Sunday, October 29, 2017

Sunshine Coast Line Duplication - Reality Check

Add - Beware of Politicians! 
With the 2017 Queensland State Election campaign underway, there will be a few political footballs that involve public transport. The most critical is Cross River Rail (CRR), which is vital for increasing rail capacity through Brisbane's CBD by approximately 50% allowing for more services to run through Brisbane to/from the suburbs, and allows for passenger services on the Salisbury to Beaudesert Line. However, the project most likely to receive bi-partisan political support (at least until the day after the election) will be the duplication of the Sunshine Coast from from Beerburrum to Landsborough, or even Nambour. However, anyone who thinks that this is going to be problem solver for peak period passenger services to the Sunshine Coast, needs a reality check. These are the facts:
  • Current am peak service from the Sunshine Coast is approximately 3 trains per hour in the peak direction (tph), with 9 tph running through to Brisbane from Caboolture. These services share tracks with the Redcliffe Peninsula Line from Northgate through the CBD, running at 18tph, out of the maximum 20tph capacity. 
  • Proposed ETCS signalling will allow approximately 24tph reliably. This is only a 20% increase in track capacity to be shared between the Sunshine Coast Line, Caboolture Line, and Redcliffe Peninsula Line. 
  • Due to the limited spare track capacity between Northgate and Brisbane's CBD, there is little potential for increasing train services. Even with a duplication, the Sunshine Coast Line may just see 1 or 2 extra tph in the am peak. There would however be significant potential for increasing the current inadequate off-peak services. 
  • The only way of significantly increasing peak train services to/from the Sunshine Coast is to construct the "barely on the political radar" Trouts Rd Line / North Eastern Transportation Corridor, which would connect with CRR just North of Roma Street. This would cost in excess of $2b. 
  • Thus unless political parties support both CRR and the Trouts Rd Line, then duplicating the Sunshine Coast Line will have little benefit for increasing peak train services to/from the Sunshine Coast. The LNP and One Nation appear to be anti-CRR, and no political parties are makings series effort towards building the Trouts Rd Line. An LNP MP has been quoted as wanting to build a road along the North Eastern Transportation Corridor instead of a train line. 
  • The Sunshine Coast Line services a few hinterland villages and small town (Nambour). Whilst duplicating the line would have benefit for freight services, a better solution for passengers would be to construct the long planned CAMCOS Line from Beerwah to Caloundra and Maroochydore. 
It can be concluded that duplication the Sunshine Coast Line will have benefits for improving reliability, rail freight and off-peak passenger services. However, for any significant peak period service improvements, the Trouts Rd Line and Cross River Rail will be required. Without these two projects, the Sunshine Coast Line duplication may be a white elephant. To better service the larger population centres on the Sunshine Coast, will require the construction of CAMCOS to Caloundra and Maroochydore. Brave politicians will need to spend big to solve SE Queensland's transport woes, and allow SE Queensland to support growth and attract business to the benefit of Queensland's economy. 

Thursday, October 12, 2017

NGR Fail - 600 Days and Questions for Mr Nicholls

NGR - 600 Days and Not in Service
Today was the 600th day anniversary of the first of the New Generation Rollingstock (NGR) trains arriving in Queensland. Due to a project failure of epic proportions, these trains are still not in passenger service. The NGR trains were ordered under the one-term LNP Newman government, who also laid the foundations for Rail Fail by ordering a recruitment freeze ahead of the implementation of 15 minute off-peak services and the Redcliffe Peninsula Line. It is well known the NGR trains were ordered without guard accommodation, as the intention was for the trains to be Driver Only Operated (DOO). This was a polar opposite of the EBA that was in place for train crew. So how were the LNP Government going to get around this? It is also well known that QR has limited involvement with the design of the NGR trains. Well it seems that there are a few questions for current QLD LNP opposition leader Mr Tim Nicholls MP to answer:

  • Were the LNP planning on the NGR trains to be run by a private company?
  • Was this private company going to use DOO trains on the QR network?
  • Was this private company going to poach train drivers from the already understaffed QR?
  • Was the recruitment freeze a plan to setup QR to fail?
  • Why was the NGR business case not released? 
  • Are public servants too scared to speak up about the LNP's secret plans, as they could loose their jobs if the LNP got back in power?
  • Why were the disabled toilets in the NGR trains designed to not meet legal requirements?
BrizCommuter has run many a blog post about the LNP's other destructive public transport policies, such as axing Cross River Rail for the ill-thought out BaT Tunnel which has set back CRR by over half a decade (or even permanently if the LNP get back in power). There is no question that QR had serious internal issues irrespective of the government in power, and that the ALP Palaszczuk have done a half-arsed job with Rail Fail service recovery thanks to Union pressure. In fact, BrizCommuter is not adverse to QR Citytrain being privatised, but it needs to be done by honest and transparent methods. However, if it appears that the LNP were planning on privatising QR by stealth, by getting a private company to run the NGR trains with different safety rules and staff agreements, then it appears that the LNP cannot be trusted with public transport. 

If the LNP get back in power before the Gold Coast 2018 Commonwealth Games, then they will have egg on their face when services have to be axed to lack of NGR trains and drivers. With the LNP being more concerned with privatising train services than improving train services, expect the pain of the Rail Fail to continue well into the next decade if they win the next Queensland state election.