Wednesday, December 23, 2015

QR's Christmas Unpleasant

18 minutes is longer than 15 minutes TransLink!
For some, Christmas Eve, and the working days between Christmas and New Year (in this case Tue 29th, Wed 30th, Thu 31st) are normal working days. Unfortunately, Queensland Rail don't seem to agree, severely reducing the peak service by 50 to 66% on some lines, and making some express trains all stations. Now, this is understandable given that the number of commuters have probably reduced by more than this figure. However BrizCommuter has observed that QR have failed to properly inform commuters of these changes, with the likely effect that there will be quite a few unsuspecting commuters late for work on these days. BrizCommuter has heard no on train announcements, nor any at station announcements. Only the poster at the station that alluded to a "special timetable" and on TransLink's website which most of the affected commuters have probably not seen. BrizCommuter recommends that if QR try this timetable chopping next year, they need to:

  • Announce on every peak service, that the peak service will be reduced (e.g. on xx days, the Springfield Line will run an am peak service every 12-18 minutes instead of every 6 minutes)
  • Announce at stations the service changes that will be made before each train arrives (e.g. on xx days, the next service will not run, please catch the xx train or xx train instead). 
BrizCommuter will be turning up for his usual train service (removed from the timetable) tomorrow just to observe how many people were unaware of this service removal.

Sunshine Coast commuters are particularly annoyed with the Caboolture to Petrie closure starting at 2am on Christmas Eve, which as previously mentioned is a working day for many (including healthcare and some government sectors). This appears to be times so that trains are running for New Years Eve, which appears to have been deemed more important! The essential engineering work is related to the Moreton Bay Rail Link and North Pine River crossing replacement. Amusingly, a Sunshine Coast commuter was observed telling other commuters this morning that "if you all complain, QR will cancel the engineering works". Ha, ha, ha. QR are not going cancel long planned engineering works costing tens of millions due to a few last minute complaints!

Update 24/12/15
BrizCommuter actually heard an announcement this morning about the service changes, and saw a big advert on one of the newfangled LED displays at Fortitude Valley. A bit late QR, as BrizCommuter was on a train after a service that was removed from the timetable! Also, TransLink are still charging peak fares, even though the peak train service is rather similar to an off-peak service. Fraud?

Merry Christmas to all commuters.  

Monday, December 14, 2015

BrizCommuter Park

Congratulations to Rail Back on Track founder Robert Dow who has had a park named after him in Goodna. If it wasn't for the effort put in by Mr Dow, then SE Queensland's public transport system would be even more of a basket case, and the Springfield Line probably be single track. 

Now, as Brisbane's second (maybe third) biggest whinger, BrizCommuter is going to campaign to have a park named after him as well. The park will of course be themed after Brisbane's public transport system. Here a list of attractions in the proposed BrizCommuter Park:
  • Spiral slide of transport failure - in this fun attraction, kids can slide down in a giant spiral of doom, a bit like SE Queensland's transport policy. 
  • Never ending roundabout - just like Cross River Rail's planning process, this ride just keeps going around in circles. Sick bags available upon exit. 
  • Newman's BaT Tunnel - part of the fairytale fantasy forest section of the park, which is full of fairies, intelligent politicians, and other imaginary creatures.
  • Cycleway of disconnectivity - here kids can ride around on their bikes and scooters along a cycleway. However, there are extra hazards along the way, such as the cycleway being interrupted by 10 lane highways, stormwater drains, and rubble. 
  • Quirky bus jam ride - ride around a track in one the 10 Brisbane City Council buses. (Note: you'll wait for ages and then all 10 buses will arrive at the same time). 
  • Train ride of patience - only runs every 30 minutes, and hourly on Sunday mornings. 
Newman's BaT Tunnel attraction
Just to make sure no one uses BrizCommuter Park, an exorbitant entrance fee will be charged. Sounds familiar?

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

The Drive to Transport Failure

Just when you didn't think that transport policy in Brisbane could be any worse, it gets worse. The LNP Brisbane City Council have just announced that a contract has been signed on the rather unnecessary $650m upgrade of Kingsford Smith Drive. With the ALP threatening to scrap the project if they won the 2016 council elections, it had been thought that this project would have been delayed until after the election. However, Quirk and Co have decided to thrown away up to $650m anyway.

So why is this project a waste of $650m? Well, for starters the recently built Airport Link toll tunnel has taken quite a bit of airport to CBD (and beyond) traffic off Kingsford Smith Drive. Airport Link is now a considerably faster way of getting to the Airport.

Secondly, there has been no consideration for half-decent public transport to the Northshore Hamilton development which due to typical Brisbane transport failure will end up being heavily car reliant. For the same cost as widening Kingsford Smith drive, the existing and currently under-used Doomben Line could have been extended via a viaduct along an existing rail corridor (shown above) into the heart of the huge Northshore Hamilton development. A partial duplication of the Doomben Line, for which provision was carried out in the 1950s, would allow a 15 minute train service. Sadly, this transport corridor between Doomben and Northshore Hamilton has just been decommissioned and is expected to have to rails ripped up very soon. The passing loop at Ascot on the Doomben Line is also expected to be ripped up soon.

So instead of a "no brainer" one stop extension of rail into Northshore Hamilton, we will be seeing a  continuation towards car centric transport failure in Brisbane.

News source:

Saturday, December 5, 2015

Pity Glider

It appears that Brisbane's flagship politically motivated bus route, the City Glider (AKA route 60), has gone downhill recently since a timetable change. Not that customers would know there has been a timetable change, as a timetable with actual times is not printed. A Rail Back on Track member has produced a collage of some of the social media posts from disgruntled City Glider commuters. 

Source: Rail Back on Track member "Gazza"
These speak for themselves, so there isn't much need for BrizCommuter commentary. By the way, the City Glider wears a crash helmet in its logo, to stop it from banging its head against a wall over Brisbane City Council's diabolical bus network. Sort it out please Mr Quirk!

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

QR Christmas Party Poopers (Again)

Christmas has many traditions - Santa, Carol Singers, Tacky Lights, Nativity Scenes, oh, and QR stuffing up Brisbanites transport home from Christmas parties yet again.

At the time of year when lots of pissed office workers want to get home from Christmas parties, QR have spoilt the fun with the following track closures:

  • 2nd Dec - Roma Street to Bowen Hills and Albion
  • 6th Dec - Corinda to Redbank and Springfield
  • 7th and 8th Dec - Kingston to Varsity Lakes
  • 9th Dec - Roma Street to Northgate and Ferny Grove
  • 11th, 12th, and 13th Dec - Park Road to Varsity Lakes
  • 14th and 15th Dec - Northgate to Caboolture
  • 19th and 20th Dec - Bowen Hills to Northgate
It should be noted that most other first world cities either have very limited or no track closures in December. No wonder there are so many drink drive incidents in SE Queensland around this time of year! 

WTF ??

Monday, November 16, 2015

Design a CityCat

Brisbane City Council are running a "design a CityCat" competition. The link is below:
Before you get excited about designing a double deck CityCat with spa bath, it's not quite design a CityCat, more design the annoying wrap on the exterior that stops people than getting a good view out of the windows. With Brisbane's sporting teams now being plastered all over the CityCats, it is time for a "Team Brisbane" themed CityCat wrap that shows off aspects of Brisbane.

Here are a few of BrizCommuter's ideas for the CityCat design:

  • An image of half-empty buses queuing across the Victoria Bridge.
  • An image of passengers on a train platform, with a "next train in 29" minutes indicator.  
  • An image of toll road tunnel shareholders in despair. 
  • An image of  ex-public transport users driving to work for lower cost. 
Do you think these will win? If you have any better ideas, add a comment, or better still enter the competition. 

Monday, November 9, 2015

Kippa-Ring Crossover Crazyness

From the state that gave a temporary terminus design at Richlands that was better designed for reversing steam trains than high frequency electrical multiple units (EMU), comes another bizarre terminus design at Kippa-Ring on the Moreton Bay Rail Link (MBRL).
Source: somewhere on QR's website

So what is wrong with the terminus design at Kippa-Ring (above)? Two track termini generally alternate trains between platforms. Whilst a train in platform 1 waits, a train departs and another arrives in platform 2. Then whilst a train waits in platform 2, a train departs and another arrives in platform 1. There are two critical parts of this operation. First is the time it takes crew to change ends of the waiting/dwelling train, and the other is the platform re-occupation time. The platform re-occupation time is the time taken for a train to depart a platform and for another train to arrive in the platform. This is usually most efficient when the crossovers are as close as possible to the platform. Unfortunately, in this design one of the two crossovers is 430m away from the other crossover, and around 600m away from the platform.  This could add an extra minute to the platform re-occupation time. In the peak period, with a train travelling through the crossover junction every 3 minutes, this poor design significantly decreases the operating margin which is critical for on-time running.

BrizCommuter is unsure of why such an odd design is in place. Could it have something to do with broken down trains pushing other trains? Could it to be allow locomotives to run around freight/maintenance trains? Is it due to a curve in the track? Or did the track planners just have a bad day? Certainly it is not designed for high capacity running of EMUs!

So how should this terminus have been designed? As previously mentioned, for maximum capacity the crossovers should be placed as close as possible to the platforms. Scissors crossovers (such as on the approach to Ferny Grove) allow for the highest throughput as they are located in the same space as just one crossover. On the downside, the diamond crossing can suffer from track wear and tear, and also adds wear and tear to train wheels (unless switch diamonds are installed, but these can be unreliable). The next best design is a double crossover where a trailing and facing crossover are located as close as possible. Due to the location of the entrance to the sidings, and a curve in the track beyond the sidings points, a scissors crossover would be best suited for this location. The diagram below shows how Kippa-Ring should have had its track layout designed in BrizCommuter's opinion - red shows a removed crossover, and the light green shows where a scissors crossover should be located.
Oh well, this is Queensland. Beautiful one day, poor terminus track layouts the next.

Note: Varsity Lakes also has a bizarre terminus crossover layout, with the trailing crossover closer to Robina. Though at least it seems that trains can turnback in a siding to the South of Varsity Lakes as well. 

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

New Sector 1 Draft Timetables - the verdict

TransLink and Queensland Rail (QR) have just released draft timetables due to changes required for the opening of the Moreton Bay Rail Link (MBRL) to Kippa-Ring (Redcliffe) in mid-2016.

This is BrizCommuter's review of the good and bad of these new timetables:

Sunshine Coast Line
Good: 5 minutes faster peak journey times.
Bad: Off-peak weekday services only every 90 minutes. Bus connections displayed poorly in the draft timetable.

Caboolture Line 
Good: 5 minutes faster peak journey times, and 13 minutes faster off-peak journey times for stations beyond Petrie. All Caboolture Line trains runs express between Bowen Hills and Petrie, calling only at Eagle Junction.
Bad: 30 minute frequency off-peak service.

MBRL / Kippa-Ring Line
Good: All services that previously started or terminated at Petrie appear to now start or terminate at Kippa-Ring. These trains run express between Bowen Hills and Northgate, calling only at Eagle Junction,
Bad: 30 minute frequency off-peak service for MBRL stations and stations between Petrie and Northgate (exclusive). Worse late/shoulder am peak timetable for stations between Petrie and Northgate compared to the current timetable.

Shorncliffe Line
Good: Additional peak services will run from Northgate to the CBD (mainly Roma Street). This 8tph peak service (every 7.5 minutes) will resolve BrizCommuter's previous concerns that Albion, Wooloowin, Toombul, and Nundah would have up to a 82% reduction in peak service. Also, additional weekend services will run from Northgate maintaining a 4tph off-peak service.
Bad: Why can't the additional off-peak services run to/from Shorncliffe? Also, see the conclusion.

The new timetables are a mixed bag. For longer distance commuters on the Sunshine Coast, Caboolture, and Kippa-Ring Lines, journey times have been reduced. However the 30 minute off-peak services at most stations beyond Northgate are disappointing. More than $1b has been spent on building the MBRL for only a train every half an hour in the off-peak - only in Queensland!

The previous fears that Albion, Wooloowin, Toombul, and Nundah would be left with an abysmal peak service has thankfully been alleviated by extra trains starting and finishing at Northgate. Credit needs to be given to QR for achieving this. However, given that there are currently not enough trains to run a peak timetable (resulting on overcrowded peak services on the Ferny Grove and Cleveland Lines) then where are these extra trains coming from? So far not a single Next Generation Rolling (NGR) stock train has arrived in Australia. BrizCommuter thus continues to assume that this new timetable and the opening of MBRL is dependant on the delivery of the NGRs. The peak services on the suburban tracks which the Shorncliffe/Northgate services share with Ferny Grove, Airport, and Doomben Lines will now be running 22tph in the am peak. This is 2tph short of the maximum track capacity, and possibly the highest frequency train service in Australia. Whilst impressive, QR may struggle to run a reliable service.

With the improvements to the Shorncliffe Line, commuters on other lines may also be expecting improvements. When will Ferny Grove and Cleveland Line commuters see the overcrowded 3-car services replaced by 6-car trains? When will the Ferny Grove Line's irregular 6tph evening peak service be turned into a regular/even 8tph peak service? When will the Cleveland Line see it's evening peak express service extended later? What has happened to the review of Ipswich and Springfield Line services (where there are still hourly services on Sunday mornings)?

Caboolture Line draft timetable:
Sunshine Coast draft timetable:
Inner City draft timetable (excludes Ferny Grove and Bowen Hills originating/finishing services):

Update 03/11/15
Kappa-Ring (MBRL) Line draft timetable:

Wednesday, October 14, 2015


Brisbane City Council always try and make their bus network compete with trains. Unfortunately in this case, they took it a bit too literary.

Here is the route 345 bus getting a bit too cosy with a boom gate at Alderley Level Crossing on South Pine Road. This incident caused disruption to the Ferny Grove Line and surrounding roads.

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Is Brisbane the village idiot of the western world?

