This month by Victor Isaacs.
In this issue we begin an occasional series about member's timetable collections. In the first article of this series Victor Isaacs writes about his timetable collection and a favourite Australian timetable - the NSWGR Country Public timetable of 15 October, 1905.
The new editor of The Times, Graham Duffin, has suggested a series of articles on members' timetable collections - what they collect and why. I'm prepared to give it a go and kick it off, but I admit this is like an autobiography and that is very self-indulgent!
I have an interest in all forms of public transport and their timetables, but primarily I like trains! My collection of other than railway timetables used to be small and mainly for practical reasons - to know how to get to places off the railway passenger network. In the last few years, my interest and collection has widened. This has been partly a compulsory spin-off from being AATTC Distribution Officer and thus handling all sorts of timetables.
But to my true love: railways. Among the truisms of timetable collectors is one along the lines of "Railway timetable collectors tend to be either frustrated operators (i.e. collectors of working timetables) or frustrated travellers (i.e. collectors of public timetables)".
I mainly collect railway public timetables; I am a frustrated traveller. I spend many hours (ask Agnes my wife) studying public timetables and devising travel itineraries.
My public timetable collection is not restricted to any particular era or place - I cover anywhere. I believe strongly that timetable collectors have a huge advantage in that we can study our interest usually without the restrictions imposed by any lack of other languages. Timetables, after all, mainly consist of proper nouns and numbers. So timetable collectors (and map collectors - another interest of mine) are better off compared with followers of other interests. It is true that in public timetables there is general information given in the vernacular. However after a while even here one starts to pick up a few common words. I have even found that this helps to increase my meagre language skills. It is obviously a huge advantage that most timetables are written in the Latin alphabet. I have taught myself to read the Cyrillic and Greek alphabets (if I can do it, anyone can), but I do draw the line at timetables in other scripts.
I am fascinated by trying to find out what it is like to live in other places and even more, I am fascinated by trying to find out what it was like to live in other times. The study of public railway timetables provides a superb insight.
I obviously prefer original timetables, but in their absence I will content myself with a photocopy - it is the information that is important. I am very happy with printed facsimiles as published from time to time (including by the AATTC).
The centrepiece of my collection is a wonderful collection of New South Welsh Country Public timetables. This category received its first big boost nearly twenty years ago when my brother Albert found in a second-hand bookshop in Melbourne a 1929 edition and gave it to me. This is a superb timetable because it shows the NSWGR at a peak. They had been gradually expanding services since their commencement in 1855 until 1929. But immediately after 1929 the Depression took hold and services were cut. This edition includes not only a high level of services but many unexpected things, like a through sleeping car to (but not from) Crookwell, or a Dubbo - Wellington local Rail Motor service. This is still one of my favourite timetables. I wrote an article at length about it and it was my first contribution published in The Times, in one of the earliest editions (no. 3 of January 1984).
I am a great haunter of second-hand bookshops. Like most such people, I think the great find of my life will be in the next bookshop or at the next bookshelf. Well, this really happened once. Again, strangely, it was a Melbourne bookshop which contributed to my NSW collection. In this bookshop, I discovered a complete run of NSW Country timetables from 1905 to 1915! My eyes must have bulged out of my head. My wallet soon paid the price.
I have picked up other volumes from various sources from time to time. A good source of Public timetables for NSW (and Queensland) is provided by the fact that they were published in Government Gazettes until about 1888. These are commonly available in major libraries. Sometimes these timetables are photocopiable and so added to my collection.
Then the ARHS NSW Division planned to continue their history of the NSWGR 1855-1880 with subsequent volumes covering 25 years each. I was asked to contribute a chapter on passenger services for the next volume 1880-1905. This gave me the impetus to round out my collection with photocopies from the ARHS, NSW Archives and the SRANSW Archives. (The booklet was never published but my article was published in The Times.)
So now I have a nearly complete collection of NSW Country Publics - from 1855 to 1904 as photocopies and since 1905 mainly as originals.
I will now give some examples from an Australian and some overseas timetables as examples of my theory that public railway timetables provide an unparalleled insight into how other people lived.
My Australian examples are from the NSWGR Country Public timetable of 15 October 1905.
