Saturday, June 12, 2021

Brisbane 2032 Olympics - More Public Transport Required

The 2032 Olympics will be very spread out
It is looking like the 2032 Olympics is within Brisbane's reach. With Brisbane's public transport network lagging behind many other other Australian cities, BrizCommuter was rather hoping that the 2032 Olympics would finally bring a fantastic ongoing public transport legacy to SE Queensland. Sadly it is looking like the public transport legacy may be non-existent.

The current plans are here:

What transport improvements are planned?

  • Brisbane Metro - this Bus Rapid Transit "Not a Metro" system is already under construction, with the Grey St/Melbourne St intersection grade-separation sadly dropped.
  • Cross River Rail - already under construction, with limited system-wide benefits due to poor network integration.
  • G:Link phase 3 - already under construction.
  • Eastern Transitway - read "bus lanes". 
  • Beerburrum to Nambour duplication - the only pleasant surprise here.
  • Coomera Connector - another road upgrade to make up for lacking public transport.
  • M1 upgrades - another road upgrade to make up for lacking public transport.
  • Bruce Highway upgrade - another road upgrade to make up for lacking public transport.

So despite there being "zero car access" to venues, many of the stated public transport infrastructure improvements are road upgrades that parallel inadequate public transport corridors (Sunshine Coast and Gold Coast railway lines). Based on the above information, it looks like the 2032 Olympics could suffer from:

  • Heavy reliance on buses for venue access, which was disastrous at times during the 2018 Commonwealth Games, with waits of up to 2 hours after events. 
  • A repeat (from the 2018 Commonwealth Games) of the Beenleigh Line, and additionally inner-Caboolture/Redcliffe Line services being axed to allow for fast Brisbane to Gold Coast and Brisbane to Sunshine Coast services.
  • A repeat (from the 2018 Commonwealth Games) of many suburban train lines having a reduced train service to allow for frequency increases on other parts of the network due to lack of trains and drivers.
  • Inadequate train frequencies, or even no heavy rail access to/from Olympic Zones, venues, and Olympic villages.
  • Some Olympic venues and villages are a very long distance from high frequency public transport.

So what additional public transport projects are required, that would enable an efficient and environmentally responsible Olympics, as well having a useful ongoing legacy for SE Queensland commuters?

High priority requirements:

  • Beenleigh/Gold Coast Train Line Upgrade - track amplifications to allow for a >8tph bi-directional train service between Brisbane and the Gold Coast, without having the axe the Beenleigh Line service. This would have an important ongoing legacy in connecting Brisbane to the Gold Coast.
  • North West Transportation Corridor Train Line - this would allow for a >8tph bi-directional train service between Brisbane and the Sunshine Coast, without having to axe inner Caboolture/Redcliffe Line services. This would have an ongoing legacy for fast Brisbane to Sunshine Coast rail, plus adding multiple new train stations in Brisbane Northern suburbs.
  • Salisbury to Beaudesert Train Line - this already proposed line, enabled by Cross River Rail would allow for up to 6tph (limited by the Dutton Park to Salisbury 3 track section) to run to/from Beaudesert for bus connections to the Wyralong venue and Kooralbyn Olympic Village. 
  • Doomben Line Extension to Hamilton Northshore - this would allow for a train service to the Olympic Village, and on-going benefits of a 4tph service.
  • Cleveland Line Duplication - this much required duplication would allow for higher frequency train services to access events in Manly, plus bus connections to Redlands Whitewater Centre.
  • Sunshine Coast Line to Maroochydore - this much needed line would allow for a train service serving the Sunshine Coast Olympic Zone, and huge ongoing benefits of fast rail between Brisbane and the Sunshine Coast.  
  • Level Crossing Removals - a significant number of level crossing upgrades are required to support public transport frequencies required for the 2032 Olympics and ongoing public transport. 
  • More Trains and Drivers - there needs to be enough trains and drivers to operate both enhanced Olympic train services, as well as maintain the frequency of connecting train services throughout SE Queensland.

Lower priority requirements: 

  • Gold Coast Line Extension to Gold Coast Airport
  • G:Link Extension to Gold Coast Airport and Coolangatta
  • Regional Rail between Brisbane and Toowoomba

 The 2032 Olympics is a fantastic opportunity to transform SE Queensland with an improved public transport legacy. The current plans are the polar opposite. Failure to deliver, will cause transport woes and car reliance for decades to come.

Saturday, June 5, 2021

New Trains, but Not Enough

Transperth trains made in Maryborough until 2019

The good news - the Queensland Government will fund new trains for Queensland Rail's CityTrain network, to be build in Maryborough. The bad news - not enough trains have been ordered.

So why do we need more trains?

  • The current CityTrain timetable has relatively few spare trains, requiring 40 year old EMUs to keep running to cover NGR train modifications.
  • Unreliable and ageing ICE and SMU200 trains are likely to be retired soon.
  • Approximately 7 additional trains are required to make optimal use of the existing train network pre-CRR and ETCS. 
  • Approximately 40 additional trains were required to meet the (now impossible) service proposals in the Cross River Rail business case. 
  • Approximately 25 trains are required to meet the "best case" outcomes for Cross River Rail based on infrastructure available in 2025.

The initial order has has been placed at just 20 6-car trains. Taking into account the replacement of some ageing and unreliable trains, this may leave a net increase of just 12 new trains for Cross River Rail's opening. This adds to the evidence that Cross River Rail's rail operations are a shambles, and that there won't be "More Trains, More Often" to most SE Queensland commuters when Cross River Rail opens in 2025. Whilst there is an option for 45 additional trains, there isn't a great track record of adding to train orders in the last 2 decades, and by 2025 the IMU100 fleet will be nearing 30 years of age as well. 4 years is a very short period to design, build, test, and implement new trains before Cross River Rail opens, and it is thus likely Cross River Rail could open with no more trains than at present!

It can be pretty much guaranteed that if you are expecting any significant improvement to train services in Brisbane and SE Queensland during the next 5 years, and possibly even the next decade, then you will most likely be very disappointed.