42 reasons why Brisbane & SE Queensland is the village idiot of the western world (and these are just related to transport in the last 8 years).
  1. Building multiple new towns in the middle of nowhere (Flagstone, Yarrabilba, Ripley, Aura) with only imaginary "planned" high frequency public transport. 
  2. Not building a station box for Cross River Rail as part of the Queen's Wharf casino development. 
  3. Toll road tunnels that are so expensive that drivers avoid them, and thus the tunnel operators end up in debt. 
  4. Failure to build the connections between Legacy Way tunnel and the Inner Northern Busway.
  5. Extending the Inner Northern Busway to RBWH, but not extending the route 66 to RBWH for 7 months - resulting in up to 55 minute waits to board a bus that isn't already full. 
  6. Brisbane City Council running what is quite possibly the world's most inefficient, illogical, and confusing to use bus network. 
  7. Vast swathes of Brisbane with no high frequency public transport (e.g Centenary Suburbs, Old Northern Road corridor, Bulimba).
  8. Complete lack of half-decent rail feeder bus services. 
  9. Brisbane City Council being highly obstructive to TransLink's attempts to resolve 6, 7, and 8. 
  10. Brisbane City Council continuing to be in denial about the state of the bus network.
  11. Failing to construct Cross River Rail - now in the planning stage for the 3rd time (yawn)! 
  12. The ridiculous BaT tunnel design bypassing a key interchange at Park Road.
  13. Lord Mayor Graham Quirk trying to spruik the BaT tunnel to federal government - after it was axed by the state government. 
  14. The ridiculous Cleveland Solution suggested by Council of Mayors (SEQ).
  15. The completely unnecessary City2Suburbs tunnel suggested by Council of Mayors (SEQ). 
  16. Go card readers and fare gates that fail, a lot.
  17. Lack of daily fare options in Brisbane - resulting in annoyed tourists. 
  18. The rortable "9 then free" weekly go card cap, that completely ignores the zones used. 
  19. Fares so high that they discourage public transport use. 
  20. Fare structure that favour environmentally unsustainable long distance commuting over environmentally sustainable short distance commuting. 
  21. Not enough trains to run the peak timetable - resulting in Ferny Grove and Cleveland trains leaving behind passengers.
  22. Charging peak fares for off-peak services on Ekka (Wednesday) public holiday.
  23. Running no buses in routes Redlands on Ekka (Monday) public holiday despite it not being a public holiday in Brisbane where people would like to get to work and university. 
  24. Failure to Extremely last minute funding and construction the Gold Coast Light Rail (G:link) from Gold Coast University Hospital to Helensvale (to connect with the train line), and even then via a sub-optimal route. 
  25. Full buses, more full buses, and even more full buses. 
  26. Purchasing new trains (Next Generation Rollingstock) with insufficient doors for high frequency suburban use. 
  27. Designing trains with a lack of sensible advertising space inside. 
  28. The Northern Busway having so many traffic lights it slows down buses compared to when they used Lutwych Road. 
  29. Building "gold plated, over engineered" busways at similar costs to railway lines.  
  30. Duplicating the Ferny Grove Line, but not introducing timetable improvements for another 2 years.
  31. Failure to extend the Doomben Line to Northshore Hamilton development. 
  32. Frequent misleading use of the terms "World Class" and "New World City".
  33. Triplicating the Beenleigh Line between Salisbury and Kuraby instead of quadrupling it - thus preventing 15 minute counter-peak and off-peak services to Beenleigh and Gold Coast. 
  34. Not electrifying the 4th track between Corinda and Darra. 
  35. Not duplicating Coomera to Helensvale along with the rest of the Gold Coast Line duplication (which should have never have been built single track in the first place).
  36. Failure to extend the Gold Coast Line further or build CAMCOS to Sunshine Coast - despite the large population bases. 
  37. Brisbane City Council persisting on the pointless widening of Kingsford Smith Drive - wasn't an overpriced toll road tunnel just built to the airport Mr Quirk?
  38. Airtrain having an infrequent and overpriced monopoly to Brisbane Airport. 
  39. 30 minute frequency off-peak services on weekends - as opposed to 15 minutes in Perth and 10 minutes in Melbourne! 
  40. 30 minutes daytime off-peak service on new train lines to Springfield, and probably Kippa-Ring. 
  41. Lack of public consultation on trains services to Kippa-Ring (Moreton Bay Rail Link), and feeder bus services.
  42. Lack of transparency related to patronage figures - what happened to the QR Passenger Load Survey???
It seems that Queensland breeds incompetence of the highest order when it comes to transport planning, and sadly there are no signs of improvement. 

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Aura, or Black Hole?

More urban sprawl - going somewhere here
The huge Aura (previously known as Caloundra South) residential development on the Sunshine Coast has recently been announced. This new town will eventually house 50,000 people, a considerable portion of which will be commuting the long distance to Brisbane.

In the UK, when a large number of new towns were built, they were all built on train lines with at least a 30 minute frequency train service. Unfortunately in backwards SE Queensland, new towns and urban sprawl continues to be built with no train line. This forces residents to rely on cars, causing increasing road congestion as commuters travel to and from Brisbane. Springfield has only recently received its train line, and North Lakes will get a train line in 2016. Flagstone doesn't look like it will get a train line for decades, "in the middle of nowhere" Yarrabilba will never see decent public transport, and now Aura is looking like it will be train-less public transport black hole for a long time. High frequency bus services in these new towns also fail to materialise, just look at Springfield's poor bus services.

So what is the problem with Aura's public transport?

  • Sunshine Coast Line duplication - successive governments have failed to duplicate the Sunshine Coast Line beyond Beerburrum and Lanesborough. This limits both peak frequency and off-peak frequency (shared with freight trains) on the Sunshine Coast Line. Currently there is no date set for duplication, and no funding for this duplication. 
  • CAMCOS (Caloundra and Maroochydore Line) - again, successive governments have failed to build this line which would serve The Sunshine Coast in a much more useful manner than the current Sunshine Coast Line which mainly serves hinterland villages. CAMCOS would actually pass through the Aura development. CAMCOS currently has no date set for construction, and no funding. 
  • Caboolture Line capacity - this line currently runs 18tph, 2 kph short of it's maximum capacity. Adding Moreton Bay Rail Link (MBRL) to the mix in 2016 will result in more overcrowded trains. Improved signalling (ERTMS Level 2), more trains, and improved turn back/stabling facilities would allow for a 20% improvement. After that, the expensive Trout's Rd (Northwest Transportation Corridor) would be required to add more train capacity from Caboolture and the Sunshine Coast to Brisbane. 
  • It does not appear that the developer has been forced to pay for rail infrastructure to serve its development (unlike UK and European development policy). 
  • The lack of the above, will result in car reliance in Aura, and thus more congestion on the already congested Bruce Highway. 
What is the solution?
  • Developer funding - the developers of any new towns or urban sprawl need to be forced to pay a considerable amount towards rail infrastructure, as occurs in the UK and Europe. 
  • Government funding - both state and federal governments need to play catch up in public transport funding, to avoid the spiral of wasteful road funding. 
  • Urban planning - a bit late here for Aura, Yarrabilba, and Flagstone - but urban planning in SE Queensland needs to be based around sustainable short distance commutes, not unsustainable urban sprawl and long distance commutes. 
It is now down the Queensland state government, and federal government to decide whether Aura will either be a public transport black hole, or whether a great opportunity to invigorate the Sunshine Coast's public transport system will be realised.  

Sunday, September 27, 2015

Cross River Rail - the roundabout of fail

Cross River Rail - will it ever happen?
A brief history of Cross River Rail (CRR)

2008 - Under the Bligh ALP government, the Inner City Capacity Rail Study recommends that Brisbane requires two rail tunnels in 2016 and 2022, as well as loads of track amplifications (most of which haven't occurred by 2015). Multiple routes for the new tunnel are analysed.

2010 - After considerable route analysis, the CRR reference design is finalised, with public consultation and environmental assessment completed. CRR is planned to run in tunnel from Yeerongpilly to Victoria Park. The ALP government (apparently badly advised by Queensland treasury department) also started to massively hike public transport fares which reduced public transport patronage and overcrowding, lessening the need for CRR, but also increasing road congestion.

2011 - Brisbane floods, funding goes elsewhere, and CRR opening is delayed to 2020. Federal funding (from both parties) wasn't forthcoming either - repeat for every year after. Later in the year, the ALP government release the pie in the sky "Connecting SEQ2031" plan.