My first example is the timetable of services to the Canberra area where I now live. (This is shown on the front page). Services in the 1900s were an immense improvement on pre-railway days, but by today's standards were grim. The timetable for the Goulburn to Cooma line is typical of NSW services for many decades - based primarily on the overnight mail train. On secondary lines such as this, in addition they were only mixed trains and slow: seven hours for 130 miles (208 km). Look too at the very early time of arrival of the train at the main intermediate town of Queanbeyan. Then too note that although the sleeping car was worked through, other passengers (i.e. most passengers) had to change trains at the junction station in the middle of the night (and Goulburn in winter can be very cold). There was only one train, plus a day train only as far as was served by the overnight train in the middle of the night - on this line only twice a week. Two conclusions from this: our forbears had to be pretty hardy, and no wonder people deserted the railways when motor cars became available.
The next extract is of the Blayney - Harden cross-country line. (This is shown on page five). In some respects this is typical of New South Welsh secondary line services in this period - mixed trains connecting from overnight Mail trains. In other respects it is unique - this line had Mail train connections at both ends. Also unusual is the overnight train - this connected from the Up South Mail to the Down West Mail, and from the Up West Mail to the Down South Mail.
The main reason for including this line in this personal article is that it offers cross-country connections - thus it plays a vital role in the itineraries of the imaginary 1905 trips I like devising.
I next pick pages from the general information section (shown on page seven). It provides an insight into how railways then impacted on many, if not most, areas of society from going to bathe, to newspapers reporters' movements to circuses. The item on Aborigines Tickets (shown on page seven) is a shocker - an indictment of our forbears' attitudes and practices. In plain words, Aborigines were prohibited from travelling without receiving an official's permission to do so!
Even the page related to Refreshment Rooms (shown on page eight) provides interest about 1900s life. The fare offered seems very plain by our standards. Note also that in 1905 Australians still referred to such items as local Ale as "Colonial" Ale.
This Sunday suburban timetable (shown on page eight) shows how railways then still observed "church hours", i.e. there was a break in rail services during late Sunday morning so as not to disturb religious services.
Of course, coaches had an important role in connecting places beyond the railway. The page I've selected shows both suburban and long-distance connections (this is shown on page nine). Note how slow they were. They were also very expensive by the standards of the time.
(To be continued next issue when Victor concludes looking at this 1905 NSW Country timetable and then shows us some of his favourite overseas timetables).
Derek Cheng, who is one of our younger members, lives in Sydney and writes about how he became interested in collecting timetables.
Three years ago I didn't even know what a timetable looked like. Now I am just mad about this creature. I have timetables for 1,966 bus routes around Australia.
Originally from Hong Kong, I had no knowledge about timetables. The transport operators there do not publish them. Indeed, you do not need timetables. Buses generally come every 10-20 minutes and the underground comes every 1.8 to 4 minutes. See what I mean?
I was quick to grasp the advantage of timetables. Commuters can plan their trip ahead and have an idea when they will get to their destination. This is a major advantage. Most timetables also include useful information such as fares, customer service and where to get back your lost umbrella.
From the "enthusiast's" point of view, they show how the vehicles are managed, the major stops, where the depot is, when they have the highest or lowest passenger flow, how the service grows or declines and how many vehicles are used. In most cases, bus fans can also `choose their bus`. By knowing the shifts, fans can predict which bus and/or driver will pick them up. It may not matter to an uninterested person, but it does to us and, what's more, we are proud to have found out by looking these things up.
Buses are my major interest, they have led me into many other hobbies which include collecting things, photography and also timetables.
Timetables became essential to me for travelling around when I realised most buses don't come every 10-20 minutes. My first get around was nine days after I came to Sydney. I used the 1994 Sydney White Pages as a guide to my (State Transit Authority [STA] bus) travelling. My first trip was from my former home in Carlingford to my Auntie's at Wahroonga. At that time, I didn't have any timetables but I caught the Harris Park Transport route 82 bus to Epping then the STA route 291 to the city for my first experience of Sydney (by myself). I then caught the STA route 273 to Chatswood, train to Turramurra and Shorelink route 575 to Wahroonga.
My first encounter with timetables began on the route 575 bus when I saw a pile of "colourful brochure-like stuff" at the front dash of the MAN. I paid the fare and decided to find out what they were. I asked the driver and discovered it is something interesting. I got one of each colour and now have the whole Shorelink network except the route 592.
The "colourful things" had maps and the exact times the buses depart. I thought "Gee, we never had that in Hong Kong!" Then I saw the date on the front and wondered would that be an historic item when another one came out? The answer was YES.
