Saturday, February 20, 2021

Ferny Grove Line - the consequences of irregular timetables

Whilst Queensland Rail's (QR) 2014 train timetable changes were generally an improvement, the timetables introduced uneven or irregular timetable scheduling to some lines, notably the Gold Coast, Beenleigh, and Ferny Grove Lines. The irregular (approx. 7.5mins, 7.5mins, then 15mins) service on the Gold Coast and Beenleigh Lines is presumably due to train turnbacks at Kuraby blocking the track, and probably won't be resolved until a 3rd track and platform is built at Loganlea. However, the Ferny Grove Line is a different story. The am peak has a decent and regular 8tph service approximately every 7.5mins (7/8 mins on the published timetable) resulting in fairly even loadings apart from "peak of the peak" services. Unfortunately, the pm peak has a 6tph irregular (approx. 7.5mins, 7.5mins, then 15mins) service throughout most of the pm peak period.

Irregular services = irregular loading

As you can see on TransLink's capacity planner, this irregular timetable results in huge variations between loading on different services. Pre-COVID the situation was worse, with the services after the 15 minute gaps often being overcrowded, especially the "Sardine Can" 5:26pm from Central to Ferny Grove. With passengers currently being more sensitive to overcrowded train services, and 15 minute peak gaps in services being unacceptable anyway, the Ferny Grove Line's pm peak service is a deterrent to using public transport. It is no surprise that Samford Road, which parallels the Ferny Grove Line is heavily congested in the pm peak when the train service is not frequent enough. Just one half full train can remove 15 minutes worth of traffic from a road lane!

Samford Road pm peak congestion

Additionally only 2/3 of the Ferny Grove Line's pm peak services are scheduled to run through South Bank, causing contra-peak services gaps of up to 13 minutes through Park Road, South Bank, and South Brisbane stations to Roma Street. Yet again, this is a deterrent to using public transport.

After the 2014 timetable changes, commuters were told that some of these gaps would be filled in. Yet, 7 years later, there have been zero additional pm peak services on the Ferny Grove Line, despite the 5:26pm service being one of the most overcrowded train services on the QR CityTrain network. BrizCommuter calls on QR and TransLink to fill in the 15 minute gaps on the Ferny Grove Line's pm peak timetable, so that it has an even 8tph service that matches the am peak.

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