Thursday, October 4, 2018

Queensland Rail - The End is Nigh!

It has recently been announced that at the last minute,  $3.6m worth of bonuses was stopped from being paid to senior Queensland Rail (QR) managers by the Queensland Government. How on earth QR's Board (update: some of whom have now resigned) could think that bonuses were appropriate is beyond anyone who actually has to suffer from using QR's mediocre rail service. It is also concerning that this wasn't picked up early by Transport Minister Mark Bailey - maybe he wasn't checking the right emails? So why shouldn't QR's managers get bonuses?
  • 2 years after the start of Rail Fail (#RailFail), QR's CityTrain network is still running on interim reduced timetables, with further service reductions on Fridays, and no end in sight. 
  • QR's recruitment and training process for new drivers is agonisingly slow.
  • QR have failed to control the RTBU, who appear to be running the show. The RTBU's opposition towards external driver recruitment and a closed shop mentality has hit Rail Fail recovery hard. 
  • There is allegedly poor moral amongst train crew, in particular due to ongoing overtime requirements. 
  • On-time running stats are misleading, as they don't show unscheduled expressed services, off-peak services, or services removed due to Rail Fail. 
  • Communication from staff at times of delays is still poor to mediocre. 
Other things wrong with SE Queensland's rail network, that also have successive state governments, and the Department of Transport and Main Roads (TMR) to blame are:
  • The disastrous New Generation Rollingstock (NGR) project - "illegal" trains that don't meet disability accessibility requirements, door problems, and a "who knows when" fix for these issues. 
  • Due to the NGR project delays, the geriatric EMU trains are failing regularly, causing delays and rollingstock availability problems, including chronic overcrowded 3-car trains. 
  • Inadequate base timetables - even the never delivered October 2016 timetables are inadequate compared to Perth, Sydney, and Melbourne - with 15 minute peak gaps on many lines, limited 15 minute off-peak coverage, and abysmal Cleveland Line pm peak service. 
  • Inadequate rail feeder bus network and park and rides. 
  • The looming Cross River Rail Fail - unless 40+ more trains are purchased soon, driver recruitment is ramped up, and multiple "bottleneck" infrastructure projects are completed. 
  • Farcical situation caused by the guard being at the back of NGR trains, disability access being in the middle of the train, and half-arsed platform raising being in the middle of the train. 
  • Lack of Automatic Train Protection across most  of QR's CityTrain network - this means that getting rid of guards for more efficiency is a big problem. 
  • Inland QR long distance services are extremely poor value for money for the taxpayer.  
  • Lack of periodical (e.g. weekly) capping options on the go-card is a deterrent to weekend public transport use. 
Until Brisbane and SE Queensland has a train service as frequent and reliable as other major Australian capital cities, there is no way that anyone in QR or TMR should be paid a bonus. With QR's failures and poor efficiency, it should even be questioned as to why QR should not be privatised.  BrizCommuter will not be surprised if this happens within minutes of the LNP next gaining power in Queensland.