A few days later, I began to think would any other bus company do the same. I asked the drivers on the route 82 and they had some.
At Circular Quay I found a Sydney Buses (STA) kiosk which was full of timetables. I asked them for one of each, but the answer was a quick NO! So I got a single route 511 as my first STA timetable. As time passed I found similar facilities at Town Hall, Wynyard, Manly and Bondi. Each time I asked for a couple and my collection soon built up. The same happened with private operators, trains and ferries.
From the Winter 1995 Travel Times Australia timetable I saw the AATTC ad. But I did not want to join at the time so I didn't write. I saw similar ads in the following two issues and finally joined in June 1996. The first activity I went to was the 1996 Annual General Meeting, where I met the familiar face of Tris Tottenham. I had also met him at the Historic Commercial Vehicles Assoc. meetings. Several friendly people such as Duncan MacAuslan, Graham Duffin, Alan Websdale and the Isaacs brothers approached me and I felt really at home.
In contrast, "stupid and silly" were the words around me at school when they knew I liked buses and timetables. Getting on with bus and timetable people is a good experience. They are friendly, non-racist, paying attention to my not-so-well-spoken English, at least those I have met so far.
This year, I have now decided to dedicate predominantly to bus timetables. Nevertheless, I still get other transport timetables at grab boxes and transport terminals.
Where we welcome your feedback, views and comments on The Times and timetabling issues.
1) Tony Bailey - Bus services to/from Sydney airport.
Some comment about the November 1997 issue of The Times (No. 164).
"Graphic Insight" was interesting but fails to deal with all the services from the city to Sydney airport - which has now become a major hub in the State Transit network. Considering that some former senior employees did not show any enthusiasm for serving the airport at all, it is interesting that supporters of the airport services have been fully vindicated.
The route 100 service actually serves part of the city between Dee Why and the airport. Route 305 also serves the airport for a large part of the day. One of the variations of the route 301-302 service also reaches the domestic terminals for a large part of the day.
The airport is also served by Kingsford Smith Transport - which is not really a route operator, but serves the city and Kings Cross hotels very frequently. If you know where to find them, you can be very easily picked up without making a booking.
Sydney airport is also served by the hugely successful route 400 service as well - which doesn't go anywhere near the city.
Tony Bailey, Maroubra, N.S.W.
(Ed: Thankyou for bringing these additional services to our attention. I have obtained the current bus timetables for the routes you mention however I couldn't find any reference to airport services in the Route 301-302 timetable. Does any reader know whether these particular bus routes still operate to Sydney airport as non-advertised services as in past years I have travelled to the airport on the Route 302 bus.)
2) Allan Miles - Why I Collect Timetables.
In response to your call for contributions on the topic of "why I collect timetables", here is a start.
1. I choose to live free of the constraints of a personal motor car, and I find that a collection of public timetables, along with a Travel Pass, is a very convenient alternative. 2. As a member of a public transport action and advocacy group (Action for Public Transport), I make submissions on how transport services and timetables could be improved. A study of timetable leaflets from many operators enables me to pick the good ideas from each and suggest them as improvements to the other operators. For example, Busways' (a large Sydney bus operator) practice of identifying timetable points by way of large numbered dots is an excellent feature that others could well follow. 3. A more leisurely study of a timetable can reveal (or suggest) some characteristics of the community that it serves. For instance, Hobart bus timetables from some years ago show a mini-peak hour at lunch time. A sign, I am told, that city office workers went home for lunch. Some Newcastle timetables show buses and trains at odd hours of the night - serving the shift workers at the steel works. Sunday timetables in Adelaide used to have large blank spaces before noon, reflecting that city's name "The City of Churches". The times of the last tram at night in Bendigo were shown as "at close of cinema" or words to that effect, a reminder of a more leisurely era. The inner-west train timetable for Sydney does not have a peak hour service - just the same 15 minute frequency for 18 hours a day, indicating perhaps a different lifestyle. And the gold mining town of Croydon in North Queensland did have a suburban service from Golden Gate on Saturday night. Must have been a hot time in the old town that night. Allan Miles, Stanmore, N.S.W.
(Ed: I would like to thank Allan for his interesting contribution. I would be pleased to receive more letters from readers about why they collect timetables. I have been asked this question many times by people who have never heard of our interest and I'm sure many readers would be interested to know the varied reasons why we like timetables.)
