|Next Generation Rollingstock - urgently required!|
Increased rolling stock utilisation
It is not possible to run 100% of trains in service. Trains require maintenance at set periods, and also on an ad-hoc basis as components fail. Approximately 93% of trains are in use by Queensland Rail (QR) in the am peak, which is relatively high figure considering many of QR's trains (EMUs) are over 30 years old. The pm peak utilisation figure is unknown.
BrizCommuter is however concerned about the number of Inter City Express (ICE) units sitting at Mayne Depot, and wonders if increased utilisation of these units, could allow cascading of IMU trains to other services. Would re-fitting these trains with higher capacity seating be an effective use of money given that they are ageing? Given the poor reliability of the ICE units (most likely the reason why there are so many at Mayne) this is unlikely.
Realistically, increasing rolling stock utilisation is an unlikely solution to solving the lack of trains problem.
Moving units from other services
With rolling stock utilisation being at it's maximum, then if you convert an overcrowded 3-car service to a 6-car service, then you will have to reduce another service from 6-cars to 3-cars. There may be limited other services that could handle a halving in capacity. The other problem, is that the other train may make trips earlier or later in the day which do require 6-cars.
A good example of the above is the many Airport services that have been observed with around 20% loading in the pm peak, and thus are good candidates for being reduced from 6-cars to 3-cars. The problem is that the Airport train then becomes a Gold Coast train when it runs it's next trip. If this 6-car train has a loading of 45% (a few spare seats), then it would be severely overcrowded (political nightmare) if it was converted from 6-cars to 3-cars on a Gold Coast service. BrizCommuter has however received reports of some Gold Coast Line peak services mainly carrying air since the timetable changes.
This option may help solve the lack of trains problem, but only if it does not resolve overcrowding on one service by causing overcrowding on another. There may be limited scope here.
Remove other services
Another option may be to remove services that have low loadings, are additional to the 15/30 minute timetable cycles, and do not form other services. These 3-car units can then be used to boost other services.
One debatably required service is the 06:40am from Ferny Grove. Removal of this service would result in a 15 minute gap in service between two 6-car units at a reasonably quiet time, which is no worse than the previous timetable. Unfortunately, given that this train runs to Park Road, it can only be assumed that it runs empty along either the Beenleigh or Cleveland Line to form another peak service. Thus means that removing this service and re-utilising it's 3-cars is not an option. Also removing services after a timetable change would annoy commuters who have just started using this service.
The Sunshine Coast Line received a few extra services on January 20th 2014 despite not being part of the sector 2 timetable review. Maybe QR should have held off on adding these services until after seeing whether sector 2 services required more 3-car units? Now is too late to remove these services, as it would cause a political outcry (although saying that, adding an extra service has also caused a political outcry from some Sunshine Coast commuters)! Maybe, the sector 1 timetables can be re-reviewed for more efficient use of rolling stock?
There may be very limited or no options in removing services to boost others.
Unfortunately, new trains cannot be built overnight. Despite claims on QR's Facebook page in recent days of new trains in 2015, we are unlikely to see these in passenger service until early to mid 2016. Depending on delivery schedules and opening of the Moreton Bay Rail Link, these trains may not even be available for use on overcrowded services until much later than this date. Thankfully these new Next Generation Rollingstock (NGR) trains will all be 6-car units.
BrizCommuter is sounding pessimistic, but based on comments in social media by QR in the last few days it seems that there will chronic overcrowding on some services (mainly on the Ferny Grove Line) for the next few years. This is a sad state of affairs on a line that was duplicated to reduce overcrowding, and parallels a congested road. It's a return to bad old overcrowded days of 2007, when commuters were expecting better.
First day of the new sector 2 train timetables:
Rest of the first week of the new sector 2 train timetables: