Monday, April 23, 2018

North West Transport Corridor - The Missing Link

Source: DoTMR
This isn't the first time that BrizCommuter has written about the need for the Trouts Road / North West Transport(ation) Corridor for rail, but this blog post goes into more detail. This reserved corridor stretches through Brisbane's Northern suburbs between Everton Park and Carseldine. Apart from a mention in Connecting SEQ 2031 under the state ALP Bligh government, there has been very little mention of this transport corridor in politics until recently. Recent mention has been related to the federal LPN Turnbull government's suggestion of a fast rail link between Brisbane and the Sunshine Coast called "North Coast Connect". So what are the advantages of building a rail line along Trouts Road / North West Transport Corridor?
  • 100% increases in rail capacity from Caboolture and the Sunshine Coast into Brisbane (up to 24tph). This would also allow a 100% increase in rail capacity from the Redcliffe Peninsula Line and/or the Shorncliffe Line (up to 24tph). This cannot be realised by Cross Rail Rail alone due to the 4 track bottleneck on the existing North Coast Line between Albion and Northgate (which only allows for an additional 3tph to Caboolture and the Sunshine Coast). 
  • Faster journey times between Caboolture and the Sunshine Coast to Roma Street due to an approx. 5km shorter, straighter, and faster alignment.
  • High frequency public transport to many Brisbane Northern suburbs (Everton Park, Stafford Heights, McDowell, Chermside West) currently devoid of high frequency public transport. 
  • Allows for direct rail services between the Gold Coast and Sunshine Coast. 
  • Would improve the business cases for Sunshine Coast Line duplication and rail to Caloundra and Maroochydore (CAMCOS). 
  • All of the above would reduce pressure on roads across Brisbane's Northside and the Bruce Highway. 24tph with 50% full trains = 10,000 cars off the road = 5 car lanes/hour/direction. 
There have been some suggestions of building a freeway along this corridor. This is poor value for money concept as there would nowhere for the cars to go once they get the Samford Road or Wardell Street, over than already congested roads that would be difficult to upgrade. BrizCommuter would also debate if there is enough room for both a train line and freeway along the corridor (especially if more than 2 tracks are required) without requiring further property resumptions or building a double deck rail/road structure. There would however be space for local access roads, in particular to station car parks and drop off zones. An adjacent cycleway could also be easily provisioned. 

Suggested track map for the Trouts Rd Line
So where would the line go (heading South to North)?
  • Ideally, the line would break off from the Cross River Rail (CRR) tunnel just North of Roma Street, in the vicinity of Countess Street. It is vital that tunnel connections are created during the construction of CRR, as adding them later would force the temporary closure of CRR for months (as there are no track crossovers to allow CRR services to turnback at Roma Street). Frequency of CRR and Trouts Road services would be well matched, allowing for all or most services to through run, though this would make the rebuilt Exhibition station a bit of a white elephant. 
  • The first station heading North would be at QUT Kelvin Grove, adjacent to Kelvin Grove Road. This serves a large trip generator. 
  • The next station would be at Alderley, allowing for interchange with the Ferny Grove Line. The most ideal location would be just North north of Alderley station which would require some industrial and residential resumption. 
  • The line would then climb out of the tunnel, with a station at Stafford Rd in Everton Park. Due to the line having to cross Kedron Brook, the exact alignment here would need some detailed analysis.  
  • The line would then climb up and continue along the Trouts Road corridor, with stations at Flockton Street, Hamilton Road, Albany Creek Road, and Beams Road. The alignment is fairly hilly, so a reasonable amount of earthworks would be required. 
  • North of Beams Road, the line would need to be routed to connect with the existing North Coast (Caboolture) Line. Increasing development makes things tricky here, but an elevated route over Gympie Road would probably most cost effective. 
  • The line would connect with the existing North Coast Line to the South East of Strathpine station via a grade separated junction, allowing for via Trouts Road services to run to/from Caboolture and Sunshine Coast, and Redcliffe Peninsula Line services to run via Northgate. A 4th track would need to be added between Strathpine and Lawnton. 
  • Preferably, the Trouts Road Line would have 4 tracks between the tunnel portal at Everton Park and Beams Road, allowing for express services to overtake all stations services in both directions. Ideally, Sunshine Coast services would run express, and Caboolture services would serve all stations. Alternatively Sunshine Coast and Caboolture services could run express, and local service starting at Strathpine would service all stations. However, this latter service pattern would require additional reversing facilities at Strathpine, which are complicated by the directional uses of each track. This would also reduce the maximum frequency of services that could serve Caboolture and Sunshine Coast (to approx. 16tph). 
  • Stations would have an optimal mix of car parking, local feeder buses, kiss'n'ride drop off, and active transport access (walking/bike). With a 4 track layout, a central island platform with inner local and lateral express tracks would be most preferable at stations between Everton Park and Beams Road (see suggested track map). Stations would be designed to allow for up to 9-car trains in the future. 
  • Alternative options that would need a cost/benefit analysis are for a tunnel routing via Ashgrove and Enoggera, or for 2 stations at Felstead Street and Rode Road instead of 3 at Stafford Road, Flockton Street, and Hamilton Road. 3 tracks may slightly lower costs, but would prevent express services from overtaking all stations services in the counter-peak direction. With 3 tracks, two side platforms would be required, with a centre express track. If not connected to CRR, a dedicated underground terminus could be built at Roma Street (or elsewhere in the CBD), but this would considerably add to the cost, and cause an inefficient North/South train service imbalance compared to through routing all CRR services. Using the existing Ferny Grove Line as an alternative to tunnelling between Roma Street and Alderley would have negative implications on capacity and journey time, and is thus a poor option. 
So what is required to make this happen?
  • Political competence, forward thinking, bi-partisan thinking, and funding. These are all currently sadly lacking in Queensland. 
  • Urgently change the design of CRR to allow for a junction near Countess Street (without having to temporarily close CRR for months). 
  • Further route safeguarding, especially in the Enoggera/Alderley area, and between Beams Road and the North Coast Line. 
Construction of the North West Transport Corridor / Trouts Road Line is critical for allowing "fast trains to the Sunshine Coast", significantly increasing capacity on the Sunshine Coast, Caboolture, and Redcliffe Peninsula Lines, and improving public transport to the Northern suburbs of Brisbane. It is also important that provision is made for this line to connect into the proposed CRR tunnels, otherwise CRR will need to be closed for months to allow for this work to occur. 

4 comments:

  1. I can't see it ever happening. People here don't seem to care.

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    1. Sadly many Brisbanites just won't get it until SEQ is even more of a congested mess. Sydney and Melbourne new metro tunnels may help kick start thinking in the Banana state, but by then it may be too late.

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  2. It is little wonder that the public of Seq has no faith or concern about the possible plans for public transport in SEQ. Why would anyone give a rats ass about what the government says about forward planning when they all their achievements are #fail this and #fail that?

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  3. The local residents do care what is happening in this area. They are simply not listened to by any of those wanting to push forward with a road. Just survey the true local residents & I can guarantee you will be amazed by the experiences they have personally witnessed at times daily to do with car drivers' lack of adherence to any rules.

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