Tuesday, October 18, 2016

How many more NGR trains does QR need?

QR's NGR Train
Queensland Rail's (QR) New/Next Generation Rollingstock (NGR) will, when taking into account replacing the ageing EMU and ICE trains, result in 27.5 more 6-car units compared to the existing train fleet. BrizCommuter looks at how many more NGR trains may be required on top of the current 75 train order. These includes what is required now to resolve overcrowding, and what will be required by the end of current NGR deliveries in 2018. Patronage growth as a result of the fare review, and newly opened Redcliffe Peninsula Line has been factored in.  Due to the non-public availability of passenger load information and working timetables (which show empty out of service trains), considerable guess work has been required which may decrease accuracy (in either direction).

The only extra infrastructure taken into account is the Coomera to Helensvale duplication. It is claimed in project literature that the Gold Coast peak and counter-peak service will increase by 2 trains per hour (tph), though BrizCommuter debates how this is actually possible given the limited tracks along the Beenleigh Line corridor. A request to the Coomera to Helensvale duplication project team has never been answered. It has been assumed that the extra Gold Coast Line services will prevent any increase in peak frequency to the Beenleigh Line.

It has also been assumed that maximum capacity of the mains tracks (Ipswich, Springfield, Caboolture, Sunshine Coast, and Redcliffe Peninsular Lines) is 20tph (train every 3 minutes), and the maximum capacity of the suburbans tracks (Ferny Grove, Shorncliffe, Airport, Doomben, Cleveland, Gold Coast, and Beenleigh Lines) is 22tph (train every 2.5 minutes, with one 5 minute gap every 30 minutes). Improved counter-peak direction service frequency (e.g. out of the City in the am peak, into the City in the pm peak) has also been evaluated, and as these services run slower than empty trains, the resulting requirement estimate for additional trains has also been factored in.

Additional off-peak services are not relevant to this article, as there are already sufficient trains for considerably enhanced off-peak services. Funding and sufficient train crew are the current restrictions for enhancing off-peak services.

Peak service improvement priorities
  1. Replace 3-car trains with 6-car trains, with priority based on crowding.
  2. Expand pm peak Cleveland Line express pattern services.
  3. Regular (8tph) pm peak frequency on Ferny Grove Line.
  4. Additional peak services based to reduce standees based on crowding (in particular peak of pm peak Ipswich, Springfield, Caboolture, and Redcliffe Peninsula Line services). 
  5. Regular (8tph) am and pm peak frequency on Gold Coast Line post-Coomera to Helensvale duplication. 
  6. Expand coverage of high-frequency peak services based on crowding.
  7. Expand 15 minute counter-peak service where possible across the network (in particular Ipswich, Springfield, Caboolture, Redcliffe Peninsula Lines). 
AM Peak
  • Estimated that there are 18x3-car trains in service (+/-2) = 8 to 10xNGR trains.
  • 1 extra late am express service on Cleveland Line = 1xNGR trains. 
  • 1 extra late am peak service in Ferny Grove Line (filling in 15 minute gap) = 0 to 1xNGR train  (may be formed from existing Bowen Hills terminating service).
  • 1 extra early am peak Northgate to CBD service, improved counter-peak service = 1xNGR train. 
  • No additional am peak Shorncliffe Line services (assumed insufficient track capacity). 
  • 3 extra Gold Coast Line am peak services (filling in 15 minute gaps) = 3xNGR trains. 
  • No additional Beenleigh Line services (assumed insufficient track capacity).
  • No additional Doomben Line services (assumed insufficient track capacity).
  • 2 extra Ipswich Line am peak services (expanding 6 min frequency), 15 min counter-peak = 2xNGR trains.
  • 2 extra Springfield Line am peak services (expanding 6 min frequency), 15 min counter-peak = 3xNGR trains.
  • 1 to 3 extra Caboolture Line am peak services (filling in 12 and 30 minute gaps), 15 min counter-peak = 2 to 4xNGR trains.
  • No additional Sunshine Coast Line am peak services (assumed insufficient track capacity). 
  • 2 extra Redcliffe Peninsula Line am peak services (early expansion of 6 min frequency, later expansion of 12 min frequency), 15 min counter-peak = 3xNGR trains.
  • 2 early am peak Airport Line services (filling in 30 minute gaps) = 2xNGR.
  • TOTAL = 25 to 30xNGR trains. 
PM peak
  • Estimated that there are 11x3-car trains in service (+/-2) = 5 to 7xNGR trains required.
  • 2 to 4 extra express services on Cleveland Line = 2 to 4xNGR trains required. 
  • 3 extra services (filling in 15 minute gaps) on Ferny Grove Line = 3xNGR required.
  • 2 extra CBD to Northgate service (extending combined 7.5 frequency), improved counter peak service = 1xNGR.
  • No additional Shorncliffe Line services (assumed insufficient track capacity).
  • 3 extra Gold Coast Line pm peak express services (filling in 15 minute gaps), 3 extra Gold Coast Line counter-peak services (filling in 30 minute gaps) = 6xNGR.
  • No additional Beenleigh Line services (assumed insufficient track capacity).
  • No additional Doomben Line services (assumed insufficient track capacity).
  • 1 to 3 extra Ipswich Line pm peak services (filling in 12 min gaps), 15 minute counter-peak services (filling in 30 min gaps) = 1 to 3xNGR.
  • 1 to 3 extra Springfield Line pm peak services (filling in 12 min gaps), 15 minute counter-peak = 1 to 3xNGR.
  • 1 to 2 extra Caboolture Line pm peak services (filling in 12 min gaps), 15 minute counter-peak = 2 to 3xNGR.
  • No additional Sunshine Coast Line am peak services (assumed insufficient track capacity). 
  • 1 to 3 extra Redcliffe Peninsula Line pm peak services (filling in 12 min gaps), 15 minute counter-peak = 2 to 4xNGR.
  • No additional Airport Line services (already every 15 minutes).
  • TOTAL = 23 to 34xNGR.
Up to 3 more NGR trains may need to be ordered now to manage a more optimal am peak service, and approximately 7 more NGR trains may need to be ordered now to manage a more optimal pm peak service. Given, the recent cancellations due to lack of train crew, it is also critical that sufficient extra train crew are employed and trained to allow the NGR trains to be used to their full potential.

If any more infrastructure projects are planned, or the implementation of ETCS signalling to allow for higher frequencies, then additional NGR trains to the numbers stated will need to be ordered, to allow for implementation into services before the infrastructure opens. The current lack of trains issue that has been ongoing since January 2014, is due to political ineptitude (from both sides of politics) and poor planning, and should never be repeated.

Addendum 19/10/16

Informed sources mention that QR's 20 year old SMU200 series trains have reliability issues, with some of the units out of service indefinitely. Replacement of these units would require an additional 6 NGR trains in addition to the recommended purchase of at least 7 more trains.

2 comments:

  1. This morning Neil Scales on Steve Austin (612 ABC), the Helensvale to Coomera duplication will allow for 8 trains per hour, rather than 4. This is twice your statement in this blog post.

    As a Helensvale to Central traveler this sounds like good news but I don't see how it is practical.

    I don't understand how the current South-Brisbane to Roma street Brisbane River crossing could achieve this, which makes me conclude that at least some of the extra 4 services must be going west via Indooroopilly line - "take a left just before Yeerongpilly". I've taken this route a few times when operational issues dictated it. If true, this would miss the major interchange at Park Road (University of Queensland port-of-call and primary Cleveland Line interchange). This conclusion is based on no evidence what-so-ever.

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  2. As far as I'm aware, 8tph can be run in the peak direction as Gold Coast trains can overtake Beenleigh Line trains along the 3 tracked sections (and at Bethania). There is just about enough capacity through the CBD to allow this capacity increase (though unreliably) to 22tph.

    However, in the opposite (counter-peak) direction, things are problematic as there is only one track available, and Gold Coast Line trains catch up behind Beenleigh Line trains. Thus I cannot see how more than 2tph can be run counter-peak or even off-peak, without significantly slowing down Gold Coast Line services.

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