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The Caboolture train line has been hit the hardest by Queensland Rail's cancellations, new data has revealed.
The figures, released after a Liberal National Party question on notice in State Parliament, show 3.3 per cent of services on the Caboolture rail were cancelled between October 17, 2016 and February 28, 2017.
Queensland Rail has been under fire since October 21, when 167 services were cancelled and numerous issues were uncovered that led to the wide-ranging Strachan inquiry, several top QR employees resigning and the resignation of transport minister Stirling Hinchliffe, despite being cleared of responsibility.
The saga was sparked following the opening of the Redcliffe Peninsula line on October 4, despite two external agencies warning QR months earlier it did not have enough drivers and guards to meet the increased timetable.
Transport Minister Jackie Trad says the government is working to deliver a reliable railway. Photo: Chris HydeThere were also 261 services cancelled on Christmas Day - more than one-third - due to driver unavailability, unplanned absences and limited rostering flexibility.
The figures, analysed by Fairfax Media, reveal spikes in cancellations across the network in the weeks beginning December 5 and 19 (the Christmas Day cancellations).
A "confluence of infrastructure mishaps and misfires" including storm damage and a broken down train caused lengthy delays on December 8, leading to more than $300,000 in refunds being paid to commuters.
The Caboolture line particularly suffered the week beginning October 24 when 14.58 per cent of services were cancelled.
Commuters faced lengthy delays and were forced onto buses on January 30 after a telemetry failure on the Redcliffe Peninsula Line, with 1.65 per cent of services cancelled that week.
QR has introduced six different timetables since October, including this weekend's reduced Easter rail timetable, which involves most services running only hourly and some only every two hours.
The January timetable has a 9 per cent reduction in the number of weekly services compared to the October 4, 2016 timetable.
After the roll out of the summer timetable on December 28, with significantly fewer services than the other iterations, the data shows large spikes in train cancellations becoming somewhat less common overall.
But QR board chair Phillip Stachan warned QR will not have sufficient train crew to deliver the full timetabled services until mid to late 2019 with no overtime.
Opposition transport spokesman Andrew Powell said it was clear "Labor's rail fail is here to stay".
"There's still two more years of the rail fail cuts and cancellations to go," he said.
Mr Powell also described the Easter rail timetable as "disgraceful".
"This long weekend, when families are trying to enjoy the break and spend time together, they face being left at the station waiting for one train an hour - or one every two hours if you wanted to visit the Sunshine Coast," he said.
But Transport Minister Jackie Trad said a lot of work had been done to investigate the driver shortage and the wider issues at QR were in the making very several years, blaming the former LNP government for cuts.
"The Palaszczuk government's 'fixing the trains' action plan sets out how Queensland Rail will work to deliver a modern reliable railway which puts the customer first," Ms Trad said.
Ms Trad said cancellations were caused by a range of factors, including mechanical and track faults, as well as issues outside of QR's control, such as medical emergencies, level crossing incidents and severe weather events.
"We have been working around the clock to restore reliability of services for commuters and to increase the number of drivers in training," she said.
"Queensland Rail will continue to implement the recommendations from the Strachan inquiry to reach a sustainable solution and ensure any similar situation doesn't occur in the future."
This article first appeared on www.brisbanetimes.com.au
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