2012 - Council of Loonies Mayors (SEQ) suggested the silly elevated "Cleveland Solution" plan which proposed to run higher frequency light rail services between Cleveland and Ferny Grove, but failed to factor in the cost of duplicating the Cleveland Line or elimating tons of level crossings. Later the the year, the Newman LNP announce a "cut price" CRR, in other words building CRR but not the essential infrastructure at each end.

2013 - The Newman LNP government scrapped the "shovel ready" CRR, and replaced it with the ill thought out Bus and Train (BaT) tunnel. This combined bus and train tunnel, likely planned on the back of a napkin, forgot about the essential interchange at Park Rd, and surfaced at Dutton Park so as to reduce property resumptions around Yeerongpilly. The CRR Albert Street alignment was replaced by BaT's George Street alignment, with George Street and Roma Street station construction being part of property (re-) development. Later in the year Tony Abbott becomes prime minister and being stuck in the 1960s, refuses to fund public transport.

2015 - The Newman LNP government was booted out by the voters, and the new ALP government culled the BaT. It has also been claimed that BaT tunnel was "never going to be built anyway" by the LNP government if they had stayed in power. CRR is now being re-assessed and is back in the planning stages. Concerningly, the Queens Wharf casino plans seem to not involve a station box construction for CRR - a major opportunity missed. The Yeerongpilly property issue also means that the original CRR plans there would have to be changed.

So after these 7 years, CRR is in the "planning stage" for the third time - making SE Queensland look like the village idiot of the western world.

What's likely to happen in the future?

2018 - The minority ALP state government gets dumped by the voters. The "shovel ready" (again) CRR gets dumped, and replaced by another ludicrous LNP plan (we'll call it BaTty). Brisbane spends millions of $$$ on a failed Olympic bid due to rubbish public transport.

2021 - The LNP state government tries to privatise hospitals and sacks public servants yet again, and thus gets dumped by the voters yet again. The "shovel ready" yet again BaTty tunnel gets axed by the new ALP government and replaced by CRR version 999.

2024 - you can guess the rest. Brisbane's roads gets increasingly congested due to insufficient train service, and thus more roads are built instead.

So how do we stop this spiral of political stupidity?

With difficulty! Given that we may be seeing one term Queensland governments for a long while, there needs to be bi-partisan support of any Cross River Rail plan, instead of it being used as a political football. Brisbane City Council (bi-partisan support as well) is also required to support the plan. BrizCommuter has concerns that this will not happen due to idioticy and self-interest of Queensland politicians. Federal governments also need to start investing more in state capital rail infrastructure - now Tony Abbott is out of the way, the latter may happen.

Sunday, September 20, 2015

Is QR's Quiet Carriage a complete failure?

The Queensland Rail (QR) Quiet Carriage has always been a bit of a joke. Quiet carriages are never really suited to commuter rail lines, rather being suited to long distance journeys. The QR Quiet Carriage is not enforced, other than by angry, obese, aisle seat hogging, middle aged women. Families with screaming kids often end up the carriage as there are no pram spaces in adjacent carriages. Commuters with resonating headphones may end up in the carriage as it may the only one they can get a seat in. Really, it's a complete waste of time.

Just to prove this, BrizCommuter performed a highly scientific study, using a sound meter on his iPhone 6 between adjacent stations on the same train service to measure sound pressure level (dB). The train, just in case anyone cares, was an ageing EMU.

Not the 'Quite Carriage' peak volume - 90dB

'Quiet Carriage' peak volume - 95dB

The Quiet Carriage was actually noisier in both peak volume and max volume. The app used didn't provide average figures, though the it is quite likely that this was also higher in the Quiet Carriage. In this case, this possibly due to the quiet carriage being group of teens with Downs Syndrome, station announcements cranked up to maximum volume, and whining motors. Thus BrizCommuter concludes that the QR Quiet Carriage is indeed a waste of time.

Maybe QR should better spend their time eliminating aisle seat hogs and ladies who think their handbag can have it's own seat?

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Tony Abbott ruins the Commonwealth Games

Australia's backwards prime minister 
Tony Abbott has just continued to make Australia look like the world's most backwards developed country by refusing to fund stage 2 of the Gold Coast Light Rail. This phase 2 extension of the Gold Coast's G:link light rail system was to run from the current terminus of Gold Coast University Hospital to Helensvale. If it could have been funded, it would have opened just in time for the 2018 Commonwealth Games, and would made Southport and Surfers Paradise much more accessible by public transport from Brisbane and Logan. There would have been ongoing benefits of improved access between Brisbane, Logan, and the Gold Coast for locals and tourists after the games.

Unfortunately, due to Tony Abbott's "stuck in the 1960s" hatred of public transport (or in fact hatred of anything that could be seen as being environmentally friendly), funding has been refused for this essential project. So unless the cash strapped Queensland state government can urgently find $200m of funding, both Australia and the Gold Coast are going to look very very silly on the world stage in 2018.

Tony Abbott's bizarre hatred of public transport goes against the policy of every other developed country. Given, the popularity of the Gold Coast Light Rail amongst voters, this move could also cost Tony Abbott some seats, increasing his already high chance of loosing the next federal election.

Update 16/09/15

Australia has thankfully lost it's backwards, homophobic, misogynistic, immigrant hating immigrant prime minister. It is likely that the Gold Coast Light Rail decision could have affected the voting of Gold Coast LNP MPs when it came to ousting Tony Abbott. The new prime minister Malcolm Turnbull is known to be a public transport user. Can phase 2 of the Gold Coast Light Rail be rescued by Australia's new leader before it is too late? Or will Australia be laughing stock of the Commonwealth.

Update 11/10/15

Yay - Gold Coast Light Rail stage 2 is now funded, thanks to Australia now having a new prime minister who lives in the 21st century. You won't be missed Tony! 

Saturday, September 5, 2015

A billion $$$ for a 30 minute frequency?

The path of mediocrity
As TransLink and Queensland Rail have so far failed to provide any public consultation on timetables for Moreton Bay Rail Link (MBRL), questions need to be asked as to what train services will be seen on this $1b+ rail line?

There are rumours that Ipswich services will run on the MBRL to Kippa-Ring, and Springfield services will run to Caboolture. This indicates that is likely that each of these services will only see a 30 minute off-peak service. Yes, you heard that right, the billion dollar MBRL may only have a train every 30 minutes off-peak! The same happened on the Springfield Line, where hundreds of millions of dollars were also spent for a 30 minute off-peak train service - much to the annoyance of people trying to get to and from Springfield for work and university. Compare this to Melbourne where 10 minute off-peak frequencies are now common.

Peak timetables (discussed in the previous blog post) are also unknown, and lack of trains is also a potential issue. BrizCommuter would not be surprised if the peak timetable is also half-baked (e.g. train every 12 minutes), resulting in an unattractive peak train services for a new train line and resulting in overcrowding on some services. BrizCommuter hopes to be proved wrong here!

Connecting bus services are also an unknown. Instead of a half-decent feeder bus service as in most developed cities, expect an infrequent bus service that will probably stop running at 5:30pm (just before the arrival of the first train service leaving Brisbane's CBD after 5pm). The almost non-existent feeder bus services in Springfield are a likely pre-cursor to what to expect on the MBRL.

Will train station car parks run out of capacity? You bet, station car parking is always underestimated.

SE Queensland - expect mediocrity! 

Sunday, August 23, 2015

New Hospital Transport Meltdown

Lady Cilento Children's Hospital - Car Park Full!
In November 2014, the Lady Cilento Children's Hospital opened. This replaced the adjacent Mater Children's Hospital and Royal Children's Hospital in Herston. One of the supposed advantages of it's location near Brisbane's South Bank was that it is close to "world class" (sic) public transport systems. Mater Hill busway station is almost opposite, and South bank train station is a 5 to 10 minute walk. Driving to the hospital's location is horrendous, the Mater Health Services (note: not Queensland Health) run parking is disgustingly expensive, but yet the hospital's car park is often full before 9am, causing massive problems for staff and patients alike.

So if driving and parking is so bad, why are staff and patients continuing to avoid public transport?
  • Public transport for parents, patients, and visitors is too expensive - a 4 zone return fare (peak inbound, off-peak outbound) for Mum, Dad, and little Jonny with his broken arm is $23.57, more expensive than Mater Health Services' extortionate parking fees ($22 for 2 to 3 hours). 
  • Public transport for staff is too expensive - a 3 zone return fare (peak inbound and outbound) is at $9.32, more expensive than staff parking ($9/day)!
  • Even during the peak, the majority of Brisbane's population is not served by high frequency public transport. This was not helped by Brisbane City Council's rejection of TransLink's bus network review which would have improved this situation considerably. 
  • For anyone working outside of 8am to 5pm shifts, even less of Brisbane is served by half-decent public transport. Thus most hospital shift workers with early starts, late finishes, and weekend shifts have infrequent or non-existent public transport options. Queensland Rail's recent tendency to close trains lines in the evening for track repairs doesn't help either. 
  • ...and finally, who wants to bring sick kids to hospital on public transport. 
Given the above, it is no surprise that unless Brisbane's public transport system is made cheaper, and has more of the population covered by high-frequency services, than staff, parents, and visitors will continue to drive to hospital instead of using public transport. It also looks like Mater Health Services will continue to profiteer from public patients misfortunes. 

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Ekka better (but TransLink still defrauding passengers)

Good news for Ekka 2015 

Brisbane City Council (Brisbane Transport) have at long last stopped running bus services to/from the Ekka that compete directly with train services. They have even noticed that RBWH busway station can be used by people visiting the Ekka! After many years of completely useless, wasteful, and air carrying bus services competing with train services, this ridiculous practice has finally stopped. Now can Brisbane City Council sort out the rest of their wasteful, inefficient, and confusing to use bus network?

Bad news for Ekka 2015

TransLink are still defrauding public transport users by charging peak fares on the Wednesday 12th August public holiday, despite running off-peak (weekend) public transport services in Brisbane. Shame on you TransLink!

Redlands public transport users had a weekend bus service (well, that generally means no bus service) on a Monday. Not much use for people in Redlands who work in Brisbane where it wasn't a public holiday. Only in Queensland!

Why can't the go card replicate the $3 one way / $6 return Ekka fare? It is just dumb when a paper ticket is cheaper than using a go card (especially on the "peak fares" Wednesday public holiday). Also, it is a bit difficult to purchase the paper Ekka tickets from closed station ticket offices on weekends!

Of course, unlike many other events at RNA showgrounds and various SE Queensland stadiums, why can't RNA just pay for free public transport to and from the Ekka? Given all the development at the showgrounds it is not like the RNA are lacking in money?

Completely non-public transport related - if toilets get demolished as part of the RNA redevelopment, it would be rather nice to add more toilets to replace them. This years Ekka is just one giant toilet queue (if you find one)!

And finally...

There are some new showbags this year:

  • Brisbane City Council bus showbag - 499 different versions, all full of air.
  • Queensland Rail showbag - contains a train set with a 3-car train, and a can of sardines.
  • TransLink showbag - costs $10, and has $2 worth of contents. No refunds!
  • Redlands bus showbag - not available on Mondays. 
  • RNA toilet showbag - useful for deposits when you can't find a toilet at the Ekka. 

Sunday, July 26, 2015

Another Information Failure

Both TransLink and QR are far from perfect when it comes to providing customer information. Here is another example. 

Tracks are closed from 10:45pm you say?
Train services will be affected from approximately 10:15pm you say?

So if you were travelling from Central to Ferny Grove arriving at Central at 9pm, you think you would be OK, right? No, the last train from Central to Ferny Grove departs at 8:56pm - 1 hour and 19 minutes before the time that "trains services will be affected". If you turned up at South Bank to get to Ferny Grove at 8:46pm you would have missed the last train - despite there being 1 hour and 29 minutes until the time that "trains services will be affected".

It gets worse, for those travelling into Brisbane from outer suburban areas, the last train from Varsity Lakes is 8:40pm, the last train from Nambour is 8:13pm, and the last Beenleigh Line train departs at 7:48pm - a whopping 2 hours and 27 minutes before "services are affected". 

Whilst this information is available on TransLink's website, the last train information is not available on posters available at stations (or at least BrizCommuter hasn't seen them despite trying). Due to this, quite a few passengers are going to be having a much later night than they were expecting getting home including BrizCommuter. 

BrizCommuter suggests that in this case the statement should say "trains services will be progressively replaced by buses from 7:48pm"?

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Casino kills the BaT?

Just when you didn't think Queensland could have yet another transport failure, then here comes another one.

Nice casino, but where is the train station?
Casino operator Destination Brisbane Consortium (which includes Echo Entertainment Group) has been selected to build a massive new casino project along Brisbane's Queens Wharf. Fantastic news for this who like it throw away their money, eat overpriced food, and hopefully find a few new photo spots. Unfortunately, it is unclear as to what will happen to the planned underground train station on George Street. This was part of the previous LNP government's BaT Tunnel plan - the plan that forgot the interchange at Park Road. Since the BaT Tunnel/Cross River Rail is currently in limbo due to lack of LNP federal and ALP state government funding, it is unclear if the plans still allow for the construction of this station. If the underground station box is not constructed as part of this development, then it rules out the "cheaper" George Street alignment for Brisbane's urgently required rail tunnel, and will ultimately add to the cost of the tunnels construction due to property acquisitions being required elsewhere. 

It is also unclear as to whether the consortium is expected to fund or at least partially fund the construction of the station. In Europe this would be a given - for example the developers and occupiers of Canary Wharf in London placed a considerable amount of funding for the Jubilee Line. If the George Street station is not built at all, then that pretty much rules out any funding by a consortium that is not exactly lacking in funds. 

The casino is expected to open in 2022.  Even if the rail tunnel project suddenly had a kick-start, it is unlikely to be open before this date. Thus there will be a casino opening with no train station within approximately 12 minutes walking distance. This is in contrast to casinos in Melbourne and Sydney with Light Rail/Trams at the door. There might be a bus, but as this is Brisbane, it'll probably stop running at 5:30pm. 

As information is very much lacking, it cannot be completely ruled out that a station will be built and funded as part of the casino development. However it is looking in danger of joining a huge list of recent public transport failures in SE Queensland which include:
  • Time running out to fund the extension of Gold Coast Light Rail / G:link to Helensvale to be completed ahead of the 2018 Commonwealth Games. 
  • Failure to link Legacy Way tunnel with the Inner Northern Busway. 
  • Not enough trains to run a decent peak train service. 
  • Failure to implement an efficient bus network in Brisbane. 
  • Failure to provision an extension of the Doomben Line to Northshore Hamilton. 
Brizvegas continues with its backwards reputation. 

Note: BrizCommuter would like to state that he does not blame the chosen consortium for the looming public transport failure. The blame is well and truly placed in successive state and federal governments. 

