Tuesday, February 14, 2017

NGR - 1 Year and Not in Service!

NGR #701 being delivered in February 2016
When commuters were inflicted with overcrowded 3-car services in the January 2014 timetable, Queensland Rail (QR) informed commuters via social media that the New Generation Rollingstock (NGR) would be running by late 2015 to relieve their woes. Unfortunately the first Indian build NGR train didn't arrive in Queensland until 18th February 2016. A whole year later in February 2017, and despite 8 more NGR trains having been delivered, the NGR units have been mainly hiding in their train shed at Wulkuraka, near Ipswich. The NGR trains have still not introduced into service after 1 year of being in the Banana State, and there is still little sign of them being introduced into services. So why are the NGRs delayed? Well, the usual "Queenslander" lack of transparency makes it difficult to know the exact truth, but based on limited press information, informed sources, and potty mouth "Rail Advocate" Paul Pluta, the reasons cited are:
  • Guard accommodation and location. It is strongly rumoured that the LNP Newman government wanted to NGR to be driver only, and thus the guard accommodation was only an afterthought. Also, the guards being located at the back of the 6-car NGR trains, and disabled passengers waiting locations being in the middle of the 6-car NGR trains is slight problem, that is not going to end happily
  • Driver cab design. It is rumoured that drivers and/or unions were not properly involved by the LNP Newman government and "boy wonder" (now opposition) Transport Minister Scott Emerson. There have been issues related to sight lines, stopping locations, and ergonomics. 
  • Lack of drivers for testing. 
  • Changes to the braking system. 
  • Late arrival of the first few units. 
  • NGR project being managed by Department of Transport and Main Roads, not Queensland Rail.
  • Various other "teething issues". Not surprising given that India isn't exactly renowned for it's train manufacturing industry. 
BrizCommuter is also concerned about rumours that if there are delays to NGR's introduction, then the Queensland taxpayer will have to fork out millions of $$$ to manufacturer Bombardier due to contractual reasons.  So not only are commuters suffering from the now 18 month (and counting) delayed NGR trains, that all Queensland taxpayers may end up suffering as well. This is likely to be yet another embarrassment for the ALP Palaszczuk government after Rail Fail, despite many of seeds of disaster being (yet again) sown by the ousted LNP Newman government.

PS: Not enough NGR trains have been ordered. You might want to order a few more Ms Trad!


  1. "India isn't exactly renowned for it's train manufacturing industry"

    The Indian Railways actually have six manufacturing plants churning out locomotives, electric multiple units, passenger carriages and freight wagons for domestic use:


    Their products aren't exactly modern looking compared to rolling stock seen elsewhere, but they seem to do the job given how important the railways are for India.

  2. And again... everyone is forgetting the NGR shed that is operational. QR and Translink told us all about it - a big long wonderful story. Why does everyone forget about the shed an focus on the trivial trains? Not even QR and Translink bother about stories on NGR trains any more.

  3. Or, Ms Trad needs to start ordering many more IMU's.

    1. The production run for IMUs finished years ago. It would be too costly to re-start to build additional train. If only the Bligh government had ordered the extra IMU/SMU units as advised by QR, then we would be in less of a pickle.

    2. Not really, production is soon to restart on the very similar B-series for perth.

  4. There are so many problems here and there is always more than 1 root cause with QLD Rail.

    Problem: Not enough trains.
    - As QLD is the only state running majority narrow gauge (a very narrow gauge), trains must be made to order for Queensland (other factors such as tunnels also affect compatible trains).
    - Network design is at capacity (cross river rail discussions for decades to address this)
    - Trains are aging - the youngest is 6 years old meaning the trains break down frequently (many 30 or so year's old)
    - Rail network is unreliable - Major outages multiple times per week with flow-on effects that last hours. NOTE - not just "old and breaking" systems, but infrastructure that is particularly susceptible to delays due to crossing issues, bridge strike issues, police issues at stations, weather issues and so on.
    - Not enough IMU trains were ordered for predicted (and now actual) population.
    - QLD has a history of poor processes resulting in building trains that don't fit through tunnels and trains that are not fit for purpose (NGR).
    - Not enough drivers.

    Problem: Low seating capacity. Sydney A set 896 seats per train, QLD NGR 454 seats.
    - Number of seats limited by thin trains due to narrow gauge
    - Number of seats limited by low trains due to both narrow gauge and low tunnels (no split level trains are possible).
    - Station length is a limiting factor for the length of train.

    This is just a few of the problems, and a small number of causes.

    The result is that we have a bespoke rail system that is not fit for purpose. In my opinion we need to do need to re-think rail from the ground up.

  5. I see a lot of blame being pushed around instead of trying to problem-solve things. At the rate that things are going, it might be better to just shelve all of these transport plans and put them into storage and use the money they're spending on this to improve the roads and existing network instead.

    1. That might sound sensible but every study done has shown investment in roads makes transport worse (slower travel times across all forms of transport). I know it is counter-intuitive, but that's what history has taught us. I agree though - it is easy to blame and it's very easy for keyboard warriors to say a lot without helping at all. What power do we have? Even your suggestions are a form of blame - that current approaches are failing and the government has the wrong transport funding approach. That's not solving the problem.

      To solve a problem you need to address the problem, find the cause of the problem and then correct the problem. That is:
      - Identify the results of the problem and address those issues. Right now the result of the problem detailed well throughout this blog. QR and the government are scrambling to fix Rail Fail.
      - Identify the root causes of the problems and address those root causes. Right now the root causes of the problem are detailed well throughout this blog. The government is turning a blind eye where possible, refusing Right To Information and passing the buck where possible.
      - Determine the most practical direction for the future. Right now practical direction is detailed well throughout this blog. Various decisions by governments and QR are last-minute (Transline phase 2 - major f-up), indecisive (CRR), or ill-conceived (NGR, Union agreements, fare systems).

      So the only thing not covered by this blog is the "doing" and that's up to QR, Translink, LGAs and the State and Federal Government. Since we will never have the power to "take action", our problem solving is limited to every other aspect of problem solving. Call it blaming, call it keyboard warrior or whatever else, it's all we can do.


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