Saturday, February 27, 2016

Greenies CityGlider

During the 2016 Brisbane City Council election campaign, BrizCommuter has been waiting for at least one side of politics to announce another "CityGlider" bus route. Surprisingly, The Greens have beaten the other parties to it. The Greens have funnily enough called their planned CityGlider the Green CityGlider. It runs from Enoggera to Doomben, and also includes a cycle path along Kingsford Smith Drive instead of the LNP's unnecessary $650m widening.  A screenshot from The Greens website is below.

So what are the good points of the Green CityGlider?
  • High frequency bus service along Wardell St (Enoggera, Dorrington, and Ashgrove) and Waterworks Rd (Ashgrove, Redhill) would be a considerable improvement along these corridors.
  • High frequency bus service to Portside would be useful. 
  • Won't get stuck in CBD traffic. 
  • Cycle way along Kingsford Smith drive would be useful. 
What is not so good about the Green CityGlider?
  • Why is it serving Doomben, instead of running through the length of Northshore Hamilton? The latter will within a few years be infinitely more useful. 
  • Most of the commuters from Wardell St, Waterworks Rd, and Portside would rather access the CBD, which this route bypasses. 
  • Poor interchange with rail - misses Bowen Hills by a block. 
Whilst BrizCommuter commends the The Greens for attempting a 'not via the CBD bus route', there is a chance it may end up like many other 'not via the CBD bus routes' and mainly be carrying air. Most commuters from these catchments would probably rather access the CBD. If it keeps its 'not via the CBD route', it may be advisable to have better interchange with rail at Bowen Hills, rather than with the Blue CityGlider in Newstead. The Eastern end should run the length of Northshore Hamilton instead of terminating at Doomben. 

Without descending into "fantasy bus route" territory, at the Western End, existing high frequency bus routes could be re-arranged without adding new bus routes such as the Green CityGlider. The Maroon CityGlider duplicates the route 385 (The Gap Buz) throughout it's routing from the CBD to Bardon (via Given and Latrobe Terrace), but confusingly with some stops being in different places. It may be preferable to route the 385 completely via Waterworks Rd, and extend the Maroon CityGlider from Ashgrove to Enoggera. This would increase high frequency network coverage with no increase in bus routes. Commuters along Coopers Camp Road would however miss out. 

As this is an idea from The Greens, it is highly unlikely it will see the light of day anyway. However, it seems to make more sense than the ALP and LNP's ridiculous plans to spend more than a billion $$$ on metros or trams.

Note: The Greens have also announced the Centenary Glider which would sensibly bring a high frequency bus route to Centenary Suburbs for the first time. Hopefully this would replace the confusing mix if infrequent bus routes that currently serve this large suburb. 

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

The Early Bird doesn't catch the Springfield Line

Sorry, wrong Springfield! 
Whilst most workers in central Brisbane work somewhere between 8am and 5pm, there are still many workers who have to start much earlier, often around 6am. Examples include hospital staff, security, cleaners, emergency workers, and some construction industry workers. So at what times does the first weekday service from each line reach Central*?

  • Beenleigh - 5:26am
  • Airport - 5:29am
  • Cleveland - 5:43am
  • Doomben - 6:22am
  • Ferny Grove - 5:34am
  • Gold Coast - 5:31am
  • Ipswich - 5:37am
  • Shorncliffe - 5:47am
  • Springfield - 6:22am
  • Sunshine Coast - 6:22am
  • Caboolture - 4:56am (from opening of MBRL)
  • Kippa-Ring - 4:41am (from opening of MBRL)
Passengers on the Springfield, Sunshine Coast, and Doomben Lines are not able to get to work in time for a 6am start by train. The Doomben Line can be excused due to it's low patronage, and the Sunshine Coast due to it's long distance (though Gold Coast commuters can easily get to work for 6am). However, the failure for Queensland Rail (QR) to get Springfield Line commuters to work for 6am is quite disgraceful. In fact Kippa-Ring commuters will get a first train arriving at Central 1 hour 40 minutes earlier than Springfield commuters! Public transport is supposed to provide a public service, but in this case it is forcing commuters into cars and onto the roads. 

Shorncliffe and Cleveland Line commuters would have difficulty getting to work on the opposite side of the CBD by 6am (e.g. Shorncliffe Line users getting to work at Mater, Lady Cilento, or Princess Alexandra Hospitals). Connections onto the half-hourly Airtrain services are also critical for those morning flights, especially with the Airtrain service running only half-hourly until 7am. Poor connections often force Airport users into cars and taxis.  

QR need to give serious consideration to improving the start times of the first weekday morning service on some lines.   

*OK, a few of these may be departure times from Central, but what's a few minutes here and there. 

Sunday, February 21, 2016

Rod Harding announces light rail plans, sort of...

Trams in the Valley? 
After announcing an over-60s vote grabbing un-costed policy of bringing back trams to Brisbane a few weeks back, ALP mayoral candidate Rod Harding has announced more detail. However, more detail is still required.

  • $1.22b light rail from UQ to Newstead. A second phase will connect Princess Alexandra Hospital (PAH) and RBWH, and there may be extensions to Northshore Hamilton - more on the light rail plans further on in this blog post. 
  • $20m - more frequent bus services for the suburbs - not clear if this is a true bus network reform, but it is a step in the right direction.
  • Circa $300m on building "bus lanes" instead of the previously proposed Northern and Eastern busway extensions and some level crossing replacements - a sensible policy. 
  • $28.5m on Free Fare Friday - this utterly stupid idea has been discussed previously in this blog post. 
So what does BrizCommuter think of the light rail plan?
  • The $1.22b light rail only has $140m of planned funding from Brisbane City Council (BCC). It seems that Rod Harding thus wants the "cash strapped" state and federal governments to cough up the dough for his idea. Given that this idea isn't on either government's agenda, BrizCommuter would think it would be better if BCC coughed up some funding for the urgently required Cross River Rail (CRR) instead. 
  • It is concerning that CRR only has one mention in Rod Harding's policy paper. In another of his election policy files, he mentions working in partnership with the state government. Have you have discussed the Free Fare Friday and light rail with the state government yet Rod? 
  • Is spending on $1.22b for light rail to replace parts of two existing bus routes (Blue CityGlider and 66) a good use of money? Probably not value for money, though as with the Gold Coast's Light Rail (G:link) it would likely increase patronage on the same routes. Enough to make a business case, probably not?
  • It is unknown if the Victoria Bridge can support light rail. If not, the costs will shoot up!
  • There may be issues with trams sharing streets with cars and buses along the route. 
  • The 2nd phase, appears to use the Story Bridge and possibly Inner Northern Busway. There are quite a few obvious problems with this! 
  • The mooted extension to Northshore Hamilton would not be required if the Doomben Line was quite simply extended at relatively low cost. 
Whilst it is good that public transport has finally become a major election issue, it is shame that the ALP and LNP mayoral candidates just don't quite get it. There needs to be more support behind CRR, proper bus network reform, and fares need to left to TransLink. Most importantly, vote grabbing infrastructure ideas need to be put on ice unless there is state government approval.  

Thursday, February 18, 2016

The BrizCommuter Rail Capacity Study

A few weeks ago, BrizCommuter looked at rail infrastructure recommended by the Inner City Rail Capacity Study, and what was actually delivered. The outcome was that SE Queensland is far behind where it should be to cope with future travel demand and urban growth.

Since that post, Infrastructure Australia and Engineers Australia Queensland have weighed in on the issue in this Brisbane Times news article which covers the lack of transport infrastructure, and huge population increases expected in SE Queensland over the next decade or so.

In this detailed blog post, BrizCommuter looks at what can be improved, or what can't be improved until Cross River Rail (CRR) and related rail infrastructure are constructed. As usual, BrizCommuter reviews lines in a clockwise direction.

Ferny Grove Line
Until CRR is built, the Ferny Grove line is limited to 8tph peak service with all 6-car unit trains. It is currently limited to 8 trains per hour per direction (tph) with some 3-car unit trains in the am peak, and 6tph in the pm peak due to lack of trains and crew.

Current peak capacity: 6 to 8tph (with some 3-car units)
Max capacity pre-CRR: 8tph (all 6-car units)
Max capacity post-CRR: 12tph
Infrastructure required: More trains. Wye junction at Mayne. Removal of more dangerous level crossings.

Caboolture/Sunshine Coast/Kippa-Ring Lines
Unless there are any signalling improvements such as European Train Control System Level 2 (ETCS), the Caboolture, Sunshine Coast, and Kippa-Ring Lines can only add 2tph in the am peak (from the current 18tph). A few more trains may be possible in the pm peak, but train paths for the rarely operated Ekka Loop service also have to be available. Duplications of the Sunshine Coast Line and/or a branch to Caloundra will improve the frequency for services north of Caboolture. Capacity increases south of Caboolture are limited even if CRR is constructed, due to all of these lines sharing tracks between Petrie and Brisbane. Thus BrizCommuter predicts that there may be a significant increase in overcrowding on these services over the next decade. The only realistic solution is to build a new line along the Trouts Rd/Northwest Transportation Corridor linking CRR to the existing Caboolture Line in the Strathpine area. 4 tracks would be required between Petrie and the junction with the Trouts Rd Line.

With a pathetic 2tph off-peak services to Caboolture and Kippa-Ring, there is potential for improved off-peak services with no extra infrastructure required. More trains and crew would be required.

Current peak capacity: 18tph
Max capacity pre-CRR: 20tph (24tph if ETCS installed)
Max capacity post-CRR: 20tph (24tph if ETCS installed)
Max capacity post-CRR and Trouts Rd Line: 30tph (36tph if ETCS installed)*.
Infrastructure required: More trains and stabling. Construction of Trouts Rd Line with 3 or 4 tracks, Caloundra Line, duplications and/or additional platforms at passing points between Beerburrum to Nambour, quadruplication Petrie to junction with Trouts Rd Line.

*assumption that 24tph Caboolture/Sunshine Coast/Trouts Rd local services would use the Trouts Rd Line, and 12tph from Kippa-Ring would use the "mains" tracks via Northgate (shared with up to 12tph Shorncliffe trains from Northgate to CBD).

Shorncliffe Line
The Shorncliffe Line currently runs a 4tph peak service to/from Shorncliffe. 4tph will soon turn-back short at Northgate in the peak. Irrespective of CRR, this cannot be improved without duplication between Sandgate and Shorncliffe, and a 2nd platform at Shorncliffe. A duplication would potentially allow for a 8tph peak service to Shorncliffe, which would probably meet demand for a long time. Off-peak services to Shorncliffe could be improved to 4tph, however due to the short dwell time at Shorncliffe this would be susceptible to poor reliability.

Current peak capacity: 4tph
Max capacity pre or post-CRR with no duplication: 4tph
Max capacity pre or post-CRR with duplication: 8tph
Max capacity post-CRR with duplication and grade separation at Northgate: 12tph
Infrastructure required: More trains. Duplication between Sandgate and Shorncliffe, including 2nd platform at Shorncliffe.

Airport Line
The Airport Line currently runs a weekday peak and off-peak service of 2tph to 4tph, currently limited to lack of trains, crew, and willpower. Irrespective of CRR, the Airport Line is limited to 4tph due to a very long single track section, and demand is unlikely to exceed capacity (note: London's Heathrow express also operates at 4tph).

Current peak capacity: 2 to 4tph
Max capacity pre or post-CRR with no duplication: 4tph
Infrastructure required: More trains. No extra track/station infrastructure.

Doomben Line
The Doomben Line currently runs 2tph during the peak and weekday off-peak. Improvements are limited by the single track, and a duplication would be required for any service improvements. Though demand is currently low, there may be significant latent demand due to the traditionally poor frequency of this line. There are 2tph unused track slots currently available, though using up these track slots would likely cause severe unreliability for the 7 lines that share the "suburban" tracks through the CBD. An extension to Northshore Hamilton would be wise, but sadly is not likely to occur to terrible urban planning.

Current peak capacity: 2tph
Max capacity pre or post-CRR with no duplication: 2tph
Max capacity pre-CRR with duplication: 4tph
Max capacity post-CRR with duplication:  8tph (though this demand would be unlikely without an extension).
Infrastructure required: More trains. Partial or complete duplication.

Cleveland Line
The Cleveland Line currently runs up 8tph in the peaks, 4tph being Cleveland expresses, and 4tph Manly all stations. The pm peak service span is currently limited by lack of trains. The 8tph peak service cannot be improved until both CRR is built, and the Cleveland Line is duplicated between Manly and Cleveland.

The off-peak service is 4tph to Cannon Hill, and 2tph to Cleveland. With sufficient trains, the off-peak service could be extended to Manly. Theoretically the 4tph off-peak service could be extended to Cleveland but with poor reliability. Again, a duplication is required here.

Current peak capacity: 8tph
Max capacity pre or post-CRR with no duplication: 8tph
Max capacity pre-CRR with duplication: 8tph
Max capacity post-CRR with duplication: 12tph (16tph if additional turn-back facilities are added)
Infrastructure required: More trains and stabling. Duplication between Manly and Cleveland. Partial triplication or station overtaking tracks may ultimately be required to allow expresses to overtake all stations services, otherwise all peak services will need to be all stations (no expresses).

Triplicated Beenleigh Line, should have been quadruplicated!
Beenleigh/Gold Coast Lines
The Beenleigh and Gold Coast Lines currently run an irregular 6tph peak service on each line, 12tph total. The inbound Beenleigh Line services are slowed down at Bethania to allow Gold Coast services to overtake. The single track between Helensvale and Coomera currently limits the Gold Coast peak service from reaching a pre-CRR maximum of 8tph. Lack of off-line turn-back facilities for Beenleigh Line trains restricts an increase in short running services from Kuraby or Coopers Plains.

Off-peak services are also compromised by the lack of quadruplication, or turn-back facilities. Thus only 2tph can run on the Gold Coast Line, and 2tph to/from Beenleigh, and 2tph to/from Coopers Plains. Theoretically, the 2tph that turn-back at Coopers Plains could turn-back at Altandi with a shorter dwell time and decreased reliability. QR claim that post Coomera to Helensvale duplication more off-peak services could be operated, but BrizCommuter is not sure how this will be achieved without slowing down some Gold Coast services as they cannot overtake the Beenleigh Line services in both directions.

CRR would allow for significant increases in capacity on these lines, but only if there is significant extra track infrastructure to allow Gold Coast trains to reliably overtake Beenleigh Line trains with high-frequency services. A quadruplication will be required along most of the combined Gold Coast/Beenleigh Line corridor, which should have been partially addressed during the Salisbury to Kuraby triplication in 2008. A lot of money will need to be spent on this corridor due to the short sightedness of past governments!

Current peak capacity: 12tph
Max capacity pre or post-CRR with Coomera to Helensvale duplication: 14 to 16tph
Max capacity post-CRR with quadruplication and additional turn-back facilities: 24tph**
Infrastructure required: More trains. Quadruplication along parts of Beenleigh Line. Stabling at Clapham. Additional turn-back facilities at suitable locations.

Tennyson Line
Resuming services on the Tennyson Line would cause operational issues on other, busier lines. Whilst it was used by a reasonable amount of school traffic, the cost/benefit for re-opening this line is poor. BrizCommuter is thus assuming that this line will not re-open.

Springfield/Ipswich/Rosewood Lines

These lines currently run a combined 16tph in the am peak, and a lacklustre 10tph in the pm peak. Thus, given enough trains and crew, there is potential for 4tph increase in the am peak, and doubling of the pm peak frequency. With that in mind, it is likely that only "peak of the peak" services will be overcrowded until the early 2030s if existing infrastructure is used at it's maximum capacity.  At this point, a second underground rail tunnel will be required under Brisbane. The 4th track between Corinda and Darra should be electrified, with a 4th platform at Oxley, to allow for improved reliability.

Off-peak and counter-peak services are currently a terrible 2tph per line, with all stations services only. These could be improved to 4tph per line, with express Ipswich services. This would require sufficient trains (and crew), which seems to be re-occuring theme in this blog post!

Current peak capacity: 16tph
Max capacity pre or post-CRR: 20tph (24tph with ETCS)
Infrastructure required: More trains. Electrification of 4th track Corinda to Darra, and 4th platform at Oxley. Ultimately, a 2nd underground rail corridor in early 2030s.

New Lines
ULDC plans for the mythical Greater Flagstone Line (in red)

Greater Flagstone Line
This line would use the Brisbane to Sydney Line and serve Greenbank, the low-density urban sprawl new town of Greater Flagstone / Undullah, and possibly reach Bromelton near Beaudesert. There is zero capacity through the CBD for this line until CRR is opened. A grade separated junction would also be required at Salisbury, dual gauging would be required, and multiple duplicated sections to allow for at least a 4tph peak service. Full duplication would allow for an increased peak service. Depending on track layouts between Salisbury and the CRR portal, this line could run up to around 8 to 12tph.

Infrastructure required: More trains and stabling. Partial or complete duplication, dual gauging, new stations, grade separated junction at Salisbury, quadruplication Salisbury to CRR portal.

Ripley Valley Line
This extension to the Springfield Line, would increase the pressure on the Springfield Line. Maximum capacity would be 12tph with ETCS.

Infrastructure required: More trains and stabling. New line.

Caloundra Line
Infrastructure required: see Caboolture/Sunshine Coast/Kippa-Ring Line section.

Trouts Road Line
This line should be built as the northern route for CRR. This is essential to increase capacity for the Caboolture/Sunshine Coast/Kippa-Ring Lines as the Caboolture and Sunshine Coast services could be re-routed via this potentially faster line from Strathpine area to Brisbane's CBD. Local trains would significantly improve public transport options for many of Brisbane's northern suburbs. This line should be very high up the infrastructure priority list, and infrastructure would have to allow express services to overtake local all stations services. Up to 24tph could run along this line with ETCS.

Infrastructure required: see Caboolture/Sunshine Coast/Kippa-Ring Line section.

