Monday, August 28, 2017

LNP go Hyper Loopy

Artists impression of the LNP's transport policy
In yet another example of laughable/destructive public transport policies from the Queensland LNP, today opposition leader Tim Nicholls announced that the LNP would pledge $2.5m towards a business case for Very Fast Train's (VFT) running between the Gold Coast and Bundaberg. It seems that even the Hyperloop concept from Tesla Cars entrepreneur Elon Musk will be investigated as an option.

Despite this investigation into Very Fast Trains, it appears that the LNP are still very cold on Cross River Rail (CRR). This is despite CRR going through countless evaluation processes throughout the last decade to be the best transport solution for SE Queensland. Without CRR (and ETCS signalling), capacity cannot be increased across Brisbane's existing rail network, making new lines such as the Salisbury to Beaudesert corridor (Greater Flagstone), and increasing train services to the Gold and Sunshine Coasts impossible to implement. Also, without CRR, much of Brisbane's CBD including the Queens Wharf Casino and QUT Gardens Point are still a long way from train stations, and transport in Brisbane will grind a standstill. This will make Queensland much less attractive to businesses compared to Sydney, Melbourne, and Auckland that are all advancing with building new rail tunnels.

Does Tim Nicholls realise that:
  • For VFT's to run into Brisbane, that new train lines and transport corridors are required, a la Cross River Rail which he so despises? 
  • Due to acceleration and deceleration, that the time savings of VFT within 100km distance e.g. Brisbane to Gold and Sunshine Coats is barely worth the effort, especially given the linear nature of these conurbations requiring multiple stations? 
  • That Hyperloop is not in operation anywhere in the world, and that Queensland isn't too successful at project management recently? (NGR and MBRL, cough, cough)? 
  • That VFT from Brisbane to Bundaberg would cost approximately $100b (based on HS2 costs). 
  • That VFT requires a price premium, which many SE Queenslanders will not want to pay for (e.g. in Japan a similar distance journey on a Bullet Train will cost approximately double that of conventional rail)? 
  • That Brisbane to Bundaberg traffic would not sustain VFT in the slightest? 
If the LNP axe the urgently required CRR to instead investigate travelling at 1000kph in a drain pipe, then they will most definitely be Hyper Loopy! 

Thursday, August 24, 2017

CRR - ALP Release Business Case, LNP Clueless

The ALP Palaszczuk government has finally released the Cross River Rail (CRR) Mk3 Business Case. This can be downloaded here:
According the QLD state government, the key findings of the business case are:
  • For every $1 invested in the project it returns $1.41 to the people of Queensland.
  • The project will generate an average of 1500 jobs each year over the construction period, with a peak of 3000 in the most intensive year.
  • CRR will provide capacity for ‘turn-up-and-go’ services for South East Queenslanders.
  • CRR will help reduce pressure on the region’s roads, freeing them up for commercial vehicles and commuter buses.
  • It will enable greater integration of bus and rail services which will help to maximise the State Government’s rail network investments and Brisbane City Council’s investment in Brisbane Metro and improved bus services.
  • Total daily public transport trips (bus & rail) will climb from around 510,000 to more than 880,000 in 2026 and to more than 1.1 million by 2036.
The benefits of CRR include:
  • Higher public transport use, increase frequencies, reduced journey times, reduced crowding, increased network reliability.
  • Facilitate city building and urban growth.
  • Improve population and employment linkages.
  • Improve SEQ's economic potential.
  • Road de-congestion,
  • Supply chain improvements. 
Cross River Rail map
The benefit improvements are obviously welcome. However, there is still no detail on the additional costs for out of scope infrastructure, required to meet the projected service frequencies. Irrespective of this, the current ALP government are committed to funding CRR, with support from the LNP Brisbane City Council, and even road lobbyists RACQ. 

Unfortunately, the LNP Federal Government, and LNP state opposition just don't get it. The Tim Nicholls led state opposition still appear that they want to delay or axe CRR if they get into power. This is rather ironic given that they were so keen to proceed with the seriously flawed BaT Tunnel three years ago. Excuses are that patronage is not growing. As previously discussed in this blog, there is considerable latent demand for public transport in Brisbane, however it is being held back to due to fare increases by the previous ALP and LNP governments, and mediocre train frequencies due to lack of staff, trains, and willpower during the last decade. It appears that LNP do not have the interests of SE Queenslanders at heart, with their destructive transport policies only appealing to car manufacturers and oil companies. Sadly, due to the ALP governments lacklustre efforts in resolving the LNP induced QR Rail Fail increasing the likelihood of political annihilation, the future of CRR, and thus Brisbane being competitive for business in the future is in serious doubt.  

