Monday, December 5, 2016

QR's Next Big Fail - NGR Guard Position

QR's NGR train - where's the guard?
Since electric trains have been running in Brisbane (in 1979, exactly 100 years after the Germans had electric trains), the guard's location has been placed in the middle of a 6-car train (usually the front cab of the 4th car), or the back of a 3-car train. This means that the guard is always positioned where disabled passengers, or those seeking assistance with boarding/alighting wait for assistance. Some platforms have also been raised in the middle, so as to assist with wheelchairs and prams getting on and off the train.

Queensland Rail's (QR) New Generation Rollingstock (NGR) trains will all be 6-cars long. It is rumoured that the LNP Newman government made no provision for guards on the NGR trains, despite eliminating guards within such a short time frame being completely unrealistic. QR have since scrambled to modify the trains design to allow for guards, however this will result in the guard being located at the back of the 6-car train, not the middle.

Disabled waiting location - 70m from guard location!
This obviously poses a serious issue. The guard will be at the back of the train, and the passengers needing assistance will be in the middle of train, more than 70m away. Now this is one of those issues you would have thought would be have been sorted by now. However due to usual lack of transparency, commuters (as well as taxpayers and voters) are completely unaware of the solution, if there is one. Brisbane's useless media have also failed to pick up on this looming crisis. What could be options be:
  • Guards able to operate the doors from any location on the train (as on some UK trains) - but does the train have technical provision for this? 
  • Station staff to assist disabled passengers - but staffing is inconsistent between stations, or will extra station staff be required at extra cost?
  • Additional customer service staff in the middle of NGR trains - also with extra staffing costs?  
At a time when many rail operators are eliminating guards to improve efficiency, it seems that QR may have to increase the number of guards or customer service staff to fix this design issue. Has anyone informed our "head in sand" Transport Minister Mr Hinchliffe yet?

12 comments:

  1. Is there a reason the driver can't just assist disabled passengers where necessary, as is done in Melbourne?

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    Replies
    1. Only due to the "Queensland" effect.

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    2. No - the problem is the entire train can't go anywhere without the driver, and the driver will take a couple of minutes to walk down from his cabin (front of the tran) to the disability equipment (middle of station), put it together, help the patron on, take apart and stow the equipment and head back to the driver's seat. It might only be an extra 5 minutes per stop, but that's at every station at peak so.... we would need a new timetable... and longer trips.

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  2. Apart from the platforms that have been altered it is a simple thing to just move the waiting area to the rear of the train..the passenger will need to be aware/made aware whether the train will be a 6/or three carriage train. Really not that big of a deal. I think a lot of this train stuff is very much first world problems.

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    Replies
    1. The guard would have to be moved to the rear of 6-car EMU, SMU, and IMU trains as well as the new NGR trains. However, that is not impossible, just maybe too difficult in the Banana State.

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    2. All the station mobility access is in the centre of the station. So we either need to redesign every single station in service, redesign NGR trains, have dedicated staff at stations all operating hours, or expect the driver/guard to do the walk every time.

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  3. Are the accessible toilets going to be located in the middle of the train as well?

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    Replies
    1. That's a very good question, to which BrizCommuter doesn't know the answer!

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    2. They ought to be at the ends of the train so the corridor through the middle of the train will be wide enough to allow wheelchairs to pass from one end to other.

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    3. Found out the answer - the accessible toilets will be in the middle of train car 3/4.

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    4. I worry that an accessible toilet in cars 3/4 in a narrow gauge train will make the way between carriages too narrow to permit a wheelchair user to move into the next carriage if needed. Potentially a serious safety issue in the event of an emergency! Are we able to confirm internal dimensions?

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    5. I understand this issue has been raised by the relevant community groups

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