Friday, June 3, 2016

Average journey speeds in SE Queensland

A recent post on Springfield Line users wanting an express service, created an idea for a blog post. What are the average journey speeds for each Queensland Rail (QR) Line in SE Queensland?

Ipswich Line - off-peak expresses required?
Timings are for peak and off-peak (which are usually the same) unless otherwise stated. Timings are inbound from stated line start point to Central station. Speed = Distance (km)/Time(h). Rounded to nearest kph. Ordered slowest to fastest peak period average speed. 

Doomben Line (9.9km) - 30kph
Ferny Grove Line (16.1km) - 31kph
Shorncliffe Line (20.7km)   34kph
Cleveland Line Manly peak all stations (24.1km) - 34kph
Beenleigh Line (40.1km) - 36kph
Airport Line (15.9km) - 40kph
Cleveland Line (37.3km) - Peak 41kph; Off Peak 36kph
Springfield Line (29.6km) - 43kph
Kippa-Ring Line (40.1km) - 44kph post-MBRL opening
Ipswich Line (38.6km) - Peak 46kph; Off Peak 40kph
Rosewood Line (57km) - Peak 47kph
Caboolture Line (49.6km) - 47kph; 58kph post-MBRL opening
Sunshine Coast Line/Nambour* (104.8km) - 55kph to 59kph; 58kph post-MBRL opening
Gold Coast Line (89.4km) - 68kph

* Journey time variable, typical am peak timings used. Gympie to Brisbane train excluded. 

Note: Speeds in the below discussion are average journey speed, not maximum speed.

The slowest average speeds are on the all stations shorter-suburban services (up to around 20km) - Doomben Line, Ferny Grove, and Shorncliffe Lines. This is to be expected. Running express services on these lines would have a negative implication on service frequency, and thus a negative effect on average journey time when you take into account waiting time. The only possible speed improvements on these lines would be less timetable padding.

In the medium-suburban service category (up to around 40km) it is quite a mixed bag. Beenleigh and Cleveland Line (Cleveland or Manly) all stations services are relatively slow at around 34kph to 36kph. Beenleigh Line services have been slowed down at Bethania in the 2014 timetable to allow Gold Coast Line services to overtake, and this will not improve unless there is a triplication or quadruplication between Kuraby and Beenleigh. Outer Beenleigh Line commuters can change to the faster Gold Coast Line at Altandi, but this does depend on both services running to time and the connection cannot be guaranteed (with a 29 minute wait if you miss the connection!) Outer Cleveland Line commuters have peak express services which are only slightly faster than the all stations services as the expresses cannot overtake the all stations services. These expresses stop quite early in the pm peak due to lack of trains.

The Springfield Line, Kippa-Ring Line (whenever it eventually opens), and Ipswich Line fare much better. The Springfield Line has the fastest medium distance all stations service in SE Queensland, so the expectation of an express service by Springfieldians is rather petty. There seems to be a need for express Ipswich Line off-peak services (15% faster), which can only occur if both the Ipswich and Springfield Line have off-peak frequency improvements.

For outer-suburban services (up to around 60km), the Caboolture and Rosewood Lines are fairly comparable in speed. The Caboolture Line will see an impressive 23% improvement in average speed whenever Moreton Bay Rail Link (MBRL) opens. Caboolture Line commuters should thus feel rather annoyed at the delays to MBRL. Due to the single track and low speed sections the Sunshine Coast Line (55 to 59kph) is far slower than the Gold Coast Line (68kph) which itself trundles slowly around the sharp curves of the Beenleigh Line. The Sunshine Coast Line average speed can only be improved by the continually delayed duplication and track re-alignment. The Gold Coast Line can only have average speeds improved by use of expensive tilting trains, or even more expensive straightening of the route through Brisbane's Southeastern suburbs. Neither of these are likely in the short term.

Interestingly, BrizCommuter had a quick look at average speeds of commuter lines in Japan where drivers drive to precision timetables, and track layouts often allow for a mixture of all station and express journey patterns. It seems that some faster all stations services manage up to around the 50kph mark, but services faster than an average speed of around 60kph typically require an additional "Limited Express" fare that adds a considerable sum to the cost of the commute. Food for thought!


  1. BTW, the caboolture line currently has the fastest all stops service, not springfield. That's mainly made up from the caboolture-petrie part whoever.

  2. Senior Queensland Rail executive's pay is also linked to "on time running" = extra fat in timetables ?
    It's embarassing in this day and age we have to dwell at every station, then hear excuses from QR/Translink that "people take their time in disembarking trains" or "there are more people catching ipswich trains that why its slower" crud

    1. I've not noted inordinate delays at stations. The place I see the most unreasonable delays are rail-bus connections. One I take regularly is a full 10 minutes. That only makes sense to someone who doesn't have to commute via it.

    2. You haven't lived at Indooroopilly mate. Every single express train I have witnessed waits for multiple minutes. That is an inordinate delay for no real reason.

    3. So, why doesn't anything get done about it? funny when nimby's and other people group together, or old grannies losing their hourly shoppers bus, a huge stink is made of it in today tonight / local rags. The times we sit there for ages, i look around and see nothing but oblivious commuters doing sudoku's and never see any facebook comments.

  3. Interesting. That's a lot faster than what I would have expected they were.

    Still, there is scope for a faster timetable and no reason for the current slowness other than artificial inflation of the on time running statistics, as applies in Sydney and Melbourne unfortunately.

    In Sydney, I've found a source for the effect on delays. Adobe page 175:

    It is non zero, the effect on slowing down the traffic has also been non zero:


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