Thursday, October 6, 2016

Redcliffe Peninsula Line - What No Expresses?

Within a few hours of the Redcliffe Peninsula Line opening, commuters had already caught the terrible affliction known as "I want an express from my stationitis". For new BrizCommuter readers, below is the dictionary definition of "I want an express from my stationitis":

I want an express from my stationitis
1. Affliction in which commuters think that they should have a frequent express train service from their nearest station to home, to their nearest station for work.
2. Absolutely no regard for the fact that other people with different journeys also need to get to work.
3. Involves a lack of knowledge of how railways actually work.  

The Redcliffe Peninsula Line train services are an extension of the previous Petrie all stations services. The Caboolture Line, which it shares some tracks with, runs express from Petrie to Northgate saving 9 minutes. Both lines run express from Northgate to Bowen Hills (calling at Eagle Junction). saving around 5 minutes.

Due to the previous, and historic timetables, and some Caboolture Line services running from Nambour (or even Gympie), it was sensibly decided that the Caboolture Line services would continue to run express from Petrie to Northgate, and the Redcliffe Peninsula Line would serve all stations between Petrie and Northgate. During the busiest part of the am peak, both Caboolture and Redcliffe Peninsula Lines run every 6 minutes. This is a higher frequency than most other Queensland Rail (QR) Lines. It also should be noted that the average journey speed of Redcliffe Peninsula Line services is much faster than the Beenleigh and Cleveland Line which are of similar length (approx. 40km from Central). Despite the relatively high speed, and high service frequency, some Redcliffe Peninsula Line commuters are still asking why they don't have an express service?

Lets look at the constraints and of requirements of the Caboolture, Sunshine Coast, and Redcliffe Peninsula Line services (Sector 1):

  • These lines share a track pair between Northgate and the CBD, with a limit of a train every 3 minutes (20tph). 
  • These lines share 3 tracks between Lawton and Northgate, allowing for a peak express service on one track, a peak stopping/all stations service on the second track, and a counter-peak service on the third track. 
  • Express trains cannot overtake stopping trains on the same track, and express trains will catch up with stopping trains on the same track (also taking into account 3 minute train separation).
  • All passengers expect a high frequency train service and fast journey times (which can counteract each other). 
So if some Redcliffe Peninsula Line passengers want an express service what are the alternative options?
  1. Run Caboolture Line express, Redcliffe Peninsula Line express, and Petrie all stations services every 9 minutes. Outcome: more express services, but 33% reduction in service frequency at each station. This would likely cause overcrowding on Caboolture and Sunshine Coast services. Turn-back of trains at Petrie may be problematic.  
  2. Alternate Caboolture Line express, Redcliffe Peninsula Line all stations, Caboolture Line all stations, Redcliffe Peninsula Line express services, each running every 12 minutes. Outcome: operationally difficult, unreliable, would cause confusion, uneven train loadings, more overcrowding on some services.
  3. Caboolture Line services to stop at more stations, and Redcliffe Peninsula Line to stop at less stations between Petrie and Northgate. Outcome: slower journeys and more overcrowding for Caboolture and Sunshine Coast Line commuters. 
  4. Advertise that Redcliffe Peninsula Line passengers can (in am peak) change to Caboolture Line expresses at Petrie and get to work 3 minutes earlier. Note: this is already the case for those in the know! Outcome: debatable as to whether changing trains to save 3 minutes is worth it, risk of not getting seat after changing from Redcliffe Peninsula to Caboolture Line service. 
Realistically, there is no "golden bullet" solution, and it is unlikely that there will be any significant changes to the timetable, other than more 6-car trains, and increases in frequency from every 12 to 6 minutes during the am shoulder peak, and pm peak periods. ETCS signalling, plus more trains and train crew, may allow for a 20% increase in frequency. 

Significant improvements in the am peak will only be possible when Cross River Rail is eventually opened. Even then, due to track constraints, the service improvements may not make up the patronage increases over time. The Trouts Road Line from Brisbane CBD to Strathpine would allow for a 100% increase in service frequency on both the Caboolture, Sunshine Coast, and Redcliffe Peninsula Lines, but is not even a pipe dream. 

At the end of the day, the best way to get to work faster, is to live closer to your place of work!  


  1. The golden solution is a trouts rd corridor to strathpine and an extra two tracks between strathpine and petrie(ideally caboolture).
    More trains from caboolture, can have more trains run to redcliffe with the possibility of having expresses.

  2. What they should be asking for is a faster service between petrie and kippa ring. Two minutes could be shaved off the journey. The speed boards are amusingly low. (must be due to signal spacing, because its not track quality, curve radius or LX issues.)


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