Destination Brisbane webpage:

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Gold Coast G:link Extension - Last Chance Saloon

End of the track for funding?
The Gold Coast Commonwealth Games will be held in 2018, just three years away. Unfortunately, there is a big missing link in the Gold Coast's public transport system.  The Gold Coast Light Rail system (known as the G:Link) currently runs from Broadbeach to Gold Coast University Hospital. It unfortunately does not link up with the train line to Brisbane at Helensvale - the lack of this connection was a big mistake in the original design and funding of this system. This link is essential for visitors from Brisbane to access the event areas in Southport easily and quickly by public transport. This link would also be a lasting legacy for improved access from Brisbane and Logan areas to the Gold Coasts beaches, which would be a boon for tourism, locals, and businesses.

Unfortunately, successive state governments (both LNP and ALP) have failed to fund this essential extension. Tony Abbott's "stuck in the 1960s" federal government are also refusing to fund the extension (probably due to the fact that trams don't run on oil or coal). There is now very little time left for work to start so that the G:Link extension can be open before the Commonwealth Games. With no funding in the 2015 state budget, things are looking very grim with only a few months for funding to be found.

If the G:link extension to Helensvale is not completed before the Commonwealth Games, then the impact will be:

  • Poor access by public transport to/from Gold Coast's beach precincts during the games - increasing reliability on buses, and private car (hear Tony Abbott rejoicing for the latter). 
  • No public transport legacy from the Commonwealth Games, for probably the first time in it's history! 
  • Continuing perception from the rest of the world that Queensland, and Australia are backwards. 
  • Continuing poor access from Brisbane and Logan to Gold Coast beach precincts for tourists and locals. 
Only in Queensland is there such incompetence when it comes to public transport planning. 

PS: The failure to extend the heavy rail from Varsity Lakes to Gold Coast airport, and failure to add track amplifications along the Beenleigh Line corridor to allow for a high frequency bi-directional train service to/from the Gold Coast before the Commonwealth Games are both embarrassing for Queensland and Australia. 

Monday, June 29, 2015

Legacy of Failure

Westbound tunnel - no buses planned
When Brisbane's Legacy Way was first announced, then Lord Mayor Campbell Newman announced that it would be used by up to 2000 express buses per day. Unfortunately due to typical Queensland political incompetence (seemingly involving the previous Labor State Government), the direct connections between Legacy Way and the Inner Northern Busway at Kelvin Grove were never constructed.

In a desperate attempt to make some use of Legacy Way for buses, Lord Mayor (and bus network failure denier) Graham Quirk announced that Route P443 would use Legacy Way for a three month trial. This routing started from Monday 29th June. Unfortunately, due to the lack of direct Legacy Way to Inner Northern Busway connection, the inbound route P443 bus has to:

  1. Exit Legacy Way onto the Inner City Bypass
  2. Travel outbound (yes, outbound) on the Inner City bypass for a kilometre
  3. Exit the Inner City Bypass onto a congested slip road at Herston
  4. Negotiate a junction and some traffic lights
  5. Travel one and half kilometres inbound along the Inner Northern Busway to get back to where is passes the Legacy Way portal

This laughably indirect routing means that there are likely to be only a couple of minutes time savings based on the timetabled 23 minutes from Chapel Hill to Roma Street via Coronation Drive. At least reliability should hopefully be better via the tunnel! Opportunities of adding stops at QUT Kelvin Grove for students travelling in from Western suburbs have been missed, as the re-routed P443 will not stop at any Inner Northern Busway stops until Roma Street.

The re-routing of the route P443 will also only occur for inbound am peak journeys. This is because an outbound pm peak journey connecting between the Inner Northern Busway and Legacy Way would involve an even more out of the way detour via the spaghetti junction at Bowen Hills/Windsor. Thus it is faster to use the existing outbound route via the congested Coronation Drive.

Interestingly Translink have so far failed to produce a timetable showing the new route, or new arrival times in the CBD for the re-routed P443 bus. Whether this is due to lack of time since the announcement, or just laziness, is unknown.

The failure to construct a direct connection between Legacy Way and the Inner Northern Busway has resulted in just 7 express buses per day instead of the originally envisaged 2000 express buses per day using Legacy Way. A great opportunity to improved public transport journey times from the Western and Centenary suburbs has been missed. This has to be high up the list of epic Queensland public transport failures, a list that is sadly very very long.

TransLink notice:

Friday, June 26, 2015

Skipping stations - time to tell the truth QR?

Not again! 
In the last year or so it has become common practice for Queensland Rail (QR) to make trains skip stations when running late, especially during the peak period. This allows the train to arrive at the terminus station within the margins to be deemed an "on time" statistic, and also allows for on-time running on subsequent journeys. This "on time" statistic is completely misleading for the customers who could not use that train service as it was bypassing their station. For the affected customers, who generally seem to be inner-suburban commuters, the "on time" train is effectively a cancellation, and a typical additional (and unacceptable) wait of around 15 minutes is not uncommon.

In Melbourne, where trains skipping stations is also a chronic issue, Metro Trains are finally being held to task. Station skipping data in Melbourne for the last 13 months was released by Public Transport Victoria in early May 2015. This showed 2119 services having been changed to an unscheduled express service within the 13 month period, with one month having 322 affected services.

Unfortunately in Brisbane, the station skipping statistics have not yet been released. BrizCommuter calls on QR and the Queensland Government to release these statistics as part of QR's on time running statistics. Commuters should be told the truth! In fact, whilst they are at it, what ever happened to the QR Passenger Load Survey which has also gone missing in action (again) for the last few years? Or is the flailing public transport patronage too difficult for successive Queensland Governments TransLink, and QR to admit to?

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Moreton Bay Rail Link - not enough trains?

NGR - Can't come soon enough! 
The Moreton Bay Rail Link (MBRL) is expected to open in mid-late 2016.  Queensland Rail's Next Generation Rolling Stock (NGR) is also expected to be introduced into service from mid 2016 after being shipped in from India. There are currently only just about enough trains to run Queensland Rail's sub-optimal peak timetables, resulting in overcrowded 3-car units on the Ferny Grove and Cleveland Lines, odd gaps in peak services, and bizarre early finish of the pm peak express service on the Cleveland Line. Thus the big question, is will there be enough trains to operate a decent train service on the MBRL from opening?

In the am peak's busiest hour, 9 Caboolture Line services start from Petrie (every 6 minutes, with one 12 minute gap). It would be sensible to extend all of these services to start at from Kippa-Ring, the terminus of MBRL. Any less would result in overcrowding and/or uneven loadings. BrizCommuter estimates a 15 minute journey time in each direction (10 if the train is out of service), and an 8 minute peak dwell time at the terminus. Thus to handle all of the services that need to be extended from Petrie to Kippa-Ring, would require an estimated six additional 6-car trains.

Thus unless approximately six NGR trains are delivered, tested, and troubleshot, before the opening of MBRL, there is a big problem. Unfortunately, it looks like this may not be the case. BrizCommuter thinks is it is quite likely that due to lack of trains the Moreton Bail Rail Link could open with an inadequate train services due to lack of trains. If this occurs, the resulting initial overcrowding and poor service frequency will limit the uptake of use of this new train line, and create a poor reputation (a la Gold Coast Line). Alternatively MBRL opening may need to be delayed to wait for sufficient NGR trains to be introduced into services - movement of official opening dates to "late 2016" despite claims of the project being "months ahead of schedule" make this look like it could be the case. Thus MBRL could follow the list of SE Queensland infrastructure implementation disasters caused by piss poor planning, and clueless politicians:

  • Extension of Inner Northern Busway to RBWH, but the route 66 bus wasn't extended to RBWH until 7 months later -  resulting in passengers waiting up to 55 minutes to board a bus that wasn't already full!
  • Duplication of the Ferny Grove Line from Keperra to Ferny Grove - yet trains still terminated at Mitchelton for a further two years. 
  • Opening of Richlands Line, which initially operated with a dodgy peak shuttle service to Darra, and ensuing "just missed" connections.  

