Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Election is over. Now where are the new timetables?

It was quite obvious that the release of the stage 2 timetables were being held until after the Queensland state election. With capacity across the Merivale Bridge limited to approximately 20 trains per hour in the am peak, there is only room for 1 extra train service per hour for the Gold Coast, Beenleigh, and Cleveland Lines. That's not 1 extra train each, 1 extra train between all three lines! Releasing the timetable before the election would have upset some voters even more. Now that the election is over, BrizCommuter would like to know when will we see the draft timetables?

There are two infrastructure projects that affect the stage 2 timetables for the Ferny Grove, Shorncliffe, Airport, Doomben, Beenleigh, Cleveland, and Gold Coast Lines. The first is the belated Keperra to Ferny Grove line duplication. It is strongly rumoured that the track work will be complete after the Easter shutdown. Will the signalling also be in place to allow for the duplication to be fully operational after Easter? With no sign of the phase 2 timetables, will Queensland be in the embarrassing situation of having newly opened rail infrastructure with no service improvements for months, or will be see a work go slow until we get a new timetable?

Sandgate -2 tracks, 1 is a bit rusty!  Image: Google Maps
The second infrastructure project is the Sandgate station upgrade. Only one of the two platforms is fully accessible. This means that trains usually serve only one platform, effectively extending the single track section that limits the line's capacity. With BrizCommuter expecting the new peak timetable to based around a 15 minute cycle, then the Shorncliffe Line's peak timetable would be considerably more reliable if Sandgate's second platform and track could be used in the peak period. Unfortunately Queensland Rail's website has no mention of timeframe for the Sandgate station upgrade.

It should be noted that TransLink were once quoted as saying that the new timetables would be introduced in late 2011. It is now approaching mid 2012! In this now apparently "Can Do" state, when will TransLink and QR finally introduce the stage 2 train timetables?

Update 28/02/2012

There is mention on TransLink's website of minor changes to the Ferny Grove Line timetable (and connecting bus services) from the 10th April, after the duplication has opened. Unfortunately, with less than 2 weeks to go, TransLink have failed to actually publish the timetable. With track slot limitations through the CBD until the stage 2 changes, BrizCommuter is not expecting any significant improvements to the Ferny Grove Line's mediocre timetable on the 10th April. The most likely change will be some services arriving at Ferny Grove a few minutes earlier than currently.

Monday, March 19, 2012

QR - off the rails!

It's not  good week for public transport users. With only few days until the state election, commuters have the choice of either voting for a party who want to increase fares x4 the CPI and proceed with Cross River Rail, or a party who want to increase fares x2 the CPI and possibly scrap Cross River Rail. Then we have had the mother of weekend rail line closures, a threat of strike action, and mass train system breakdowns. You would have thought that the least Queensland Rail (QR) could do is continue to inform commuters of their reliability figures? Of course not! The Courier Mail in this article picked up that QR had not updated their peak period on-time running statistics since the 8th March. Trying to keep something a secret QR?

After the article was published, QR did update their website. The results shown in the screen shot are not good news. On only one of the last six working days shown (09/03/12-16/03/12) did QR exceed their reliability target of 93.77%, and even that figure was a rather unimpressive 94.4%. The 14/03/2012 was a dreadful 57.6%. It should be noted that Hong Kong MTR regularly manages reliability figures of 99.9%, even when running trains just 120 seconds apart.

The reliability figures are not the only secret QR are keeping. The draft phase 2 timetables have also not appeared this side of the election, as predicted by BrizCommuter. As the timetable is not likely to be good news to commuters on the Gold Coast, Beenleigh, and Cleveland Lines, the publication of the draft has been delayed until sometime after the election. Building Cross River Rail would solve the overcrowding on the above mentioned lines, but the likely winners of the election, the LNP, still haven't officially announced if they will scrap the idea and what alternatives they have.

Update 20/03/2012

Yet another train system meltdown occurred last night (19/03/12) after a signal failure at Eagle Junction. One of BrizCommuter's work colleagues was caught up in the mess. BrizCommuter has received reports of poor communication from QR, no buses provided so passengers has to use taxis, then not enough taxis turned up, taxis only took Shorncliffe Line passengers to Northgate, and taxis refused to take aboriginals. Disgraceful QR!

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Car rego frozen, public transport fares up 15%

The ALP have now joined the LNP in promising to freeze car registration (or rego for Aussie's incapable of using more than 2 syllable words) for the next 3 years. Great for car drivers. But what about public transport users? The ALP's disgraceful 15% fare policy has deterred public transport use, and has thus failed to reduce the tax payer subsidy percentage. Despite the fare policy being a failure, the ALP still plan on increasing public transport fares by 15% for the next two years. If this policy continues, is likely that by January 2013, Brisbane will have the world's most expensive bus system, and by January 2014 will have the world's most expensive train system! The LNP have pledged to continue the fare increases until the states economy is back on track, which does not bode too well. Despite offering free journeys after 9 per week instead of the ALP's 10 per week, Brisbane will continue to be one of the world's 3 most expensive public transport systems.

It is quite clear that based on cost of public transport vs cars, that both the ALP and LNP do not take public transport seriously. Brisbane is heading further towards a car obsessed unsustainable future. This situation is made worse by lack of future planning, with the ALP having announced no plans to improve Brisbane's appalling train frequency, and the LNP looking like they will dump the essential Cross River Rail. Sadly, it really is a case of voting for either Stupid or Stupid in the 2012 Queensland state election.