Monday, December 2, 2013

Next Generation Rollingstock - Not enough doors?

Queensland Rail's Next Generation Rollingstock
The good news is that a preferred bidder (Bombardier NGR Consortium) has been announced for Queensland Rail's Next Generation Rollingstock (NGR). These trains will be tested from late 2015, and all 75 6-car units are planned to be in service by 2018. These trains will allow for more trains to be run on Queensland Rail's CityTrain network (required for Moreton Bay Rail Link, and increases in peak services on other lines), as well as replacing the ageing EMU fleet. The fleet will be based at Wulkaraka, near Ipswich.

The potential bad news, is that the trains will continue to have only 2 sets of doors per car side. This is disappointing given the trend on other suburban commuter rail systems (including Paris RER, San Francisco's BART, and in Melbourne) to increase the number of doors per car side. The more sets of doors per car side, allows for faster passenger flows getting on and off the train, and thus allows for shorter station dwell times. Shorter station dwell times results in being able to run trains more frequently and more reliably. Shorter station dwell times also result in faster journey times.

The reasons for not having 3 sets of doors per car side on the NGR is unknown. Platform edge doors on Cross River Rail/Brisbane Underground could have been a factor, but as long as the 1st and 3rd doors on the NGR trains matched the position of the 1st and 2nd doors on the current trains, this would have been a non-issue. Japan is even testing platform edge doors that can automatically adjust their position for different trains!

Another reason may have been to simply decrease (or not increase) maintenance costs. 3 sets of doors per car side require a 50% increase in maintenance than 2 sets of door per car side. This may increase recurring costs. However, these decreased costs will leave a legacy of longer station dwell times for the next 40 years. Good or bad decision?


  1. An extra door per carriage would also reduce the number of seats that can be put in. I realise that more seats actually reduces the overall capacity of a carriage, because a seated passenger takes up more surface area than a standing passenger, but considering some of the distances some of the lines have to travel, this may be a compromise for passenger comfort.

  2. The curvature on our platforms could be a problem. I dont know about how straight platforms in other cities are, but some of ours have sharp curves. Just from looking at trains at Indooroopilly, if you had the doors anywhere in the middle of the car people would never be able to cross the gap between the door and the platform. I am not entirely sure, but its something to consider.

  3. Yes I do not think adding doors is a good idea. Look at gold coast light rail, so many doors, hardly any seats. Implementing doors reduces seats because there must be a large passage to accommodate people entering and exiting the train. i'd much prefer a seat on the train than stand in line to get onto the train. I know this is months too late! Im a new one going through your blog. Its awesome btw.

  4. If Brisbane sees a population increase in coming years, having an extra set of doors is a no brainer. Additional doors could mean savings of 30 seconds or more at each train station (as people can enter/exit in more places). Add this up over a full direction of travel, and service could be greatly improved. Europe and Asia have had this design now for many years. Now North America has joined in. It's ludicrous not to look at the reasonings behind why it has been done. You only need to look at Sydney's double deck trains and the people movement during peak periods. It's pure chaos. Because of this they are also limited to what they can do with their time table. It's about time we started looking at moving people more efficiently rather than worrying about seats. Yes more people will need to stand, but most of us should be able stand in a train without issues. There will still be enough seats for people with mobility impairments. If trains are moving through stations quicker, more trains could be added to the time table as well as reduced journey times. So the issue of having to stand will unlikely be that great.

  5. I think your right about the doors situation but the seats are also a fact. If there arent any seats left on a commuters work run then they will eventually get sick of it and stop using public transport.


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