Whilst the final results are still being counted in the 2017 Queensland Election, it looks highly likely that ALP leader Annastacia Palaszczuk will form a majority or minority government. This is excellent news for Cross River Rail (CRR), as the out of touch LNP and PHON wanted to axe it. In fact, the LNP has had quite a significant swing against it in SE Queensland. It is quite likely that their bizarre dislike of CRR played a part in that swing. Why would small and big business owners support an LNP policy that would harm Brisbane's economy and quality of living, and increase congestion?
Scott Emerson is Gone
As part of that swing against the LNP, former Transport Minister under the Newman Government - Scott Emerson has lost his seat. Whilst being interviewed on TV, he seemed to blame the loss on everything but himself and LNP policies. Scott Emerson oversaw the driver freeze at Queensland Rail which resulted in #RailFail, the purchase of the disastrous NGR train project, and didn't have enough balls for drive bus network reform past Brisbane Council Council. Scott Emerson was thus quite possibly the worst Transport Minister in Queensland ever (note: that removal of trams in the 1960s was a Brisbane City Council decision). BrizCommuter says good riddance. Maybe cleaning tables at Taco Bell would be a better career prospect, though Mr Emerson would probably just blame the messy tables on the ALP?
As the 2017 Queensland Election campaign rolls along, it is becoming more apparent that the Tim Nicholls led LNP will axe Cross River Rail if they win the election. This is despite the Newman LNP government supporting the BaT tunnel on the same route just 3 years earlier. Instead the LNP are promising a study (yes, just a study) into vapourware (i.e. non-existent) fast transport options such as Hyperloop. The LNP will almost definitely have to partner with Pauline Hanson's One Nation (PHON) to form a government, and PHON have already made it clear that they have no interest in CRR. If the LNP and PHON get there way, these will be consequences of their bad decisions:
No 50% increase in rail capacity through Brisbane's CBD.
No 50% increase in Gold Coast Line services.
No 25% increase in Cleveland Line services.
No 50% increase in outer Beenleigh Line services.
No capacity for Salisbury to Beaudesert Line services.
No 100% increase, and express services on the Redcliffe Peninsula Line.
No improvements in journey times from the Gold Coast to Brisbane's CBD.
No station as part of Roma Street redevelopments (Entertainment Centre).
No capability for building the Trouts Road Line to massively increase services on the Sunshine Coast Line and serve North West Brisbane suburbs for the first time by rail.
No improvements in train network resilience and reliability across QR's train network.
No train service to the Southern end of Brisbane's CBD and Wooloongabba.
Will limit off-peak frequency across QR's train network.
Will increase road congestion.
Will result in Brisbane loosing out on business to more progressive cities which are building rail tunnels such as Auckland, Sydney, and Melbourne.
Will severely damage Brisbane's reputation as a "New World City".
Business groups and even the RACQ are fully supportive of Cross River Rail. For Tim Nicholls and the LNP to continue being anti-CRR, shows how out of touch he is with 21st century transport policy. Axing CRR would prevent improvements to public transport from suburbs that are in LNP electorates - go figure! A vote against CRR, will cause transport meltdown in SE Queensland, and make Brisbane look even more backwards on the world stage.
After significant SE Queensland rail patronage increases in the mid 2000s, patronage has declined significantly in recent years. This is being used by the LNP as an excuse to axe Brisbane's Cross River Rail (yet again). There is huge latent demand for rail transport, but unfortunately this patronage is being stifled for the following reasons:
I would catch the train if the pm peak frequency wasn't half of the am peak frequency.
I would catch the train if the off-peak frequency wasn't so poor.
I would catch the train if I didn't have to travel on overcrowded 3-car trains.
I would catch the train if it wasn't for the axed train services due to Rail Fail.
I would catch the train if Fridays had the same timetable as Monday to Thursday.
I would catch the train if night time services didn't keep being replaced by buses.
I would catch the train if my services didn't keep getting cancelled or expressed past my station.
I would catch the train if weekend services were sometimes not hourly.
I would catch the train if it wasn't cheaper to drive.
I would catch the train if I could salary sacrifice the fare.
I would catch the train if the station car park didn't reach capacity at 6:50am.
I would catch the train if there was a frequent bus service to the station.
I would catch the train if the last connecting bus service ran after 5pm.
I would catch the train if the air conditioning wasn't too hot/cold.
I would catch the train if they weren't filthy cess pits.
Unfortunately, most of the above are due to failed public transport policy by successive governments on both sides of politics (and in a few cases Brisbane City Council and TransLink incompetence). The biggest causes of patronage decline is poor frequency and overcrowded train services due to chronic lack of trains and drivers. The #RailFail lack of drivers won't be resolved until at least 2019. As not enough NGR trains have been ordered to maximise use of the current network, lack of trains will again be an issue by the early 2020s. Fare policy is a other huge issue, with a clear link between successive 15% fare increases and patronage decline. Lesser issues include the removal of cleaners at termini under the Newman government, and lack of station car parking.
There is huge latent demand for public transport in Brisbane, all it requires is for QR to run a frequent train service that the population of SE Queensland deserves (as per Perth, Sydney, and Melbourne). Of course, governments may be purposefully stifling demand for public transport to avoid having to build more rail infrastructure such as Cross River Rail, and Salisbury to Beaudesert Line. If Queensland governments continue to ignore public transport, then Brisbane will struggle to attract business as it descends further into car-centric transport failure.