BrizCommuter has assumed the following:

  • 20tph max capacity on the 'mains' tracks through the CBD.
  • 24tph max (unreliable) capacity on the 'suburban' tracks through the CBD.
  • 24tph max (reliable) capacity post ETCS Level 2 implementation. 
  • Max capacity of 2 track dead-end termini is 12tph (arrival and departure every 5 minutes). 
  • Timetables will be based around even service patterns. 

  • Without CRR and additional duplications or quadruplications, significant long term improvements to peak capacity are restricted on the Ferny Grove, Doomben, Cleveland, Beenleigh, and Gold Coast Lines. 
  • The Greater Flagstone Line is not realistically possible without CRR.
  • Without CRR and the Trout's Rd Line, peak capacity cannot be significantly improved on the Caboolture/Sunshine Coast/Kippa-Ring Lines. 
  • CRR should be designed for Northern services to be routed along the Trouts Rd Line instead of the Exhibition Line and via Northgate. 
  • Pre-CRR Shorncliffe Line peak and off-peak capacity could be improved with a short duplication.  
  • Springfield/Ipswich/Rosewood Lines have some spare capacity, however CRR will not assist with improving this capacity. Ultimately, a second underground rail line may be required for this corridor. in the 2030s.  
  • For expansion of a reliable 4tph off-peak service, extra infrastructure is required on the Gold Coast/Beenleigh corridor, plus duplication of Cleveland and Shorncliffe Lines. 
  • Pre-CRR, more trains and crew, and ETCS are urgently required to maximise existing network capacity.
It is time for both federal and state governments to stop spinning, and start building! 

Sunday, February 14, 2016

QR to add oxygen masks on 3-car trains?

BrizCommuter has heard from an unreliable source, that QR may be installing oxygen masks on overcrowded "sardine can" 3-car unit trains on the Ferny Grove, Shorncliffe, and Cleveland Lines. These will allow standing commuters to still be able to breath whilst they are being packed in like sardines.

Commuters are asked to fit their own masks before helping other commuters nearby. There is enough oxygen for passengers to breath on journeys between Central to Mitchelton, Banyo, and Wynnum. Passengers having to stand further are requested to bring their own oxygen supply.

The masks will also automatically deploy to help distressed passengers whenever QR turn an all stations service into an express services which occurs often on the Cleveland Line. BrizCommuter's sources claim that the oxygen masks will not be installed in the Quiet Carriage, due to expected noise complaints for intolerant passengers.

The oxygen masks have recently become available as a major Australian airline has got rid of its safety equipment as part of cost saving measure. The ex-Boeing 737 life rafts may be sold to BCC, to be pulled along behind CityCats to increase capacity.

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

2016 Brisbane City Council Elections - Greens on the ball?

BrizCommuter is a slightly left of centre voter, who usually thinks that The Greens are bunch of hippie tree huggers. However, it appears that in the Brisbane City Council 2016 Elections, The Greens are the only party that haven't lost the plot. In fact, they have some very sensible public transport policies.

