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Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Moreton Bay Rail... Reality

So, it’s finally happened: Moreton Bay Rail, has finally got it’s start date: after a century of waiting, two years of construction and a signalling fault that delayed the opening by four months, Queensland’s answer to Sydney’s Eastern Suburbs Railway in terms of mythology is finally completed. Opening  on October 4, it will dramatically change the face of travel on Brisbane’s northside. But how will you survive, and how will you evolve with a modern network. This is what this post is all about. Let us begin, with a motivator for everyone.

A interesting way to start is by looking at airport travel, currently either the market of the airport shuttles that have sprung up with Moreton Bay’s growth, or the family car to either Brisbane Airport or the many parking facilities outside airport boundaries, that offer their own shuttles to the airport.
Moreton Bay Rail will not just offer travel times to the CBD competitive with the motor car, but to Brisbane Airport as well, with one change: Eagle Junction. This will be beneficial, particularly to the the groups of 1-2 that fill these shuttles, often paying  well over $100 return,  with a reliable service that would get people to Brisbane Airport just over 1hr after leaving Caboolture/Kippa-Ring stations respectively, at a cost around $10-$20 cheaper return, than with a shuttle company, based on the current price for Petrie-Domestic airport. Another factor, for family or for any travel plans made in advance is Airtrain’s online ticketing (which will be available to the five new stations, once Moreton Bay Rail opens), which can offer you 15% cheaper rates if you book 7+ days before you travel, along with under 14yr olds travelling to Domestic/International for the price of a Translink fare to Eagle Junction (provided it is booked online) it all adds up. There is one caveat however: the online Airtrain fares are good for your rail portion of your journey only, along with adult fares being charged to concession card holders regardless of what ticketing method (Airtrain online, go card or paper ticketing) is used. However, the time savings in peak hours, will be a boon once Gateway Upgrade North (between Nudgee and Deagon) construction really kicks into high gear, in the same fashion the Pacific Motorway upgrade between Nerang and Logan two decades ago helped boost patronage on the newly rebuilt Gold Coast railway line, to the point duplication was made necessary, for sections between Ormeau-Coomera and Helensvale-Robina, less than 10 years after opening, and the final piece of the jigsaw (Coomera-Helensvale) is currently under construction, tying in with G:Link stage 2 works at Helensvale.

The next thing up to the plate, is the arrival of a much vaster range of destinations available via rail and one change. The first one is Chermside: currently being fed by a 680, that had become a glorified rail feeder, in the last six years, as bus services started to meet it at North Lakes. Now most of those same services will meet rail, and open up a new opportunity, for interchange at Carseldine and (to a lesser extent) Geebung stations. For example:
Kallangur-Chermside (currently: 1hr 14min, journey post MBRL will likely be just over 1hr, via Carseldine)
Murrumba Downs/Griffin-Chermside (currently : 1hr47min, journey post MBRL expected to again be just over 1hr via Carseldine)
Mango Hill/North Lakes-Chermside (currently: 1hr from bus station: likely to not change regardless of option, although direct outbound links to rail will be a boon.)
Rothwell-Chermside (currently: 1hr10min, expected to match that timing via Carseldine.)
Kippa-Ring-Chermside (currently: 1hr 15min expected to match that timing via Carseldine.)
Deception Bay-Chermside (currently: 1hr37min, expected to be 20mins faster via Carseldine)
All this is possible, due to MBRL timetabling allowing a 10min gap at Carseldine station between train and BCC terminating/originating service inbound, and a 2-17minute gap (which needs rectification) between BCC terminating service outbound and MBRL outbound. Other destinations that are directly accessible via MBRL services (outside the CBD from Kippa-Ring), include Toowong (1hr6mins) Indooroopilly (1hr11mins) and Springfield (1hr39mins). A little tip for Indooroopilly though, if you can’t stand walking up Station Rd to Indooroopilly Shopping Centre, get off at Toowong instead, and there will be buses that continue on to Indooroopilly interchange almost every four minutes, via stop 14A on High Street Toowong, 250m away from Toowong station.
However, to access Toombul Shopping Centre, you must change at Northgate: something that is standard across both Caboolture and Kippa-Ring Lines after MBRL opening, due to new express patterns on those lines after Northgate: only observing Eagle Junction prior to Brisbane’s inner core (Bowen Hills, Fortitude Valley, Central and Roma St.)

