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15 Nov 2021: A Fast Rail vision for SEQ

Started by ozbob, November 15, 2021, 04:25:38 AM

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15th November 2021

A Fast Rail vision for SEQ

RAIL Back On Track (http://backontrack.org) a web based community support group for rail and public transport and an advocate for public transport passengers wants fast rail services running across SEQ by 2032.

There are increasing calls for a SEQ Fast Rail network to be built in time for the 2032 Olympics.
The SEQ Council of Mayors launched it's "Let's Get Moving" campaign, and Rail Back on Track have repeatedly called for investment in regional fast rail in SEQ.

Whilst the Olympics are a headliner, linking the Gold Coast and Sunshine Coast and Toowoomba with fast rail should happen regardless.

It would unify our region, save time, avoid congestion, allow decentralisation and have massive economic benefits.

Why Fast Rail?

Currently if you are catching a train to the Gold or Sunshine Coasts it's slower than driving.
If you want to go to Toowoomba, there's no regular train service at all!

This is a real problem.

When rail travel isn't convenient, people drive en masse instead. To attempt to keep up with this demand, the government is planning on building new motorways parallel to existing ones, and all manner of continuous roadworks.

Increasing car travel is increasing our emissions.
Ultimately these new roads fill up after a few years, and we are all stuck in congestion.

What is Fast Rail?

Fast rail involves a combination of building new lines and straightening old ones in order to allow speeds in the range 160 - 200 km/h.

This is because trains cannot negotiate sharp turns without derailing.

Many existing rail lines in SEQ were built at the turn of the century and have never been straightened, so trains often must slow to 50km/h to negotiate turns. It's not possible to provide convenient fast services with these constraints.

On the other hand several modern motorway and tunnel projects have been built.
The Motorways are built to be fast, but the train lines aren't.

Importantly, fast rail can carry huge numbers of people. One fast rail line can move more people than an entire motorway, in total safety.

Is it a Bullet Train?

Bullet Trains, or High Speed Rail, as seen overseas travel at around 300km/h plus.
These are better suited for long distance travel between cities, with very few stations (Usually one per city) They require very straight dedicated tracks separated from other train types, and very specialised trains.

Fast Rail in SEQ, to Maroochydore, Toowoomba and Coolangatta is serving a radius of around 100km from the CBD, and would have some stops on the way, given the dispersed nature of SEQ.

Trains wouldn't really get a chance to get up to 300km/h or faster in this setup, so it's not worth the extra money to have bullet trains operating within SEQ only.

So Fast Rail is the best choice?

Fast rail still allows for a decent, adequate top speed of 160-200 km/h, and can accelerate quickly.
Faster than driving and faster than any bus.
Stations are several kilometres apart.
Close enough together that fast rail services are accessible to most people.
Far enough apart that trains can maintain a good speed between stations.

Fast Rail can hook into existing CBD stations and Cross River Rail, so the focus can be on improving tracks elsewhere to deliver time savings.

Where could it stop?

Gold Coast:
Roma St
Boggo Rd
Hope Island
Varsity Lakes

Roma St

Sunshine Coast:
Roma St
Mountain Creek

So how fast could it go?

Be very cautious in simply taking the top speed of the train and dividing by the distance. Trains take time to decelerate and accelerate for each station
For example the fast train from Perth to Mandurah has a top speed of 140km/h, but the average speed is closer to 90km/h when you divide it out.

We believe these travel times are reasonable:

Coolangatta>Brisbane: 70 minutes

(Drive Time: 75 mins offpeak, 95 mins peak)

Toowoomba>Brisbane: 90 minutes
(Drive Time: 100 mins offpeak, 120 mins peak)

Maroochydore>Brisbane: 80 minutes
(Drive Time: 90 mins offpeak, 120 mins peak)

This means no matter the time of day or night, fast rail will offer the quickest trip, and particularly in peak times could save around half an hour each way.

Do we have to wait for Cross River Rail to be finished?


Transport Minister Mark Bailey recently said.
"Once we deal with Cross River Rail we can start looking at extensions" (CM 10/11/2021)
But we don't need to wait!
Cross River Rail is well into construction. We should get a head start on planning and design work now, so by 2025 when the construction workforce has finished Cross River Rail they can transition to building these fast rail projects.
With a 5 year construction period, Fast Rail could be up and running by 2030, comfortably ahead of the 2032 Olympics.

What Projects would need to be built?

- A fast corridor between Beenleigh and the City
Between Beenleigh and the CBD, "Express trains" from the Gold Coast must negotiate a snakelike route, taking 50 minutes to travel just 40km.
The current Gold Coast and Logan Faster Rail project will straighten some of this out, but doesn't go far enough.
A properly designed continuous fast route between Beenleigh and the CBD is the true solution to slash journey times.

- Complete the planned extension from Varsity Lakes to Coolangatta.
This would be a new build, so can be designed to allow fast running on this section from day one. It would mean the entire Gold Coast has good access to fast rail.

- Complete the line from Beerwah to Maroochydore.
Rail to the heart of the Sunshine Coast's heavily populated coastal strip has been touted for decades, but to date has been fobbed off in favour of projects elsewhere.
This would be a new build, so can be designed to allow fast running on this section from day one.

- A fast corridor to the CBD via Strathpine and Alderley
When trains from the Sunshine Coast reach the edge of Brisbane they inevitably have to mix it up with local trains on the Redcliffe and Shorncliffe Lines, and the route into the city isn't particularly direct.
Utilizing the Trouts Road Transport Corridor through the Northside would allow a fast straight rail line to be built, giving trains an unimpeded route.

- Improvements to the Western line between Ipswich and Toowoomba
Currently the only train to Toowoomba is the twice weekly Westlander tourist service.
It takes over 3 hours to travel between Ipswich and Toowoomba due to the winding route over the Great Dividing Range.
The Federal Government's Inland Rail Project will bypass these slow sections with tunnels, greatly reducing travel times.
Fast Rail services can piggyback onto this infrastructure, along with other improvements elsewhere and new stations, allowing for Toowoomba to finally get fast passenger trains at reasonable cost.

All these projects can occur simultaneously across the region and would come together to finally create the SEQ Fast Rail network.

How Much Will it Cost?

We believe around $12b* to complete all projects.
This would involve around 80km of new tracks, utilise new trains, and upgrades to existing lines and stations.
By comparison, the 5km Airport Link M7 road project in Inner Brisbane was $4.8b.
$12b Represents a bargain considering the broader the massive benefits it will create for the region.
The cost is commensurate with other major rail projects occurring interstate.
Ultimately, we want the government to reassess its priorities and put this project first.


$4.0b - Beenleigh to CBD Corridor
$2.0b - Coolangatta Extension
$2.5b - Beerwah to Maroochydore
$1.5b - Toowoomba projects
$2.0b - Strathpine to Alderley

Robert Dow
RAIL Back On Track https://backontrack.org
Half baked projects, have long term consequences ...
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Half baked projects, have long term consequences ...
Ozbob's Gallery Forum   Facebook  X  Threads  Mastodon  BlueSky

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