Sunday, August 13, 2017

BrizCommuter 2017 Caption Competition

It's competition time! BrizCommuter asks for amusing captions for the below photo of a cardboard cut-out of a Queensland Rail (QR) New Generation Rollingstock train. The winner gets to be stuck on a broken down Ferny Grove Line train for 3 hours whilst holding a full bladder.

To get you started here are a few caption ideas:
  • I know the disabled toilets are too small, but that small?
  • To get the NGR trains in service before the Commonwealth Games, requires passengers to build their own. 
  • The closest you'll get to riding on an NGR train in 2017. 
  • The 50% cheaper NGR trains ordered by the Newman government, was due to cardboard construction. 
Add captions using the comments section. If you work for Department of Transport and Main Roads, or QR, you can enter anonymously!

Friday, August 11, 2017

QR's 2017 Ekka Rail Fail

Ekka loop service - faster to walk!
From Oceana's worst train operator that brought you the diabolical Interim and 2017 Timetables, the inadequate Summer, Easter, and Winter School Holiday Timetables, comes yet another Rail Fail event. This time, due to lack of organisational competence and lack of train drivers, Queensland Rail (QR) have reduced the train services to the 2017 Ekka.

Despite adverts at train stations advertising 15 minute Exhibition Loop services, TransLink's journey planner tells a different story. The Exhibition Loop services will only be running every 20 minutes, even on the busy weekend days and People's Day on Wednesday. This is a 25% cut in Ekka train services compared to last year. Just to make things worse, there is also no sign in the journey planner of the many additional train services that were run to the Ekka, many of them being trains that usually terminate at Roma Street being extended to serve Exhibition station on the way to the depot (or vice versa). Thus it is likely that the final figure may be that more than 30% of Ekka services have been axed - unless of course TransLink's journey planner is hopelessly wrong. This is a disgrace, and will result in severe overcrowding on the first few trains of the day. BrizCommuter would strongly advise walking to the Ekka from Fortitude Valley and Bowen Hills stations, rather than travelling on one of QR's infrequent sardine cans, or relying on TransLink getting their journey planner to match actual services.

A quick inspection of the timetable, also shows a 17 minute gap between Ekka Loop trains arriving at Roma Street and departing. This would block platforms to other services, add conflicting moves, or cause mass go card confusion by using platform 10. So, BrizCommuter also doubts that this timetable can be reliably operated. It is likely that unfortunate passengers may experience a rather random service frequency.

If you think things can't get any worse, then look forward to reduced timetables in the Spring School Holiday, 2018 Summer School Holiday, Easter, around and during the Commonwealth Games, and so on until sometime in 2019 when QR may finally have enough drivers to operate the October 2016 timetable - only 3 years late!

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

QR's Rail Fail DB Review - Finds the bleeding obvious!

Screenshot from DB report.
Over 300 days after the start of Queensland Rail's (QR) Rail Fail, an independent investigation by consultants from Deutche Bahn (DB) has told Queensland Rail exactly what BrizCommuter has been saying for the last three quarters of a year. The main findings are:

  • The New Generation Rollingstock (NGR) project, also dubbed as Not Going Right, is a complete disaster with 140 technical issues at the time of the review. Whilst India is not renowned for it's manufacturing industry, it seems that a lot of the flaws are in the "Queenslander" specifications and design. 
  • That the 18 NGR trains required for the proposed Gold Coast 2018 Commonwealth Games (GC2018) is not likely to be achieved. 
  • That there are not enough train crew to operate the proposed timetable for the GC2018 - this will result in cuts to services on train lines other than the Gold Coast Line, which BrizCommuter has been warning about since November 2016. 
  • The geriatric EMU trains are becoming a reliability liability, adding to risks for GC2018. 
  • Fragmented IT systems, with high risk from cyber attack. 
  • That QR's customer service is good. Really? BrizCommuter assumes that DB didn't ask any passengers about this?
  • Risk in 40 year life cycle for SMU and IMU trains. Time to order more NGR trains?
  • High rate of overtime dependance. 
  • Fragmented organisational structure. 
  • General lack of trust and partnership between QR and TransLink/Department of Transport and Main Roads (TMR).
So what needs to happen?
  • Realistically, QR is a failed organisation that can probably only be fixed by privatisation with a train operator that knows what it is doing, such as DB or MTR. 
  • TMR's governance of public transport is a failure. There needs to be better governance of public transport in Queensland, maybe following Perth's example of governance with a public transport only body. 
  • DG TMR Neil Scales should be sent packing back to England. 
  • That the #GC2018railfail is inevitable, resulting in reduced services on lines other than the Gold Coast Line before, during, and after the Commonwealth Games. Politicians need to stop hiding the truth from the public. 
  • More NGR trains need to be ordered, once the design flaws are fixed. 
The DB Whole of Business Review of Queensland Rail report: