Friday, November 4, 2016

QR's Interim Timetable Mk2 - Summer of Misery

QR's Interim Timetables - A Sinking Ship! 
Last Updated 6am 5/11/16

BrizCommuter's most recent blog post was an analysis of Queensland Rail's (QR) lack of driver (and lack of train) induced meltdown since the opening of the Redcliffe Peninsula Line in early October 2016. BrizCommuter also reviewed the first iteration of QR's Interim Timetable. The Interim Timetable (which is really a list of axed train services) has not worked as well as expected by QR, resulting in additional train services being cancelled, often at short notice. For the last two Fridays over 100 train services have been cancelled, considerably more than the 50 expected according to the Interim Timetable. Whilst the Interim Timetable has allowed for improved system reliability (which isn't difficult when running less trains), it has also resulted in excessive gaps between some train services, and also overcrowding on trains running after the cancelled service (in some cases 3-car units). The constant changes have driven many shift workers back to driving to/from work. Commuters from Nundah and Toombul have been hardest hit. When combined with the October timetable changes, these stations have seen a reduction in peak train services of up to 73%, and reduction in daytime off-peak services of up to 66%. Commuters have also been left frustrated due to the different timetables for Mon-Thu and Friday. Cue the Interim Timetable Mk2, due to be introduced from Monday 7th November, with 333 cancelled services.

The Interim Timetable Mk2 is expected to operate until the New Year, with no end date officially announced. In typical half-arsed Queenslander style, TransLink initially failed to publish the printable .pdf version of the Interim Timetable Mk2 [edit 5/11/16: now available online]. A list of which services have been axed from the original timetable is also missing. Until the .pdf timetables were published, the only way to see the timetables was via TransLink's journey planner timetable, which only shows 4 or 5 services at a time and is thus barely useable. Absolutely hopeless!
Barely useable timetable (and train service) - spot the mistake
This lack of timetable transparency will only annoy commuters further. BrizCommuter attempted to make some headway by trolling through the journey planner, before giving up [edit 5/11/16: more information added since .pdf timetables published]:
  • Interim Timetable Mk2 fairly similar to the Interim Timetable Mk1, with most of the cancelled peak services remaining cancelled.
  • Different timetables for Mon-Thu and Friday which will continue to cause mass confusion. 
  • Friday's Ferny Grove Line am peak service has been savaged, with two full 3-car services completely removed, potentially resulting in overcrowded on following services. 
  • PM peak Cleveland Line express service now finishes even earlier. 
  • Excessive gaps between peak services - 22 minute am peak service gap on inner Beenleigh Line, 30 minute am peak service gap on the outer Cleveland Line Monday to Friday, 30 minute pm peak service gap on the inner Cleveland Line on Fridays, 24 minute pm peak service gap on the Ipswich Line (at different times of course on Fridays). 
  • Disgusting outbound 60 minute off-peak service gap to Northgate, and 90 minute off-peak service gap to Shorncliffe - surely this is a mistake??? 
  • Bizarre 7:58 Doomben to Eagle Junction train on Fridays - where does it go after Eagle Junction?
  • Seemingly random gaps in early morning, daytime, and evening off-peak services an annoyance to shift workers. 
  • More cuts to the already heavily cut "Inner North" services, providing ongoing misery for Nundah, Toombul, Wooloowin, and Albion commuters which have had peak service frequency reduced from every 3 minutes to 15 minutes at times, and the added "fun" of overcrowded 3-car trains.  
  • No information on which services use overcrowded 3-car trains. 
  • Mistakes and inconsistencies found between the journey planner timetable and .pdf timetables. 
  • On the good side, the Inner North services (or lack of) are now sensibly shown on the Shorncliffe Line timetable. 
Politician spin (mainly from beleaguered Transport Minister Stirling Hinchliffe) has not helped the situation. Statements such as "the recent timetable has been less than optimal" doesn't resonate with those who have been suffering from the January 2014 timetable changes for nearly 3 years, such as passengers at Windsor not being able to fit onto some Ferny Grove Line services. Statements such as "the timetable will be more reliable and consistent" doesn't resonate well with those whose services have been axed, lengthening their commute and waits for trains. Different timetables for Fridays is not consistent in the slightest! Statements such as "we are still running more trains than before the Redcliffe Peninsula Line opened"doesn't resonate well with people who use every other train line, who have only seen services reduced.

