Monday, October 24, 2016

QR's Interim Timetables - Back to the 1990s?

The new QR interim timetable
Queensland Rail (QR) have announced their interim timetable with many service cuts, which will run indefinitely until they have enough trained drivers to run the existing timetables. This is due a combination of poor decision making from three successive Queensland governments (from both sides of politics), and poor planning within QR. This has resulted in insufficient drivers and trains to run the new train timetables since the opening of Moreton Bay Rail Link / Redcliffe Peninsula Line.

So what are the changes in the interim timetable?

Well for starters, there is a different timetable for Tuesday to Thursday, and Friday. This will confuse the hell out of passengers. Whilst there are no changes on Monday Oct 24th, there is no mention of what will happen next Monday.

Tuesday to Thursdays
  • More than 40 train services cut or altered. 
  • Early morning Cancellations on Ferny Grove, Shorncliffe, Inner North (Northgate), and Cleveland Line, resulting in 30 minute gaps - bad for shift workers!
  • Cancelled inbound am peak services on  Ferny Grove, Shorncliffe, Caboolture, Redliffe Peninsula, Beenleigh, and Springfield Lines - highly likely to cause overcrowding on following services!
  • Daytime off-peak cancellations on the Ferny Grove, Beenleigh, Springfield, Inner North, and Ipswich Lines, with gaps up to 60 minutes!
  • Cancelled outbound pm peak services on Ferny Grove, Ipswich, and Cleveland Lines. Cancellation of the  5:03 Bowen Hills to Cleveland express service will upset a lot of passengers.  
  • Cancelled evening off-peak services on Ipswich and Inner North Lines, with gaps up to 60 minutes. 
  • More than 50 train services cut or altered. 
  • Early morning cancellations on Ferny Grove, Inner North, and Beenleigh Lines - bad for shift workers again. 
  • Quite severe am peak cuts on Ferny Grove Line - very likely to cause full trains, leaving passengers behind at inner-Ferny Grove Line stations due to cancellation of 07:10am and 07:25am ex-Ferny Grove trains.  
  • Cuts to am peak services on the already recently cut Inner North services - passengers at Nundah and Toombul will be very unhappy.
  • Massive cuts to daytime 15 minute off-peak services on Ferny Grove, Cleveland, and Beenleigh Lines, and hour gaps on Doomben Line - back to 1990s era timetable?
  • Cuts to pm peak services  on the Shorncliffe, Springfield, and Cleveland Lines, including an unacceptable 30 minute gap for some inner-Cleveland Line passengers. 
  • Cancellation of some evening services to Northgate. 
  • Who knows???

The interim timetable is terrible for shift workers, daytime off-peak users, and some peak service changes will result in either unacceptable waits between services, or even overcrowded full trains leaving passengers behind (as will probably be observed on Friday at Windsor at 7:39 and 7:54 if any press photographers want to get some piccies).  The Friday timetable in particular takes Brisbane back to 1990s era timetables with 30 minutes off-peak. Passengers at Northgate and Toombul who have just had their peak train service cut by over 50%, will have even more train services cut.

It is very concerning that QR or TransLink have not specified an end date to this interim timetable.  Just when commuters were expecting service improvements due to the belated New Generation Rollingstock (NGR) trains coming online, it looks like they will have to wait even longer due to lack of drivers. This is bad news in particular for Cleveland Line users who have a bizarrely early finish to the evening express service pattern and subsequent overcrowding on following services - in fact the last express service has been cancelled as part of the cuts.

An increasingly common scene on QR's network
It is also concerning that it has been mentioned that further cancellations can be expected on top of the interim timetable service cuts for at least the next few weeks. This continues the uncertainty as to whether commuters will actually be able to get to work or appointments on time, or be able to pick top kids from daycare before it closes. It is totally unacceptable that passengers have to check TransLink's (often incorrect) website daily to work out how they can get to work by train and not be late.

With so many train commuters lives being messed around, this situation has destroyed confidence in QR, the State Government, and SE Queensland public transport network. Commuters are also unhappy that they have not been offered any compensation, with commuters just expected to "suck it up". BrizCommuter expects that a few commuters may even go back to driving cars to work due to this fiasco.

Interim timetable (well, list of service cuts):
BrizCommuter's list of services that may be overcrowded:

Addendum - Mon 24th Oct - 8pm

During BrizCommuter's two peak period commutes today, there were no announcements at stations or on-board trains. TransLink's social media channels (Facebook and Twitter) have at the time of writing, no mention of tomorrow's changes. QR only updated their social media channels during late afternoon. TransLink's list of service cuts has inaccurate information on following train services.

It is likely that the majority of commuters are unaware of tomorrows service changes, and quite a few commuters will be in for a shock when their expected train does not materialise tomorrow, and the following train is overcrowded. Even fewer commuters will be aware that the service changes on Friday are completely different from Tuesday to Thursday. It seems that QR and TransLink's poor customer information is making the interim timetable situation even worse.

Addendum - Wed 26th Oct - 6am

Unaffected train services were observed to much quieter than usual yesterday (Tue), though overcrowding was reported on some services as a result of the cuts, as well as the usual overcrowded services (on Ferny Grove and Shorncliffe/Inner North Lines). Maybe some passengers have given up on public transport due to this debacle? Amusingly, UBER were seen giving out $20 off vouchers outside South Bank station. 

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