Better get those trains delivered quick!

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Northshore Hamilton - Transport Fail

CityCat - slow, low capacity
The Courier Mail have today reported that "The Queensland Government today announced it will work exclusively with Leighton Properties to finalise a detailed proposal to design and build more than 700 apartments as well as commercial buildings on a 2ha riverfront site in Northshore Hamilton". Watching the embedded video, it appears that 2.5km long Northshore Hamilton development will ultimately create 15,000 jobs, have 4000 apartments, and a conference centre. With the potential for around 40,000 transport trips to or from Northshore Hamilton daily, you would expect good public transport?

In the typical transport failure that once can only expect in Queensland, the public transport options will be:
1) CityCat - frequent enough (every 15 minutes), but very low capacity (max 162 passengers), takes a painfully slow 45 minutes to get to the CBD, and has poor onward transport links. Capacity would be a pathetic 648 passengers/hour/direction.
2) Shuttle bus service from the Doomben Line - assuming the Doomben Line is not being upgraded, then read into this a pathetic half-hourly feeder bus. Additional time to change from bus to rail will make this somewhat unattractive. Capacity, using a normal size bus would be 120 passengers/hour/direction.

What should be done:
1) At the minimum - a high frequency (CityGlider like) express bus route from Northshore Hamilton to the CBD. This would only handle around 1,200 passengers/hour/direction at 5 minute frequency and large multi-section buses. This may be insufficient in the future.
2) More preferable - extend and partially duplicate the Doomben Line into Northshore Hamilton. This is possible as the railway land already exists. A 15 minute frequency should be sufficient, and would allow journey times to the CBD in less than 25 minutes, with good onward bus and rail connections. This could handle 4,000 passengers/hour/direction. A local high frequency bus route could feed parts of Northshore Hamilton that are beyond walking distance of the train station.

The latter would require urgent re-design of the Northshore Hamilton development, and a road bridge over the railway on Kingsford Smith Drive. Backwards car centric planning means that it may be too late for this. In any European city, a development such as this would be served by heavy rail. Sadly, in Australia, it seem that planners cannot see beyond their car dashboards.

Northshore hamilton website:

Sunday, May 24, 2015

#GetMovingSEQ - BrizCommuter's Thoughts

More rail please! 
Whilst BrizCommuter has been on a bit of a hiatus for the last year or so, most readers of the blog would be aware that Brisbane's public transport is an overpriced, inefficient, and confusing mess. With complete lack of action (i.e. putting the shovel in the ground) on the much needed cross city rail tunnel (Cross River Rail/BaT Tunnel) due to the incompetence of three consecutive state and two consecutive federal governments, Brisbane and it's sprawling suburbs are heading towards congestion meltdown.

Unfortunately, Brisbane's only newspaper, the Courier Mail,  has had a car bias for many years. This is not surprising as the Murdoch press has been aligned with the right side of politics for some time. Stories have never quite got to the point of the issues, one of the reasons by Rail Back on Track lobby group, and blogs such as BrizCommuter are in existence. It is thus of a pleasant surprise that the Courier Mail has just started a campaign, called #GetMovingSEQ to help resolve Brisbane's looming commuter crisis via social media pressure.

The first story in this campaign is below:

So what in BrizCommuter's opinion needs to be done to sort out Brisbane's congestion crisis:

Short term - 2015 to 2022

  1. Redesign Brisbane's inefficient and confusing bus network, with a less confusing, and better designed bus network with more high frequency routes. Cost - nothing, apart from political balls! 
  2. Make the best use out Brisbane'e existing train infrastructure by installing ERTMS level 2 high capacity signalling to run the best possible service (24tph per track through the CBD in peak, and 15 minute service on all lines off-peak) on the existing train network. To achieve this, there may also need to be track enhancements along parts of the Gold Coast/Beenleigh Line corridor, additional trains purchased, and additional train stabling. Cost approx. $2.5b. 
  3. Make public transport fares more attractive, to increase public transport patronage, helping to reduce road congestion. Cost - nothing. 
  4. Extend the Gold Coast Light Rail to Helensvale. Cost $1b. 
  5. Finalise the design and actually start building the cross city rail tunnel !!!
  6. Start designing considerable expansion of SE Queensland's rail network - North West Transportation Corridor/Trouts Rd Line (see previous blog post), rail to Caloundra and Mooloolaba, rail to Greater Flagstone, Gold Coast Line extension to Coolangatta, Cleveland Line duplication, Gold Coast Light Rail extension to Burleigh, Doomben Line duplication and extension to Hamilton Northshore. 
  7. Stop the spread of low density urban sprawl away from existing/planned transport corridors, as it is unsustainable for transportation. 
  8. Design new suburbs to allow for bus services or even a low cost busway (that can feed train lines, or higher frequency bus routes). Runcorn's (England) busway is a good example of this. 
Longer term - 2022 to 2030 years
  1. Open Brisbane's cross city rail tunnel. Total cost approx. $5b. 
  2. Build the North West Transportation Corridor/Trouts Rd Line (see previous blog post), rail to Caloundra and Mooloolaba, rail to Greater Flagstone, Gold Coast Line extension to Coolangatta, Cleveland Line duplication, Gold Coast Light Rail extension to Burleigh, Doomben Line duplication and extension to Hamilton Northshore. Estimated cost on average $1.5b/year.  
  3. Instead of extending busways, build low cost bus lanes where required. Cost, approx. $1b. 
Sadly, both sides of state politics, and the current federal government,are so incompetent when it comes to public transport that BrizCommuter doubts we will even see the first dot point in the near future, let alone the other requirements. 

Saturday, May 23, 2015

What is Tony Abbott's problem with trains?

Multiple essential public transport projects are required to prevent Australia's state capitals and major cities from becoming congested and economically uncompetitive cities. These projects include:

  • Brisbane's cross river train tunnel (Cross River Rail/BaT Tunnel).
  • Melbourne's Metro Rail Project.
  • Gold Coast Light Rail extensions.
  • Adelaide rail network electrification. 
Unfortunately, Australia's budgie smuggler wearing, misogynist, homophobic prime minister Tony Abbott refuses to fund public transport infrastructure projects from federal funds. This stuck in the 1950s policy, makes Australia look backwards compared to pretty much every other developed country in the world which is now investing in public transport over roads. Whilst road spending is still important, there have been many studies shown that investing in urban road infrastructure does not resolve congestion. 

So why does Tony Abbott have such a hatred for trains?
  • Was it due to their being no Thomas the Tank engine and Friends character being called Tony?
  • Was he teased at school for having a train set instead of a Scalextric?
  • Is he worried that asylum seekers or gays might come into the country via train? 
  • Is he worried that trains could have female drivers?
  • Will the oil companies help fund his retirement?
  • Is it due to lack of income to the LNP from companies involved in public transport?  
  • Or is he just an idiot stuck with 50 years out of date policies?
There is little question that unless Tony Abbott has a policy U-turn on federal funding for public transport, then he will be crippling Australian cities economically and environmentally for decades to come. 

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Trouts Road corridor - the key to unlocking SE Queensland?