A quick recap on the LNP and ALP's policies:
  • The LNPs Lord Mayor Graham Quirk wants to re-build the inner Northern and SE Busway into a rubber-tyred metro system, which is has a long list of flaws. 
  • Graham Quirk and his LNP council were against the canned TransLink bus network review in 2013, and seem to be anti bus network reform.
  • Graham Quirk continued to lobby for the flawed Newman government BaT tunnel after it had been canned by the ALP, and a few years back SE Queensland Council of Mayors suggested the ludicrous Cleveland Solution, and Brisbane2Suburbs bus tunnel. 
  • The ALPs Rod Harding has suggested an unnecessary light rail (tram) line through Brisbane, of which plans are thin on the ground and un-costed. 
  • Rod Harding has also announced Free Fare Friday, which is flawed for a multitude of reasons, and is a smack in the face for his own party's (at state level) far review. 
So what have The Greens suggested?
  • Turning the Victoria Bridge into a Green Bridge, with 4 bus lanes, and a re-designed cultural centre busway stations designed to decrease bus congestion. This common sense policy is costed at just $40m. Policy here
  • Greens appear to support Cross River Rail. A no brainer policy!
  • Reducing fares to 2011 levels, which is costed at $60m - whilst BrizCommuter supports reduced fares, why should a council be subsiding public transport fare system that serves people beyond it's boundaries? BrizCommuter would prefer that this policy had been worded "lobby for fares at 2011 costs", as the ALP state government's fare review is underway.
The Green's mayoral candidate Ben Pennings has written an excellent rebuttal of Graham Quirk's metro idea, which BrizCommuter has copied and pasted below:
  1. In peak times, your proposal would force up to 400 busloads of people each hour to get off mostly full buses and get onto the Metro a few stops from the city. How much of the mooted time saving of 5½ minutes (from Woolloongabba) and 3½ minutes (from Herston) would be lost with this massive inconvenience for passengers? Do you know anywhere else in the world where this happens?
  2. Page 2 of the Final Report of the Lord Mayor’s Taskforce Brisbane Mass Transit Investigation states: “Of particular concern is the ability of light rail to use the existing Victoria Bridge. It is unlikely the bridge could be modified to accommodate the load of light rail vehicles, tracks and overhead line equipment. A new bridge adjacent to the existing Victoria Bridge would need to be constructed and would add significant construction cost and delay the implementation.” Has a full engineering analysis been done to ensure the Victoria Bridge is able to carry the weight of the Metro vehicles, track, power supply and associated equipment?
  3. Page 30 of Council’s own Suburbs 2 City: A Better Run for Buses pre-feasibility study report says, “Engineering investigations showed that a ramp of at least 100 metres would be required to connect the underground platforms and the green bridge to achieve the correct gradients. Any shorter and the tunnel would be too steep for buses to use safely and efficiently.” Has a full engineering analysis been done on the grade required for the proposed tunnel approaches? How far from the bridge will the underground Cultural Centre Station have to be to achieve the required gradient from 10 metres down?
  4. You’ve admitted council would borrow a “majority” of the $1.54 billion project. What is the exact amount of extra debt for Brisbane City Council?
  5. How do you plan to get grants from State and/or Federal Governments when no need or priority for any project like this appears in State or Federal planning documents?
  6. The proposed route does not take passengers within walking distance of much of the CBD, particularly north of Edward Street where most passengers want to go. How are you going to get commuters from the current.
  7.  underground bus stations to the rest of the CBD?
  8. Cross River Rail (normal rail) is by all accounts the most important infrastructure needed in Brisbane, if not Australia. Why don’t you focus council efforts in securing funding for this?
  9. The cardinal rule of infrastructure planning is first to use to maximum efficiency what you already have. Why would you spend $1.54 billion and disrupt passengers for years when the central problem can be solved for $40 million?
  10. Why on Earth would you spend $1.54 billion on public transport infrastructure and not include any new destinations?
Original link here

Ben Pennings has hit the nail on the head with the rebuttal and all policies, except for the council funding a fare reduction. BrizCommuter is thankful that at least one mayoral candidate appears to know what he is talking about when it comes to public transport. BrizCommuter might have to hug a tree to celebrate! 

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Inner City Rail Capacity Study - where are we now?

Screen shot from the study
Back in 2008, the Inner City Rail Capacity Study was published. This was commissioned by the Queensland Government, and written by a strategic advisor company called Systemwide. It looked at the state of the Queensland Rail network in Brisbane and SE Queensland, with recommendations on what infrastructure needed to be built to cope with the expected demands in train travel. In this blog post, BrizCommuter looks at what was recommended up until 2016, and what has actually occurred.

Off-peak services:
  • 2010: 15 minutes frequency to Ferny Grove, Darra, Manly, and Kuraby, and 7.5mins at Eagle Junction - DELAYED (to 2013), and FAIL for Kuraby.
  • 2015: 15 minutes frequency to Shorncliffe, Cleveland, Beenleigh, Robina, and Springfield - FAIL.
AM peak services in 2015:
  • Ferny Grove - 8tph instead of 11tph - FAIL.
  • Sunshine Coast/Caboolture - 9tph instead of 18tph - FAIL.
  • Petrie - 9tph instead of 10tph - FAIL.
  • Doomben/Shorncliffe/Airport - 10tph instead of 13tph - FAIL.
  • Cleveland/Manly - 8tph instead of 13tph - FAIL.
  • Beenleigh/Kuraby - 6tph instead of 9tph - FAIL.
  • Gold Coast - 6tph instead of 12tph - FAIL.
  • Springfield - 8tph instead of 6tph - PASS.
  • Ipswich/Rosewood - 8tph instead of 14tph - FAIL.
Cross River Rail:
  • New underground rail corridor to open by 2015 - EPIC FAIL - now in the planning stages for the 3rd time.
Rail infrastructure:
  • 2010: Duplication from Keperra to Ferny Grove - DELAYED (Opened in 2012).
  • Duplication between Sandgate and Shorncliffe is required to enable higher service levels to operate reliably - FAIL.
  • A second platform is required at Shorncliffe due to increased service levels - FAIL.
  • Stabling for services utilising the first new corridor could be located near Banyo - ALMOST (2016).
  • By 2015: duplication is required from Beerburrum to Beerwah/Landsborough for the Caloundra spur - FAIL.
  • 2015: Nambour - an additional platform and stabling are required by 2015 due to the 15- minute off-peak service pattern and increased service levels - FAIL (though stabling is under construction).
  • The Caloundra spur is introduced in 2015 - FAIL.
  • By 2012, duplication is required from Caboolture to Beerburrum - PASS (opened in 2009).
  • Stabling upgrades are required at Caboolture by 2010 for the intermediate off-peak service pattern - PASS (?)
  • A station and stabling upgrade is required by 2015 at Petrie for the 15-minute off-peak service pattern - ALMOST (2016 for Moreton Bay Rail Link.) 
  • By 2012, a third track is required between Lawnton and Petrie - DELAYED (2016 for Moreton Bay Rail Link).
  • A 5th track is required between Northgate and Bowen Hills by 2015, to allow overtaking of all stations services by Northern express services - FAIL.
  • By 2010, Thorneside requires stabling that can provide services to Manly and Cleveland - FAIL.
  • By 2010, duplication is required from Birkdale to Wellington Point and Ormiston to Cleveland - FAIL.
  • By 2012, a 3rd platform is required at Manly station - FAIL. 
  • By 2015, full duplication of the Cleveland Line is required to support the 15 minute off-peak service pattern - FAIL. 
  • By 2010, a grade separation is required at Park Road junction - FAIL.
  • A 4th track is required from Dutton Park/Fairfield to Banoon to support a 15 minute off-peak service pattern - FAIL.
  • Stabling is required at Clapham yard by 2015 for Northern services utilising the first new corridor - FAIL. 
  • By 2010, a 4th platform at Kuraby is required to allow Kuraby starters - FAIL. 
  • A 3rd track from Kuraby to Kingston is required in 2010 due to timetabing constraints in the inner city - FAIL. 
  • A 3rd track to from Kingston to Loganlea is required in 2012 - FAIL, 
  • A 3rd track is required from Loganlea to Bethania in 2014 - FAIL.
  • By 2015, a 3rd track is required from Bethania to Holmview - FAIL. 
  • New platform at Beenleigh or stabling re-arrangement - FAIL.
  • A stabling upgrade is required at Robina in 2010 - DELAYED (under construction).
  • A 4th track between Corinda and Darra is required to support Springfield services by 2015 - FAIL (there is a 4th track, but not electrified).
  • 3rd track between Corinda and Darra is required by 2010 - PASS.
  • A grade separation is required at Darra to support Springfield services by 2011, which was recommended as part of RSIRS - PASS (was built with grade separated junction). 
  • Full duplication of the Springfield spur is recommended by 2015 to support the 15- minute off-peak service pattern - PASS (was built dual track).
  • Redbank stabling requires an upgrade in 2015 - UNKNOWN
  • By 2015, additional stabling on the West of Ipswich and in Rosewood is required - ALMOST (opens in 2016).
Anything constructed that wasn't on the list?
  • Moreton Bay Rail Link - opens in 2016. 
As you can see, the vast majority of projects have not been realised, and many of these are not even on the drawing board. So what went wrong?
  • Fare increase - consecutive fare increases by both the ALP and LNP resulted the previously large growth in public transport use being stunted. Thus the demand has not increased as expected. Not surprisingly, roads have thus become more congested.  
  • Politics - with both state and federal, ALP and LNP government's unable to/unwilling to fund Cross River Rail and other rail infrastructure, Cross River Rail is still a long way off. 
  • More politics - rather than a bi-partisan approach, the Newman LNP government, canned Cross River Rail, replaced it with the flawed BaT tunnel, which then got canned by the Palaszczuk ALP government, who are now re-designing Cross River Rail again. All of this political football playing has only scored own-goals for Queensland. 
  • Brisbane City Council - rather than fully co-operating with Cross River Rail, Brisbane City Council keep coming up ludicrous alternatives such as the Cleveland Solution and now converting part of a busway into a metro. 
What is in store for the future?
  • Due to lack of rail infrastructure (and trains) Brisbane is now a very long way behind where it needs to be to cope with future growth and development. 
  • Without Cross River Rail and other network improvements there is limited capacity for improving services on existing lines including Gold Coast and Sunshine Coast to Brisbane, and building new lines to Greater Flagstone, Caloundra, Ripley, and along the Trout's Road corridor. 
  • Brisbane's reliance on a congested road transport will continue, with the pollution and road trauma that goes with it. Brisbane is at high risk of a transport meltdown if there is a significant rise is petrol, as could occur if there was a major war or political crisis in an oil producing region.   
  • Congestion on rail will continue to worsen (especially if there is not a significant increase in orders for the Next Generation Rollingstock). 
  • A dent in Brisbane's reputation (or continuation of its 'backwards' reputation) as rail projects in Sydney, Melbourne, Canberra, and Gold Coast appear to be on-track. Not good for business!
How can Brisbane's transport meltdown be resolved?
  • There needs to be bi-partisan support for Cross River Rail by both sides of Queensland politics in State Government and Brisbane City Council level. Rather than thinking about themselves, politicians need to think about Queenslanders.
  • Funding needs to be prioritised for rail over poor value for money road and busway projects. Remember, just one 60% full train can take around 500 cars off the road, that is 15 minutes worth of one traffic lane!  
  • The urban sprawl needs to be restricted, or at least be concentrated around existing transport corridors. 
BrizCommuter is extremely concerned about how far behind public transport infrastructure is in SE Queensland compared to where it needs to be. 

