Having to commute every day from Gold Coast to Brisbane I experience first hand the good and the bad of commuting by train. First let me give you some useful data:
The distance from Surfers Paradise to Brisbane CBD is around 77 kilometres and driving through the M1 motorway or as they call it Pacific motorway will take you less than an hour. That is even in peek hours but not when you run onto a road accident that is quite common in M1 motorway which is very heavy on traffic and is considered one of the most dangerous highways in Australia regarding accidents. In those cases total travel time might be as long as two and a half hours. Plus if you go by car in Brisbane city centre then you have to pay a small fortune every month for parking.
So this is a great opportunity to develop the sustainable and environmental friendly solution of train commuting. But unfortunately train is not that popular in South East Queensland. And if this is not the case for the people living here, it certainly is the case for the decision makers. And let me explain this:
The rail line that connects Gold Coast (in general and not Surfers Paradise) with Brisbane City Centre is almost 90 kilometres long making a journey from Surfers Paradise to Brisbane a total of one hour and a half.
That is about 20 minutes by car to Nerang Station -where fortunately there is a free commuter parking- and then 70 minutes from there to Central Station in Brisbane. If we consider the rail distance from Nerang Station to Brisbane Central Station is 75,9 kilometres, that makes the average train speed 65 kilometres per hour. Did you say slow? Actually it is slow, regarding all train standards and not just highspeed rail.
But I am afraid that is not the only drawback keeping commuters away from the Gold Coast train. The train is not comfortable at all; The seats are like the ones that you expect from a metro train and not from a suburban train not to mention an intercity train. Certainly if you want to catch an early morning snooze or a late afternoon nap then you must do that on a sitting straight position with the fear of banging your head somewhere.
"Ok I can not sleep but can I use this time to work in my laptop?" Bad luck again. No tables at all and not enough space to have it even on your lap.
"How about wireless internet connection?" Only a small number of the trains have that and not in every car. And when you are lucky enough to be in one of those then there is a time limit and a limit in what you can access. So, no youtube videos or other streaming media.
But even you are someone that does not care for all this and you just enjoy reading a good book during trip time then you should take care where you board the train. Almost all trains during the peak hours run full so for the most part of the trip there are a lot of standing passengers. Add to that that the trip frequency is not good having only 3 trains from Gold Coast between 7-8 am and only 5 trains between 7-9 am.
In one of my next posts I will write about what people commuting from Gold Coast to Brisbane do and what they can do with a little help from state government and the two city councils.