Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Inland Rail vs Cross River Rail - The Irony

Cross River Rail - no federal funding,
no bi-partisan support
In the 2017 Federal Budget, $8.4b of additional funding was announced for the Melbourne to Brisbane Inland Rail Project freight line, but no funding was made available for Brisbane's urgently required $5.4b Cross River Rail. Claims have been made that the Inland Rail corridor from Kagaru (near Beaudesert) to Toowoomba may allow for train services from Toowoomba to Brisbane in around half the time of current train services,  allowing train services to compete with cars. Train services may also be able to call at new suburban stations along the existing part of the Inland Rail corridor between Kagaru (near Beaudesert) and Salisbury, such as Flagstone (New Town), Greenbank, Browns Plains, and Acacia Ridge. Unfortunately, there is one slight problem - lack of Cross River Rail.

Based on the October 2016 Timetable, 20 trains per hour (tph) should run into Brisbane from the Gold Coast, Beenleigh, and Cleveland Lines, running via South Bank. This may be pushed to 22tph in coming years after the opening of the Helensvale to Coomera duplication and eventual resolution of Rail Fail. A maximum of 24tph is possible - unreliably with current signalling, reliably with ETCS signalling. This means that there is realistically no more space for additional passenger train services coming from Toowoomba via the Inland Rail Corridor, or the existing rail corridor between Kagaru and Salisbury.

Building Cross River Rail, preferably with an extra track between Salisbury and the portal at Dutton Park, would allow for train services from Toowoomba via the Inland Rail Corridor, or the existing corridor between Kagaru/Beaudesert and Salisbury to run via South Bank into the CBD (note: standard gauge trains can only run as far as Roma Street), allowing Gold Coast and Beenleigh Lines to run via Cross River Rail.

Thus to allow passenger train services to run from Toowoomba to Brisbane via the Inland Rail Corridor, or the existing corridor between Kagaru and Salisbury requires the construction of Cross River Rail. With the (allegedly incomplete) Palaszczuk Government's Cross River Rail business case not being made publicly available, is is unknown as to whether running train services from Toowoomba via the Inland Rail line has been included in the business case. The requirement of running trains from Beaudesert / Flagstone should be included, but costs would additional to the $5.4b for Cross River Rail which only covers Dutton Park to Albion section.

The Palaszczuk Government needs to both complete, and come clean on the business case for Cross River Rail, making it publicly available. As previously discussed, to take full advantage of Cross River Rail, considerably more than the quoted $5.4b will need to spent on other rail infrastructure around SE Queensland. Realistically, the cost may be around $8b. Is this extra cost a reason to not fund Cross River Rail? No.   Without Cross River Rail, Brisbane will have difficulty competing for business with other Oceana cities which are building new cross city rail tunnels, such as Sydney, Melbourne, and Auckland. Road and rail congestion will continue to get worse, making Brisbane fall even further down the liveability rankings. A SE Queensland Olympic Bid without Cross River Rail being open would be laughable. Even if the Federal Government fails to cough up the money, the state government needs to have the balls to go it alone on funding, at least for the first few years. There also needs to be bi-partisan support, and BrizCommuter is concerned that the LNP Queensland state opposition just don't understand the benefits of Cross River Rail.

Thanks to ongoing tit-for-tat politics, and political incompetence, BrizCommuter is very concerned for the future of Cross River Rail, and Brisbane as a competitive "world city".

8 comments:

  1. Nobody is surprised here. Bringing Cross River Rail to Brisbane is just another sad example of the total and utter failure of the three tier Australian political system. Bipartisan state level agreement that CRR in some form is needed, but bipartisan oposition at federal level. Perhaps federal government feels that state issues don't impact on federal votes, which underestimates the general public.

    Just one question though - during some disruptions (they are common on the Gold Coast/Airport Line), we have occasionally been routed WEST - bypassing South Brisbane and South Bank. I can clearly see this route on Google Maps. Is there an option to add a "Brisbane Express" that runs express NOT stopping at South Bank and South Brisbane stations and taking the western route?

    This isn't necessarily in my personal interest (I frequently stop at those two stations), but may be the only option for the commonwealth games with no CRR.

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  2. Any Darling Downs commuter trains would operate via the Ipswich line corridor, no CRR required.

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    1. Not necessarily. The alignment via Kagaru may be further, but could be faster. Trains from Darling Downs would have to run all stations behind the Ipswich/Rosewood services as there is no overtaking track between Ipswich and Darra. The Ipswich/Springfield Line is also near capacity in the am peak (train every 3 mins through CBD), and CRR won't increase capacity on this corridor.

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  3. So if you are so keen on Cross River Rail, would you be happy to pay around $12 - $15 per trip to use the tunnel? That is roughly the cost of Cross River Rail. And if you demand that the fares are cheaper than that, you are demanding that tax payers (most of whom do not use Cross River Rail) should pay to subsidise your ticket. Do you think this is fair? Someone has to pay for it. And that is either users or taxpayers. There is no one else.

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    1. Donald - you are obviously a car using purveyor of pollution, congestion, and road trauma. Do you pay a toll for every road upgrade? No, but public transport users pay for it in their taxed even if they don't use it.

      CRR has economic and social benefits - improved mobility to education and employment, less rail and ROAD congestion, makes Brisbane more attractive to businesses, allows for population growth and urban expansion. There is no need for train commuters to pay an extra fare to use CRR, as there are clear benefits.

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    2. Donald, would you be prepared to pay for an equivalent congestion toll for driving in? If so then fair is fair. I don't see why I need to pay more to make our city more efficient if you aren't.

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  4. Also, as can be evidenced by the massive reduction in peak hour speeds on our major roads since rail fail, it is easy to see for all how even car users gain by having a well run train network.

    CRR adds to this by allowing more capacity and more options for the network, which encourages more ppl onto public transport and hence assists road users.

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