Sunday, July 26, 2015

Another Information Failure

Both TransLink and QR are far from perfect when it comes to providing customer information. Here is another example. 

Tracks are closed from 10:45pm you say?
Train services will be affected from approximately 10:15pm you say?

So if you were travelling from Central to Ferny Grove arriving at Central at 9pm, you think you would be OK, right? No, the last train from Central to Ferny Grove departs at 8:56pm - 1 hour and 19 minutes before the time that "trains services will be affected". If you turned up at South Bank to get to Ferny Grove at 8:46pm you would have missed the last train - despite there being 1 hour and 29 minutes until the time that "trains services will be affected".

It gets worse, for those travelling into Brisbane from outer suburban areas, the last train from Varsity Lakes is 8:40pm, the last train from Nambour is 8:13pm, and the last Beenleigh Line train departs at 7:48pm - a whopping 2 hours and 27 minutes before "services are affected". 

Whilst this information is available on TransLink's website, the last train information is not available on posters available at stations (or at least BrizCommuter hasn't seen them despite trying). Due to this, quite a few passengers are going to be having a much later night than they were expecting getting home including BrizCommuter. 

BrizCommuter suggests that in this case the statement should say "trains services will be progressively replaced by buses from 7:48pm"?

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Casino kills the BaT?

Just when you didn't think Queensland could have yet another transport failure, then here comes another one.

Nice casino, but where is the train station?
Casino operator Destination Brisbane Consortium (which includes Echo Entertainment Group) has been selected to build a massive new casino project along Brisbane's Queens Wharf. Fantastic news for this who like it throw away their money, eat overpriced food, and hopefully find a few new photo spots. Unfortunately, it is unclear as to what will happen to the planned underground train station on George Street. This was part of the previous LNP government's BaT Tunnel plan - the plan that forgot the interchange at Park Road. Since the BaT Tunnel/Cross River Rail is currently in limbo due to lack of LNP federal and ALP state government funding, it is unclear if the plans still allow for the construction of this station. If the underground station box is not constructed as part of this development, then it rules out the "cheaper" George Street alignment for Brisbane's urgently required rail tunnel, and will ultimately add to the cost of the tunnels construction due to property acquisitions being required elsewhere. 

It is also unclear as to whether the consortium is expected to fund or at least partially fund the construction of the station. In Europe this would be a given - for example the developers and occupiers of Canary Wharf in London placed a considerable amount of funding for the Jubilee Line. If the George Street station is not built at all, then that pretty much rules out any funding by a consortium that is not exactly lacking in funds. 

The casino is expected to open in 2022.  Even if the rail tunnel project suddenly had a kick-start, it is unlikely to be open before this date. Thus there will be a casino opening with no train station within approximately 12 minutes walking distance. This is in contrast to casinos in Melbourne and Sydney with Light Rail/Trams at the door. There might be a bus, but as this is Brisbane, it'll probably stop running at 5:30pm. 

As information is very much lacking, it cannot be completely ruled out that a station will be built and funded as part of the casino development. However it is looking in danger of joining a huge list of recent public transport failures in SE Queensland which include:
  • Time running out to fund the extension of Gold Coast Light Rail / G:link to Helensvale to be completed ahead of the 2018 Commonwealth Games. 
  • Failure to link Legacy Way tunnel with the Inner Northern Busway. 
  • Not enough trains to run a decent peak train service. 
  • Failure to implement an efficient bus network in Brisbane. 
  • Failure to provision an extension of the Doomben Line to Northshore Hamilton. 
Brizvegas continues with its backwards reputation. 

Note: BrizCommuter would like to state that he does not blame the chosen consortium for the looming public transport failure. The blame is well and truly placed in successive state and federal governments. 

Destination Brisbane webpage:

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Gold Coast G:link Extension - Last Chance Saloon

End of the track for funding?
The Gold Coast Commonwealth Games will be held in 2018, just three years away. Unfortunately, there is a big missing link in the Gold Coast's public transport system.  The Gold Coast Light Rail system (known as the G:Link) currently runs from Broadbeach to Gold Coast University Hospital. It unfortunately does not link up with the train line to Brisbane at Helensvale - the lack of this connection was a big mistake in the original design and funding of this system. This link is essential for visitors from Brisbane to access the event areas in Southport easily and quickly by public transport. This link would also be a lasting legacy for improved access from Brisbane and Logan areas to the Gold Coasts beaches, which would be a boon for tourism, locals, and businesses.

Unfortunately, successive state governments (both LNP and ALP) have failed to fund this essential extension. Tony Abbott's "stuck in the 1960s" federal government are also refusing to fund the extension (probably due to the fact that trams don't run on oil or coal). There is now very little time left for work to start so that the G:Link extension can be open before the Commonwealth Games. With no funding in the 2015 state budget, things are looking very grim with only a few months for funding to be found.

If the G:link extension to Helensvale is not completed before the Commonwealth Games, then the impact will be:

  • Poor access by public transport to/from Gold Coast's beach precincts during the games - increasing reliability on buses, and private car (hear Tony Abbott rejoicing for the latter). 
  • No public transport legacy from the Commonwealth Games, for probably the first time in it's history! 
  • Continuing perception from the rest of the world that Queensland, and Australia are backwards. 
  • Continuing poor access from Brisbane and Logan to Gold Coast beach precincts for tourists and locals. 
Only in Queensland is there such incompetence when it comes to public transport planning. 

PS: The failure to extend the heavy rail from Varsity Lakes to Gold Coast airport, and failure to add track amplifications along the Beenleigh Line corridor to allow for a high frequency bi-directional train service to/from the Gold Coast before the Commonwealth Games are both embarrassing for Queensland and Australia. 

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

QR extend platforms - to shorter than trains!

Thomas Street - exciting isn't it!
Queensland - the land of incompetence, ineptitude, and half-baked infrastructure projects. Joining this is news that Queensland Rail (QR) are extending the platforms of Thomas Street station, but just not extended quite enough. If you have never heard of Thomas Street, it is the first station to the West of Ipswich, and en-route to the new depot for Next Generation Rollingstock (NGR) trains.

Thomas Street currently has two 73m platforms, only suitable for 3-car units that typically run on the Rosewood Line every hour (peak 6-car units have to have the rear 3-cars locked). Given that the 6-car only NGR trains will regularly pass through this station, it makes perfect sense to extend the platforms to accommodate a 6-car NGR train which is approximately 144m long. Unfortunately, QR have decided to only extend the platforms by a further 35m to 108m. Thus only 4 whole carriages (out of 6) will be able to berth at Thomas Street. It is assumed that time wasting (and potentially dangerous if accidentally not applied) selective door opening will thus be required for trains stopping at this station.

Reasoning for this half-baked project is unknown. There is a cutting at one end of the station, and a subway at the other, however this has not prevented platforms being extended elsewhere the world. Only in Queensland!

Update 15/07/15

Despite being claimed in QR's press release that this is a "platform extension", this project is apparently more of a "platform being moved" 35m to the East. Thus Thomas Street will continue to only be a 3-car platform station. BrizCommuter is not sure how QR will manage 6-car only NGR trains stopping at this station. It will also be disappointing if Thomas Street has no additional passenger services, despite more trains having to pass through it to get to and from the new depot.