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PASSENGER dissatisfaction with Queensland Rail has almost quadrupled in three years.
An annual survey by a commuters’ group reveals the proportion of passengers rating southeast Queensland’s train services as poor or very poor has soared from 12.5 per cent in 2014 to 48 per cent.
Rail Back On Track spokesman Robert Dow said it reflected the impact of the QR “Rail Fail” and ongoing public frustration at delays in fixing the system.
“This is really quite diabolical,’’ he said.
The rail result contrasts markedly with those for other modes. The overall rating for buses has improved, less than 10 per cent of travellers think ferries are poor or very poor and light rail is virtually unchanged over the three years, at less than 10 per cent dissatisfaction.
“Rail is the only one that has nosedived,” Mr Dow said. “It’s really quite striking the way it has fallen off.
“I expected some effects from ‘Rail Fail’ but this is a lot worse than I had expected.’’
Administrator of Train Back On Track Robert Dow outside the Fortitude Valley Train Station. Picture: AAP/Josh WoningThe opening of the long-awaited Redcliffe Peninsula Line in October 2016 exposed a shortage of drivers that led to mass cancellations across the network and ongoing disruption and reduced timetables.
The Rail Back On Track survey of regular travellers found more than half rate the frequency and reliability of train services as inadequate.
“They (Queensland Rail) have been spinning that rail is going OK now. You don’t get these kinds of results from a service that is going OK,” Mr Dow said.
“This is hard evidence as to the impact on the travelling public. And still we are looking at more service reductions over the Christmas/School Holidays with no doubt a very compromised overall rail service leading up to, during and after the Commonwealth Games.”
Transport Minister Jackie Trad said commuter data collected by TransLink showed satisfaction with public transport at its highest levels since 2012. “And we have on time running back above 95 per cent.
“We have been working hard to fix the trains after the deep cuts to driver training the LNP Newman-Nicholls government undertook.”
Deputy Premier Jackie Trad (right) and Queensland Rail CEO Nick Easy. Picture: Claudia Baxter“Rail Fail’’ led to the resignations of QR CEO Helen Gluer and chairman Ian Klug. Transport Previous transport minister Stirling Hinchliffe stepped down following the release of the Strachan inquiry report into the debacle in February.
The latest report from the Citytrain Response Unit, set up by the Palaszczuk Government to monitor progress on QR’s response to the Strachan recommendations, said “stress periods’’ during the winter and September school holidays and the Ekka had been “successfully managed’’.
It also noted that 128 of the 200 extra drivers needed had been selected and 36 trained since October last year. The target for full recruitment is next year.
The Strachan report said 200 more guards were also needed, but 263 have been selected and 105 trained so far.
Improvements have been made after Phillip Strachan’s report into the rail was handed down. Picture: Tara CroserQR chief executive Nick Easy said “significant progress’’ had been made recruiting and training more drivers and guards internally and among former staff and the current external recruitment campaign was the next step in meeting the target and “ensuring a pipeline of talent for the future given some guards are expected to progress to trainee driver positions”.
Meanwhile, Mr Dow branded the LNP’s decision to delay the $5.4 billion Cross River Rail project as “disastrous’’.
He said it would result in “terminal gridlock and chronic transport failure for SEQ’’.
“Cross River Rail is essential for capacity and frequency increases on the entire network and will enable the planned rail expansions to places such as Flagstone, Ripley, Caloundra and Coolangatta.”
This article first appeared on www.couriermail.com.au
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