Queensland Minister for Transport and Main Roads Scott Emerson
Panel Delivers Rail Capacity Options
Victor P Taffa
Cross River Rail’s gold-plated option has been rejected by an expert panel commissioned to review the project.
Minister for Transport and Main Roads Scott Emerson acknowledged the panel for providing clear short- and long-term strategies to address the looming train capacity crisis for the Merivale Bridge and inner city.
“The panel concluded that the full Cross River Rail project was ‘beyond the scope required to address the immediate rail capacity problem from the southern side of the river’.” Mr. Emerson said.
“In other words, the same result could be achieved by delivering the core of the original proposal, involving two tunnels between Yeerongpilly and Victoria Park.” Mr. Emerson said.
“The earliest this could be delivered would be in 2020 for about $4.445 Billion almost $4 Billion less than Labor’s proposal prior to the March 2012 election campaign.”
“After seven years Labor came up with a gold-plated version of Cross River Rail that was unaffordable and undeliverable with costings ranging from $8.3 Billion to $7 Billion to $6.4 Billion over the six weeks of the election campaign.”
The panel was also asked to report back on potential measures to extend the capacity through the CBD beyond 2016.
“The Newman Government has been left with a budget diving towards a $100 Billion debt by 2018/19 and a train network driving towards a capacity crisis.” Mr. Emerson said.
“Unlike the previous government we won’t be avoiding the issue, rather we’ll be looking at the short-to-medium term options the panel identified.”
The short-term options would allow up to 12 % increase in capacity during the busiest peak period and require changing the configuration of seating and short starter turn-backs.
“The panel has recommended some additional interim measures, costing $200 to $300 Million, which would improve capacity by an additional 28 %.” Mr. Emerson said.
“These included upgrading signalling, additional stabling, and fare incentives for the shoulder peak.”
“Timetabling the Sydney to Brisbane XPT away from the morning peak would also create two additional train paths.”
“I will now prepare a submission for Cabinet to consider and continue to engage Federal Minister Anthony Albanese and Infrastructure Australia.”
Interim Solutions to be considered by the State Government
- Seat reconfiguration to increase capacity by approximately 5%
- Real time information to encourage passengers to choose less crowded services
- Station platform management to control station dwell times in order to maintain a maximum number of trains per hour in association with seating reconfiguration
- Demand management using targeted off-peak discounts to encourage passengers shift to the off-peak and shoulder peak services
- Turning back around 7% of trains to achieve another trip in the 2 hour peak period
- Timetabling the XPT away from the morning peak to create two extra train paths for Gold Coast or Beenleigh services
- Increasing the shoulder services around the AM peak one-hour and encouraging a reduction from 65% of trips in the peak one hour to approximately 60% of peak trips in the peak one hour
- Adding more peak period services up to the limit of the infrastructure which will add capacity but negatively impact reliability
- Undertaking targeted signalling system enhancements to improve the reliability of increased peak services
- Constructing targeted stabling facilities for additional trains at locations that reduce junction conflicts and improve capacity
- Sufficient new trains to support peak spreading and additional peak services
Long term solution to be considered by the State Government
- Priority delivery of ‘Core’ Cross River Rail works followed by northern and southern surface works
- ‘Core’ includes
- Construction of two running tunnels from the southern to the northern portal
- Development of four new underground stations at Woolloongabba, Boggo Road, Albert Street and Roma Street
- Connections to the existing northern and southern rail network
- ‘Core’ delivers
- Double capacity of the rail network from the south and improved service and reliability
- Reduced passenger crowding
- Halved inner city journey time (Yeerongpilly to CBD in 10 minutes)
- ‘Core’ costs
- $4.445 Billion (2010$s, P90)