Sunday travel. Something people in other regions take for granted, yet was a rarity (outside core networks), in the central section of Moreton Bay, including Redcliffe. At this current time: 88km, of the 182km Hornibrook network is not even operating 7 days a week: including services to North Lakes from Kallangur, and from Redcliffe’s suburbs to Kippa-Ring/Redcliffe. All this will change with Moreton Bay Rail, with a figure released by Translink at the end of consultation, that 98% of homes surrounding the MBRL corridor would now have access to a Sunday bus service. This has benefits, for retailers, especially with the North Lakes expansion, as well as the heart of Redcliffe: now being served by Sunday services from the urban expanse. There will need to be, however, provision in the near-term (within a year of MBRL opening) for funding to increase the 660/680 between Kippa-Ring Station and Redcliffe Pier and the 687 between Mango Hill Station and North Lakes bus interchange, to half-hourly frequencies 7 days a week: due to increased patronage, related to Ikea North Lakes opening, and travel to the Redcliffe Peninsula being simplified from most areas surrounding MBRL.

Back in 2012, a move was made, to trial a North Lakes-Deception Bay service: the 661, for twelve months: however the trial was extended, until ultimately, the route was canned in early 2014, due to poor boarding numbers: something attributed to the circuitous route it took around Deception Bay, including paralleling, the long held 668 service between Narangba station and Deception Bay for half of it’s route.  However, with the development of two services, coinciding with MBRL’s opening (a new 662, to Rothwell Station covering the 668’s section of Deception Bay, and the existing 665 loop being extended to Rothwell Station) the 668 is being freed from serving Deception Bay, and will instead give North Lakes a direct link to Narangba station (a alternative to Petrie for Caboolture/Nambour, but not Gympie North), and in turn giving the Narangba Valley residential area the potential for a throughrouted 663/668 to North Lakes: adding a much needed destination to that area (currently, the Narangba Valley-North Lakes journey takes just over one hour, and involves a change of mode at both Narangba and Petrie: an much larger enticement to drive fifteen minutes down the Bruce) and a public transport option for the expanding business sphere alongside the North-South Arterial.

The expected cost, to get into Brisbane City (using go Card), when the line opens on October 4 will be for adults, $6.69 at peak ($5.35 off-peak/weekend) and for children/concessions $3.35 at peak ($2.67 off peak/weekend).

However, the QLD Government has committed to rolling out a new fare system, that is much simpler to understand in January 2017. The major benefit will be that the current 23 zone system will be condensed down to eight larger zones. This means, that zone 6 (along with zone 7 (Deception Bay/Burpengary) and zone 8 (Morayfield/Caboolture), will become part of a new zone 3, stretching from Caboolture, down to the Pine River, and will slash the costs of travel within MBRC area, by making trips within this zone, a one zone fare, instead of the three zone fare, currently charged.
Current adult three zone fare (go Card):  $4.66 peak/$3.72 off peak.
New adult one zone fare (go Card): $3.20 peak/$2.56 off peak.
Current child/concession three zone fare (go Card): $2.33 peak/$1.86 off peak
New child/concession one zone fare (go Card): $1.60 peak/$1.28 off peak.
This will likely see more intra-MBRC travel take place, potentially seeing demand increase for better services particularly on Sundays, and off peak times.

So, that's it! And don't forget to enjoy, the opening day proceedings on October 3, not to mention registering for the event itself: and remember, that the "Redcliffe Peninsula Line", much like it's sister in Sydney, the Eastern Suburbs railway between the CBD and Bondi Junction, is no longer the promise trotted out by every politician with a ambition, whether it was premiers like Sir Thomas McIlwraith, Sir Joh Bjelke Petersen, Wayne Goss, Peter Beattie or countless members for Redcliffe like Jim Houghton (for which the original Houghton Highway bridge between Brighton and Clontarf is named) and Terry White (of pharmacutical fame) who have fought so long for this moment to become fruition. A railway to Redcliffe is no longer a fantasy: It is now indeed... MORETON BAY RAIL... REALITY!

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