Trouts Road Corridor 
The North West Transportation Corridor, also known as the Trouts Road Corridor is a strip of land running through Brisbane's Northern Suburbs designed for future transport development. Originally planned as a freeway back in the 1970s , it was more recently featured as a rail line in the previous ALP's government's Connecting SEQ 2031, released shortly before the end of there last tenure. Little had been heard about this transport corridor during the LNP tenure, and the seemingly abandoned BaT tunnel design did not have stubs to allow it to continue towards the Trouts Road Corridor. Sadly due to political ineptitude from both sides of politics at both state and federal level, Brisbane's cross city rail tunnel is currently dead in the water. However, this could at least provide some opportunity for re-thinking the requirements.

To maximise long term capacity on all of the present and future northern railway branches (Sunshine Coast/Caboolture, Kippa-Ring, Shorncliffe, Airport, Doomben, and Ferny Grove) the options are as follows:

via Exhibition, Albion, and Northgate
  • Additional tracks and a grade separated junction would be required between the Victoria Park BaT/Cross River Rail portal, and Albion. This area is already partially developed, and track amplification would be very expensive. 
  • An additional two tracks (6 total) would be required between Albion and Eagle Junction. This area is almost fully developed, and track amplification would again be very expensive. 
  • An additional track (4 total) would be required between Northgate and Petrie. This area is partially developed and an additional track would be expensive. 
Note 1: Assumptions are made that between Eagle Junction and Albion that Caboolture/Sunshine Coast would require a track pair, Kippa-Ring/Shorncliffe would require another, and Airport/Doomben/(+Ferny Grove) would require the other. ERTMS signalling would allow for up to 24tph on each track. 

Whilst increasing overall network capacity, this plan would not decrease peak journey times for commuters on any line, and would not provide any expansion of the rail network.  

via Trouts Road Corridor (North West Transportation Corridor)
  • The BaT/Cross River Rail tunnel would ideally be routed towards a tunnel portal north of Alderley, with a station at Kelvin Grove. As with any tunnelling, this would be very expensive, but opens up a new catchment to rail travel. 
  • Three tracks would ideally be required along the Trouts Road corridor (peak direction express track for Sunshine Coast/Caboolture services to overtake local Strathpine to City services). Few property resumptions would be required, as this is a reserved transport corridor. It would open a huge new catchment to rail travel. 
  • An additional track would be required between Strathpine and Petrie, along with a grade separated junction and reversing facilities at Strathpine. 
Assumptions: Assumptions are made that Caboolture/Sunshine Coast/Strathpine local services would use the Trouts Road Corridor, Kippa-Ring/Shorncliffe would use one of the existing track pairs between Northgate and the CBD, and Airport/Doomben/(Ferny Grove) would use the other existing. ERTMS signalling would allow for up to 24tph on each track. 

Benefits: This plan would considerably increase overall network capacity, would significantly decrease peak and off-peak journey times for Sunshine Coast/Caboolture Line commuters travelling to the CBD, and would provide a huge expansion of the rail network with new stations around Kelvin Grove, Everton Park, Flockton Street, Hamilton Road, Albany Creek Rd, and Carseldine (West). 


BrizCommuter would estimate that whilst building the Trouts Road corridor in the near future would be more expensive in the short-term. However, the long term cost/benefit of the two options would sway in favour of Trouts Road corridor as it would remove the need for unnecessary enhancements between Exhibition and Strathpine via Northgate.

BrizCommuter is somewhat pessimistic that we will see a new cross Brisbane rail tunnel built for a long while, however when plans do come to fruition, it should be designed with Trouts Rd corridor in mind instead of running trains via Exhibition, Albion, and Northgate. 

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Brisbane - New World City?

Brisbane's "popular" public transport system
Brisbane City Council proudly claim that Brisbane is Australia's "New World City". This is a rather convenient phrase as a "World City" has little meaning, no different from calling something "World Class".

Assuming that this "World City" catchphrase means a "Global City" or "Alpha City" - cities that are "considered to be an important node in the global economic system", then as far as public transport is concerned, does Brisbane stack up to being a "New World City"?

  • Surely a "World City" would be able to build a new rail tunnel such as Cross River Rail when there is a looming capacity crisis? Not Brisbane!
  • Surely a "World City" would have an easy to use, simple, and efficient bus network? Not Brisbane!
  • Surely a "World City" would be able to build a busway for cheaper than a train line? Not Brisbane!
  • Surely a "World City" would make public transport more attractive than congested roads with low fares? Not Brisbane!
  • Surely a "World City"would have a half-decent daily fare option for tourists? Not Brisbane!
  • Surely a "World City" would have enough trains to cope with peak service demand and new train lines? Not Brisbane!
  • Surely a "World City" would have refunds for severe public transport delays? Not Brisbane!
  • Surely a "World City" would include trains that bypass stations as cancelled train statistics? Not Brisbane!
  • Surely a sub-tropical "World City" would have a train network that can cope with a bit of rain? Not Brisbane!
According to the source of all truth - Wikipedia, Brisbane is in fact not a "World City" by its "Alpha City" definition, but is in fact a "Beta City". Going by that definition, if it was a man, it would fail miserably to pick up the pretty ladies. Feel sorry for "Gamma City" Adelaide. 

When it comes to public transport, Brisbane is an Omega City. Going by that definition, if it was a man, it would end up with the ugly chicks (and no BrizCommuter is not referring to Annastacia). 

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

TransLink - Information Slow-verload.

When something goes wrong on public transport, it is a good idea to tell the travelling public what is happen within a reasonable timeframe. Unfortunately, it seems that TransLink haven't quite got this memo. Here are three examples just from the last fortnight, why TransLink (and also at times Queensland Rail) need a huge kick up the posterior when it comes to providing information to long suffering SE Queensland commuters.

Signal Failure
QR's illogical policy of sometimes using one track pair through the CBD during the daytime always causes delays. However on this day, a signal failure was added to the mix. BrizCommuter's train from Bowen Hills to Ferny Grove arrived at Bowen Hills 5 minutes late. Due to a signal failure, it departed 19 minutes late. As QR were just utilising one track pair through the CBD, trains on all northbound lines would have been blocking back through the CBD. Unfortunately, TransLink didn't announce the delay on their website until 90 minutes later. No messages were received on MyTransLink app.

Cancelled Train
Just when Ferny Grove Line sufferers thought running 3-car units in the am peak or skipping stations in the pm peak are annoying enough, QR kindly cancelled a busy service. This time, TransLink managed to have a message on their website only 10 minutes after the train was scheduled to depart Ferny Grove. Unfortunately, the next advertised services was incorrect - can anyone at TransLink read a timetable? The message made it to MyTransLink app, just as the cancelled services would have reached it's terminus at Roma Street. A little bit late one thinks?

"That" Storm
Things can go pear shaped pretty quickly during wet weather and storms. However the rain event on Friday 1st May 2015 took the biscuit for lacking information. Around 4pm when TransLink's website showed all service as being normal (apart from the Caboolture Line), many commuters were already Facebooking and Tweeting that their trains were going nowhere quickly.

BrizCommuter was travelling home after 6pm, sat next to guards compartment, and could hear detailed messages going out about delays and operations (notably 15 minute gaps between trains through Fortitude Valley). Unfortunately none of that info was being passed on to commuters at CBD stations. Maybe QR were a bit embarrassed about Fortitude Valley station being taken over by a synchronised swimming team again? Many reports from around the internet, show that customer information during and after the storm varied from poor to non-existent.

The icing on the cake was passengers on the Caboolture and Sunshine Coast Lines being told "to find their own way home". Erm, doesn't that defeat the point of public transport? Only in Queensland!