Sunday, February 7, 2016

Fare Free Friday?

Rather than assisting with the more sensible objectives of building Cross River Rail, and bus network reform, both Brisbane mayoral election candidates (Lord Mayor Graham Quirk and Rod Harding) have recently come out with ill-though out infrastructure plans. Just when you thought it couldn't get more silly, Labor's candidate Rod Harding has come out with another clanger - Fare Free Friday. This would allow free travel on Brisbane City Council buses, ferries, and CityCats on Friday, with go card users not touching on and off. Whilst it may win a few votes from the un-informed, here are reasons why it is a poor idea:

  • It makes a complete mockery of the Labor state governments ongoing fare review - BrizCommuter can see "panel of experts" face palming. 
  • Train passengers within Brisbane City Council area would still have to pay fares.
  • Confusion due to passengers not touching on and off only on certain modes of transport and certain bus operators (e.g. you would need to touch on and off a non-Brisbane Transport route 555 on the SE Busway, but not on a Brisbane Transport route 111 on the SE Busway).
  • Lack of go card data and thus travel statistics for the affected journeys. 
  • As passengers are in the habit of touching on and off, expect lots of fixed fares from touch ons but not offs, and no touch ons but touch offs. 
  • Issues with go card transfers as the bus segment of the journey would not be recorded. 
  • Would cause conflicts with the current "9 then free" go card cap (which for most users kicks in on Friday). 

Whilst BrizCommuter is no fan of Graham Quirk due to Brisbane City Councils' refusal to co-operate with TransLink's bus reforms, it seems that with policies like these, Rod Harding is climbing even higher up the hill of stupidity. His "fancy bus" tweets and comments when discussing rubber-tyred metros do not help his cause either.  This is more evidence that it is time for Brisbane City Council to be completely removed from anything to do with public transport.

Courier Mail article on Fare Free Friday:

Thursday, February 4, 2016

MyTransLInk & real time data

Screen shot of app store advert
It is not often that BrizCommuter writes a positive post, mainly due to there not being much positive about Brisbane's public transport system. However, BrizCommuter has been pleasantly surprised by the usefulness of the MyTransLink app, and the realtime information. The realtime information is based around the MyStops section of the app, where you can either select favourites, or use the map/search options to find a stop you happen to have ended up at the morning after.

So in what situations is the realtime information useful?

  • If you live near a bus stop, you only need to leave your house when the bus is a few minutes away, rather than standing around getting sunburnt waiting for a late bus. 
  • If have a choice of a few routes or stops nearby, you can check the stops (though not at the same time) to see which one will have a service first.
  • If you have a choice of a direct route, or changing, you can see whether direct bus is coming sooner - e.g.  taking a 66 from RBWH to Mater Hill, or take the next 330/333/340 then change in the CBD to a SE Busway service. 
  • You are in an area you are not used to and need to find the nearest stops and services. 
  • Seems to be more accurate than Queensland Rail's passenger information system, which is notorious for showing cancelled trains as 1 minute away. 
Where could things be better?
  • Inaccurate if a bus stop is early on in the bus route and the bus is late. This is due to the scheduled data appearing to be used until the departure time. Probably not much that can be done about it. 
  • Data in 'My Services' section could be updated in real-time.
As well as the real time data, the notifications are also useful. Though they are only as good as the information that TransLink provides (they always forget to inform passengers of Ferny Grove and Shorncliffe Line trains cancelled between Park Rd and Roma Street). 

To conclude, as long as you are tech savvy and have a good idea of possible routes from A to B, you can make great use of the MyTransLink app to get around the system faster.