30 minute frequency train service. Unfortunately in backwards SE Queensland, new towns and urban sprawl continues to be built with no train line. This forces residents to rely on cars, causing increasing road congestion as commuters travel to and from Brisbane. Springfield has only recently received its train line, and North Lakes will get a train line in 2016. Flagstone doesn't look like it will get a train line for decades, "in the middle of nowhere" Yarrabilba will never see decent public transport, and now Aura is looking like it will be train-less public transport black hole for a long time. High frequency bus services in these new towns also fail to materialise, just look at Springfield's poor bus services.

So what is the problem with Aura's public transport?

  • Sunshine Coast Line duplication - successive governments have failed to duplicate the Sunshine Coast Line beyond Beerburrum and Lanesborough. This limits both peak frequency and off-peak frequency (shared with freight trains) on the Sunshine Coast Line. Currently there is no date set for duplication, and no funding for this duplication. 
  • CAMCOS (Caloundra and Maroochydore Line) - again, successive governments have failed to build this line which would serve The Sunshine Coast in a much more useful manner than the current Sunshine Coast Line which mainly serves hinterland villages. CAMCOS would actually pass through the Aura development. CAMCOS currently has no date set for construction, and no funding. 
  • Caboolture Line capacity - this line currently runs 18tph, 2 kph short of it's maximum capacity. Adding Moreton Bay Rail Link (MBRL) to the mix in 2016 will result in more overcrowded trains. Improved signalling (ERTMS Level 2), more trains, and improved turn back/stabling facilities would allow for a 20% improvement. After that, the expensive Trout's Rd (Northwest Transportation Corridor) would be required to add more train capacity from Caboolture and the Sunshine Coast to Brisbane. 
  • It does not appear that the developer has been forced to pay for rail infrastructure to serve its development (unlike UK and European development policy). 
  • The lack of the above, will result in car reliance in Aura, and thus more congestion on the already congested Bruce Highway. 
What is the solution?
  • Developer funding - the developers of any new towns or urban sprawl need to be forced to pay a considerable amount towards rail infrastructure, as occurs in the UK and Europe. 
  • Government funding - both state and federal governments need to play catch up in public transport funding, to avoid the spiral of wasteful road funding. 
  • Urban planning - a bit late here for Aura, Yarrabilba, and Flagstone - but urban planning in SE Queensland needs to be based around sustainable short distance commutes, not unsustainable urban sprawl and long distance commutes. 
It is now down the Queensland state government, and federal government to decide whether Aura will either be a public transport black hole, or whether a great opportunity to invigorate the Sunshine Coast's public transport system will be realised.