Thursday, July 28, 2016

System Meltdown (Again)

Not a good day QR?
On Wednesday 27th July 2016, Brisbane suffered yet another Queensland Rail (QR) system meltdown highlighting many issues:
  • A "signal failure" at Bowen Hills caused all trains to have to run via one track pair through the CBD instead of two during the am peak. 
  • The result of having to send 40 trains per hour (tph) per direction down a track that can only handle 24 tph, meant that trains were soon queueing down the track, and delays reached 30 minutes. 
  • A Brisbane to Ipswich train was cancelled, resulting in a hour long gap between services during the am peak. 
  • Some trains from Caboolture were routed via the Ekka Loop, bypassing 3 core stations including Central, pissing off rather a lot of passengers! 
  • Severe overcrowding experienced on many train services. 
  • No information was reported given to passengers waiting at stations that there were would be delays. 
  • Information was only given on-board BrizCommuter's train after the last opportunity to change onto a high frequency bus route. The diverted Caboolture Line train passenger were not informed until the train had been diverted! 
  • Delays were being quoted as only being 10 minutes, when some trains were delayed 30 minutes (BrizCommuter's train was 21 minutes late through the CBD). Some claims on Facebook are of hour long delays. 
  • It took until early afternoon for the system to fully recover.
  • Unlike London where passengers are re-imbursed for delays of more than 15 minutes, there is no refund for delayed passengers in Brisbane.
  • BrizCommuter has heard reports of surgery and clinics being delayed in one Brisbane hospital due to large numbers of staff arriving late. The delays would probably have affected many businesses, and many workers lost out on wages.
Not going anywhere at Fortitude Valley
So what can Brisbane learn from this meltdown?
  • The urgently needed Cross River Rail (CRR) would provide for more system redundancy and resilience compared to current situation of all trains services running through the same core network. The ongoing failure of CRR is embarrassing when Melbourne and Sydney's new rail tunnels are full steam ahead. 
  • Improved signalling is required to not only increase timetabled service frequencies, but also increase absolute maximum capacity when issues arise. 
  • There needs to be higher frequency counter-peak services (e.g. from Brisbane to Ipswich and Springfield in the am peak).
  • There needs to be better operational handling so that counter-peak services are not cancelled. 
  • Core network delays need to be relayed to passengers at train stations before they board. 
  • Core network delays need to be relayed to passengers before interchange points, as in London and other cities, so that alternative routes can be used. 
  • Delay times communicated to passengers need to be more realistic. 
  • Passengers should be re-imbursed automatically via the go card system for these delays.
Step up your act QR and TransLink! 


  1. higher frequency counter-peak services <-- won't happen
    network delays need to be relayed to passengers <- too hard
    brisbane tries hard at being a city

  2. They need to have 6 tracks between Roma Street and Bowen Hills (3 track pairs) with the network expanding and all. I might even add 4 tracks between Roma Street and Park Road (although that may be difficult considering Merivale Bridge) And this signal failure was probably one of Queensland Rail's 80000


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