Saturday, March 10, 2018

Will QR's Rail Fail impact Cross River Rail's opening?

Cross River Rail's proposed
am peak service pattern (2026)
Cross River Rail (CRR) is currently expected to open in 2024. Queensland Rail have been quoted as saying that the current #RailFail due to lack of drivers will not be resolved (i.e. restoration of the full Oct 2016 timetable) until 2020. BrizCommuter correctly predicted the Commonwealth Games Rail Fail back in November 2016. This may be a long shot, but BrizCommuter is predicting that the knock on effects of Rail Fail and New Generation Rollingstock (NGR) Fail will also affect the opening of Cross River Rail in the mid-2020s. What is BrizCommuter's reasoning behind this soothsaying?
  • The October 2016 timetable will not be restored until 2019 or even 2020. Considerably more rail services, and thus more drivers need to be added to optimise the existing (pre-CRR network) - examples being 15 minute off-peak service on Springfield, Ipswich, Caboolture, and Redcliffe Lines, and improvements to pm peak services on almost all train lines (Cleveland Line being the most critical). 
  • The proposed (2026) service pattern for Cross River Rail will require a considerable increase in peak (26 more tph in the am peak) services, as well as additonal off-peak services. This will also require a further considerable increase in train drivers. 
  • Not enough NGR trains have been ordered to optimise the train services on the existing (pre-CRR network). In fact approximately 13 additional 6-car trains are required to provide adequate extra services on the existing rail network as well as replace all EMU, ICE, and unreliable SMU200 trains. 
  • Approximately 29 additional 6-car trains (thus 42 in total) will be required to provide the extra train services proposed for CRR.
  • Given the severe issues with the design of the NGR trains, and the Palaszczuk government's "Buy Queensland" policy, an add on order for extra NGR trains is looking increasingly unlikely. Thus a whole new procurement and construction process will be required, delaying the addition of additional trains onto QR's network. This design and procurement process would realistically need to start before the end of 2019 if the additional trains are to be in service in time for CRR's opening.  
  • The risk of a future LNP government repeating destructive policies, such as driver recruitment freezes, or attempting to privatise QR by stealth before the opening of CRR. 
  • Multiple additional infrastructure projects are required to meet CRR's proposed service pattern - including additional tracks along parts of the Gold Coast/Beenleigh Line corridor, duplication of the Cleveland Line's single track sections, additional train stabling, turnback facility at Salisbury or Acacia Ridge, and optimised track layout at Kippa-Ring. None of these projects have been started or funding sourced. 
  • Poor public transport governance under Department of Transport and Main Roads. 
Without sustained driver (and train crew) recruitment throughout the next 6 to 8 years, timely orders for approximately 42 additional 6-car trains, and multiple infrastructure projects, it will be difficult to achieve to proposed service patterns for Cross River Rail when it opens in the mid-2020s. Failures in any of these areas will result in a repeat of Rail Fail where there were insufficient drivers and trains to operate the October 2016 timetable after the opening of the Redcliffe Peninsula Line. This would result in sub-optimal train services on both the existing train network and on train lines that that will run through CRR. Given Queensland's track record of blundering transport planning, BrizCommuter is feeling rather pessimistic. You heard it here first - #CRRrailfail. 


  1. Considering the advances in driverless technology, we may not have to worry because I think that within a decade, most public transport operators - especially rail - will opt for driverless rolling stock. Less time to program an AI than to train a driver (I mean seriously 18 months to train a driver?).

    1. To run driverless trains, you need a:
      - Fully grade-separated right-of-way - no level crossings and so forth
      - Fully separated from other rail traffic, including freight and driver-operated rolling stock
      - Level platforms and so forth, to provide assistance - AI can only look where it is told to look
      - To overcome the 'Queensland Effect' - union resistance, general public resistance, stuff-ups by the government etc.
      I can't see any of these forthcoming on QR's network, so I think we're stuck with drivers for the forseeable future.


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