Wednesday, November 13, 2019

Preventing Cross River Rail Fail - Scorecard

Albert Street Station
Recent BrizCommuter posts have found serious concerns about a looming Cross River Rail Fail where the proposed am peak service frequencies after Cross River Rail (CRR) opens will not be achievable. BrizCommuter has decided to produce this score card, which will be updated on a regular basis showing the progress, or lack of progress towards achieving these goals. The proposed service frequencies are based on the information provided in the "Check Mate" section of CRR's website, which appears to be modified from the Changed Project Indicative Service Plan. Possible scores are No Improvement, Achievable, Concerning, and Critical.

Gold Coast Line 12tph - CONCERNING - requires the Kuraby to Beenleigh track upgrade (or slowing down of Gold Coast services). 8tph more likely.

Beenleigh Line 4-6tph - NO IMPROVEMENT

Salisbury (future Beaudesert) Line 7tph - CONCERNING - requires suitable turn back facilities at Salisbury and scheduling concerns i.e. interactions with other lines. Limited possibility of service improvements after Beaudesert Line opens due to the lack of a 4th track from Dutton Park to Salisbury.

Ipswich and Springfield Lines 12tph (each) - CONCERNING - requires European Train Control Signalling (ETCS) from Darra to CBD, and ideally 4th electrified track and platform through Oxley. Not dependant on CRR.

Ferny Grove Line 8tph - NO IMPROVEMENT - ETCS would improve reliability on core section.

Caboolture and Redcliffe Lines 12tph (each) - CONCERNING - requires ETCS from Petrie to CBD, and ideally improved track layout at Kippa-Ring. Not dependant on CRR. 4tph on Sunshine Coast Line.

Shorncliffe Line 6-8tph - CONCERNING - 6tph requires duplication between Sandgate and Shorncliffe (or complex timetabling with poor reliability). 8tph from Northgate to CBD is no improvement, and ETCS would improve core system reliability.

Airport Line 4tph - NO IMPROVEMENT - ETCS would improve reliability on core system.

Doomben Line 2tph - NO IMPROVEMENT - to not extend to Hamilton Northshore is a disgrace.

Cleveland Line 11tph - CONCERNING - 11tph from Manly to CBD would require a 3rd platform at Manly. No improvements proposed from Manly to Cleveland. Express services will probably be eliminated.

15 minute off-peak services - CONCERNING - off-peak service proposals are not even published by CRR, and running 4tph throughout the suburban network would be constrained by multiple infrastructure limitations including lack of 4th track on the Beenleigh Line corridor.

Sufficient Trains - CONCERNING - approximately 40 new trains are required to optimise peak services on the existing train network and for additional peak services for CRR. These have yet to be ordered.

Sufficient Train Crew - CONCERNING - sustained driver recruitment and forward planning is required.

Tunnel stubs for linking to future NWTC / Trouts Road Line - CRITICAL - not in current plans. To attach these tunnels would require a closure of CRR for many months.

To conclude, other than lines where there will no improvements from Cross River Rail, all other lines are currently in the CONCERNING category as they require either new track infrastructure that has not started construction, new signalling that has not been implemented, more trains that have yet to be ordered, and crew that have yet to be employed. CRR's opening may be 5 years away, but the clock is ticking. Many of these scores may change to CRITICAL if there is no action by this time next year.

Wednesday, November 6, 2019

Check Mate - Cross River Rail's BS-Ometer

Cross River Rail's (CRR) website has a section called Check Mate, that allows users to type in their postcode, suburb, or station, and see the benefits from Cross River Rail. Unfortunately, BrizCommuter has found that it is completely full of BS! Let's have a look at a few examples:
Alderley - no service improvements, yet less road congestion. How?
Alderley - the claimed benefits include trains every 7.5 minutes (8tph) in the morning peak on the Ferny Grove Line. That is the same as at present, and how it's been since 2014! So how will that "ease pressure on major roads" when there are no service improvements on this line? Connections to the 3 (not 5 as claimed) new CRR stations may add some more journey opportunities, but real world effects on traffic would be negligible. CRR have thrown in a mention of the Alderley to Strathpine Line (Trouts Road Line/North West Transportation Corridor), which isn't planned, funded, and would be better off running from Roma Street to Strathpine if it wasn't that CRR forget to build the tunnel stubs.

Holmview - trains every 15 minutes (4tph). That is also no improvement, and less than the 6tph claimed in CRR's proposal for 2026 services (as per the "Changed Project Indicative Service Plan" quoted throughout this article). There is a mention of the unfunded Kuraby to Beenleigh upgrade. No mention of off-peak improvements. 
Kippa-Ring - less trains than originally proposed
Kippa-Ring - trains every 5 minutes (12tph). That is less than the unachievable 16tph in CRR's proposal for 2026. This improvement would require improved ETCS signalling through Brisbane's CBD, and is not reliant on CRR. By looking at the stations between Petrie and Northgate, it looks like the Redcliffe Peninsula Lines will be all stations services (as at present) also changed from CRR's proposal for 2026. No mention of off-peak improvements. 
Cleveland - no improvements
Cleveland - trains every 15 minutes (4tph) as at present. That is no improvement, but strangely there is a dubious claim of an extra 450 seats (5tph) which would be difficult to achieve without duplication. There is a mention that CRR allows for the future duplication of the Cleveland Line. However, there is no reason other than lack of funding and willpower that the Cleveland Line cannot be duplicated before CRR opens. No mention of off-peak improvements. 
Manly - increase to trains every 5.5 minutes? How?
Manly - this is an interesting one. There is a claim of trains every 5.5 minutes (11tph) which is a slight increase from CRR's proposal for 2026. However with only 4tph being able to continue on the single line section to Cleveland, then 7tph would have to turnback at Manly. This is of course rather difficult with the current track layout at Manly where even the current turnback of 4tph is unreliable. So is an extra platform going to be added at Manly before CRR opens? Also, as this 11tph claim is also made for all inner-Cleveland Line stations, it looks like the Cleveland Line express services will be axed, slowing down journey times for many passengers. No mention of off-peak improvements (again). 
Shorncliffe - more trains, but again, how?
Shorncliffe - claims of trains every 10 minutes (6tph), up from the current 4tph. How will this be achieved without a duplication between Sandgate and Shorncliffe, which of course isn't mentioned, and isn't funded? No mention of off-peak improvements - see a trend here?
Springfield - more BS than the Simpsons Monorail?
Springfield and Ipswich - both of these lines are expected to have to increase to trains every 5 minutes (12tph) instead of the existing every 6 minutes service (which runs for slightly less than an hour in the am peak). As these lines are not directly relieved by CRR, this is solely down to ETCS signalling improvements through Brisbane's CBD. Claims that CRR creates the capacity for an extension to Ripley is completely false. No mention of off-peak improvements yet again.

Doomben - no services improvements, with continuation of the infrequent 30 minute weekday service. Despite this lack of service improvement, there is a highly dubious claim of less traffic pressure on Kingsford Smith Drive. There is also a claim of more reliable train services, which is also debatable as there appear to be no plans for reducing the number of train services running on the suburban tracks through Brisbane's CBD (static at 22tph). There should be an extension to Northshore Hamilton, but would be far too "smart" for Queensland. 

To conclude, the benefit claims made on CRR's website score very highly on the BS-ometer. Observations include:
  • Service improvements from improved ETCS signalling are being falsely attributed to CRR.
  • False claims of less traffic congestion near train lines that will have no train service improvements (such as Ferny Grove and Doomben Line).
  • Claims of service improvements (such as more inner-Cleveland Line and Shorncliffe Line services) that require infrastructure that is currently un-funded, and in some cases may not even have be proposed. 
  • No mention of off-peak service improvements. 
There are so many misleading claims that it appears that CRR are trying their hardest to make the current half-baked version of CRR appear to have benefits that it doesn't have. No wonder the business case has been hidden from public eye. The only realistic improvements that can now be directly attributed to CRR is 6tph of additional peak services on the Gold Coast Line, and even that might not be achievable without infrastructure upgrades on the Beenleigh Line corridor. Well worth more than $5b don't you think? It is very sad that consecutive governments from both sides of QLD politics have squandered the benefits of CRR via ill-thought out cost cutting re-designs.