QR's ongoing lack of train and driver issues, and the resulting Interim Timetable Mk2 will provide a summer of misery for many commuters in SE Queensland. Whilst the seeds of this problem were clearly sown by the previous ousted LNP government, the current ALP government has handled this situation badly with un-truths and spin. To regain any trust in SE Queensland's rail network, the state government, QR, and TransLink need to:
  1. Improve customer information and transparency regarding the new Interim Timetables Mk2 - which services have been cancelled, and which services are 3-car?
  2. Inform customers when the October 2016 timetables will return in full.
  3. Inform customers of when they will receive any financial compensation. 
  4. Inform customers of when the overcrowded 3-car services on the Shorncliffe, Ferny Grove, and Cleveland Lines will be resolved by the introduction of New Generation Rollingstock trains.
  5. Inform customers of when the NGR and extra drivers will allow for long awaited (since 2014) improvements to the timetables, such as extending the pm peak Cleveland Line express services, and improving off-peak services on the Springfield, Ipswich, Caboolture, and Redcliffe Peninsula Lines. 
Right, now where is that car showroom? As I've had enough of trains.

Interim Timetables Mk2:
https://translink.com.au/service-updates/104191

8 comments:

  1. You'd think that they would take the opportunity to reverse the disgraceful slow down and take up less crews' time!

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  2. ^ It seems that QR only worry about on-time running above things like frequency, fast journey times, or even trains turning up at all.

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  3. So at Toombul station which has had a significant reduction in service I note there is a train at 7.45am and then a 3 car carriage at 8.06am, which is already overcrowded by the time it reaches the station. Do QR realise that commuters living on the Redcliffe line are still driving to Shorncliffe and boarding there as the fares from Rothwell are more expensive? This is leading to even more overcrowding and half empty express trains running through Nundah and Toombul.

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  4. On weekend passengers from Lawnton to Virginia have a 30 minute wait at Northgate if wishing to travel to Nundah or Toombul. Surely there the inbound Redcliffe Peninsula trains could stop these two stations as there is a two minute wait at Central where the time lost could be regained. Traveller to Wooloowin and Albion could detrain at Eagle Junction and wait 12 minutes for the Airport- Gold Coast train. Would this be to much trouble in providing a service to the travelling public?

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  5. Did you know that each time there is a timetable update it is independently reviewed for analysis of staffing breaks and rest times at a a cost of $30,000 each time? That's what the CEO said on ABC 612 mid last week. I doubt they spent that on the 1st interim timetable (who knows - nobody is saying), but it will be paid after this one. It will also be paid after future schedules.

    Unfortunately this is how Queensland works. A sector, let's say electricity, is left under funded until it causes problems, let's say rolling blackouts. Then it is over-funded to the point that we have the most expensive, gold plated system of that type for the consumer. For those who don't remember, this round-about has happened with electricity, flooding mitigation, trains, drinking water/drought stability mitigation, dams, public transport to the Gold Coast, Gold Coast to Brisbane motorways, Brisbane to Sunshine Coast motorways, Brisbane to Cairns "fast" (not very fast) tilt trains, airports, education, procurement, health/hospitals and then repeat everything I wrote a couple of times over with random additions of anything the government manages.

    In short, money is poured into what's totally falling apart until it is no longer in the spotlight at the expense of everything else. That way (and NOT to the government's liking, but completely logically) there will always be some major infrastructure issue that is short of money, inevitably causing massive, immanent or actual issues.

    So as great as it is that these issues have focus, my concern is... what's going wrong that doesn't have our attention yet? Ask fire fighters, putting out spot fires is immediately important, but stopping fires before they start is far more effective. I'd like to see more effort put into keeping "fingers on the pulse" by ensuring all government departments and department heads are salaried positions, never contracted and span more than one government.

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  6. 90min gap is what you expect on the doomben line, not shorncliffe heh

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  7. I get the feeling that this timetable will flop as well. No thought has really been given to correcting the timetable, it's mainly just slashing of services in order for QR to meet its own KPIs at the expense of commuters.

    Some services changes are just downright confusing and make absolutely no sense such as these ones:

    6:59 Beenleigh to Ferny Grove - Express from Trinder Park to Rocklea. The amount of time saved on this service by running express is zero and creates a big gap between services for the stations skipped.

    7:58 Doomben to Roma Street - Why terminate at Eagle Junction? And would this not delay the services that come in to Eagle Junction behind this service?

    The removal of all Roma Street to Northgate weekend runs - This already started this weekend, seemingly compensated by making the Caboolture/Nambour trains stop at all inner north stations and running a Northgate to Petrie express pattern, still leaving an 18 minute gap between services. This wasn't advertised in the journey planner or timetable. Oddly enough, the Redcliffe Peninsula Line trains were still running express Bowen Hills to Northgate.

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  8. Bring in private operators please. This is ridiculous.

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