TransLink have just published the long awaited 2011 train timetables for the Ipswich, Rosewood, Richlands, Caboolture, and Sunshine Coast Lines. This is after the review process of the draft timetables, which were released in late 2010 for consultation. These timetables will be introduced on Monday 6th June. This blog post will look at the changes to the Caboolture and Sunshine Coast Lines, with a blog post about the Ipswich, Richlands, and Rosewood Lines in the next few days. The new timetables are available on TransLink's website.
Reviews of the draft Caboolture and Sunshine Coast timetable, and commuter reaction:
The Sunshine Coast Line's draft timetable drew the most criticism. It seems that the further commuters wish to live from their workplace, the louder they scream! This criticism was mainly due to the draft timetable making some services less express, increasing journey times (but improving the service between Northgate and Bowen Hills), as well as inconvenient CBD arrival and departure times. The draft Caboolture Line timetable was quite good, with trains at least every 12 minutes to all stations during the peaks. Could TransLink improve the Sunshine Coast Line timings, without upsetting the improvements to the Caboolture Line?
The Sunshine Coast Line am arrivals at Central are certainly improved compared to the draft timetable. The 6:54, 7:32, and 8:02am arrivals have been moved to 7:11, 7:44, and 8:08am respectively. This should be more convenient for the rather vocal CBD workers, but not necessarily more convenient for those who work beyond the CBD. The pm departures from Central have also been changed - between the 4:34 and 5:49pm departures, the draft 5:04pm departure has been changed to a more convenient (for 9 to 5 workers) 5:22pm. The increased gap prior to this service has been filled with a 4:54pm departure to Caboolture with a Railbus connection to many Sunshine Coast Line stations. Whilst a train all the way would be better, it is likely that the current poor track infrastructure North of Caboolture may not allow this. A bus is better than nothing! There have also been some improvements to the evening services after 06:04pm to the Sunshine Coast, with the 1.5 hour, then 2 hour gap being replaced by a 1 hour, 1.5 hour, then 1 hour service gap pattern. There has been little improvement to the journey time situation, but this was expected by BrizCommuter, as more expresses equals less overall line capacity.
So have the improved Sunshine Coast Line CBD arrival and departure times affected the half-decent draft Caboolture Line timetable? The only negative BrizCommuter can see is the creation of an approx. 17 minute gap in the early am peak for stations between Morayfield and Dakabin. This was previously an 11 then 12 minute service gap. If commuters are to be encouraged to travel earlier, then this may be a very bad move. Aside from this, there has been a little juggling of am peak services, but all with no gaps larger than 12 minutes. There is even an extra late am peak service from Petrie into the CBD. The unacceptable 18 minute pm peak gap to stations between Virginia and Lawnton still exists thanks to a plethora of express services bypassing these stations. A few additional Caboolture Line services have also been added for early morning workers, and school children.
Ferny Grove Line commuters will be happy about the removal of the pesky 06:32am from Caboolture from the suburban tracks. This service added in October 2010 usually runs late, delaying the overcrowded 07:06am from Ferny Grove by anything up to 7 minutes!
BrizCommuter is happy to see that both Sunshine Coast and Caboolture Line services are shown on the Caboolture Line timetable. This solves the anomaly in the draft timetable, where some Sunshine Coast services that served Caboolture Line stations between Morayfield and Dakabin were not shown on the Caboolture Line timetable. The Sunshine Coast Line still has a separate timetable as well.
Thanks to the limited track infrastructure on the Caboolture and Sunshine Coast Lines, the timetables are still far from perfect. However in general, TransLink and QR have managed to make reasonable improvements to Sunshine Coast Line CBD arrival and departure times, without significantly upsetting Caboolture Line passengers. Aside from a couple of unacceptable (i.e. more than 15 minutes) peak service gaps on the Caboolture Line, TransLink and QR have made a good job of providing a frequent timetable that makes effective use of track capacity. There is little question that infrastructure improvements are required on the Caboolture & Sunshine Coast Line corridor, but the same goes for much of the rest of SE Queensland's rail network as well.