3) Albert Isaacs - Rockhampton Tram Timetables.
The September 1933 Rockhampton Tram Timetable reproduced inter alia in The Times (No. 166, January 1998) is a very important document for both timetable collectors and those generally interested in the history of central Queensland. The Times is performing an important service by reproducing such obscure and rare timetables.
The Rockhampton tram timetable was one of a package of timetables passed on to you by me at the time that you took on the editorship of The Times. It was one of a group of fascinating timetables that appeared in the AATTC's last auction. By printing it after the conclusion of the auction, you have ensured that more people than just the past and present owner are able to enjoy such a remarkable and significant item.
In conversation with you, Graham, I mentioned that I would be in Rockhampton on 13th November 1997. My intention was to walk along as many of the former tram routes as possible and provide some background notes to accompany the reproduction of the Rockhampton timetable. Nevertheless I understand your enthusiasm in wanting to reproduce something as important as this timetable at the first opportunity so my notes will serve just as well as a Letter to the Editor.
The Rockhampton steam tram system consisted of a rectangle that went along the city's main shopping street, East St., and then travelled southwards on both sides of the main city area. In the south, the rectangle was completed by a journey along Canning St. There were also three routes branching off the rectangle: one in the north-west to Wandal and two in the south-east to Dawson Rd. and (Botanic) Gardens respectively. For the first part of their routes, the lines to the latter two destinations paralleled each other, only one street apart. I was able to inspect all of the system except the Wandal route.
At two points, the lines of the Rockhampton City Council tram system crossed the lines of Queensland Railways which, unusually, also went down the middle of another street, namely Denison St. As alluded to by Victor Isaacs in his notes in The Times (January 1998), Q.R. was contemporaneously running light tank engines and cars along Denison St., the so-called "Tram Trains." A few years back, a group of enthusiasts from the Capricorn Heritage Association built a replica of a Rockhampton steam tram and occasionally run it along the Q.R. line in Denison St. When I was in Rockhampton it was in excellent condition and stored in the yard at Archer Street R.S. (Archer Street station is now leased by the C.H.A. and is also in the process of restoration). The major difference between the original steam trams and the replica is that the 1909 models had only one driving end whereas the one that we can now inspect has two driving ends.
The inappropriately named East St. is the furthest north that trams went and is just south of the Fitzroy River. Today, the major dormitory areas of Rockhampton are on the north bank of the River, along with a number of newer shopping centres. The former central business district - particularly East St., now East St. Mall - is just a shadow of its former glory with dozens of empty buildings and very few shoppers, even in the middle of the day.
Until recently, the tram routes could still be made out in the more extensive bus network of the Rockhampton City Council. Of course, the R.C.C. no longer operates the bus network with the service now being operated by Harry Blundred's Sunbus, better known in the transport world as "Harry the Pom". Harry revamped the network and it is now virtually impossible to see any of the original tram routes in the present system. The majority of the bus routes are now north of the Fitzroy. Even the former tram depot (and later the R.C.C. bus depot) in Canning St. is now the site of the newly built Rockhampton TAFE. One existing vestige of tramway operation is at the Botanic Gardens where Agnes St. buses diverge from traversal of this street to go down and back along the blind street that leads to the Gardens gates and the former tram terminus.
Whilst trying to imagine how the junction at the corner of Canning St. and Dawson Rd. would have looked in tram days, I must have been juggling with my street map. A couple of elderly ladies came up and asked me if I needed help. It transpired that they are sisters and both born and bred in Rockhampton and that they remember the trams very well. They told me that in the 1930s, Anzac Day was the big day for the tram system. A major ceremony was held at the cenotaph in the Botanic Gardens and every bit of available tramway rolling stock was utilised in getting people to the Gardens. Because of the large loads, trams always struggled up the hill at the end of this route and young children, including the now elderly ladies, were made to get off and run alongside the trams.
Because of the single-endedness of the trams, there were turning circles at each of the three termini. I was unable to see any sign of the circle in Dawson Rd. I was told that the unvisited terminus at Wandal still has its circle intact. I certainly saw the turning circle outside the Botanic Gardens gates.
The biggest surprise of my day in Rockhampton came whilst strolling along the Gardens route. I noticed two parallel cracks down the centre of the roadway. "C'mon Isaacs," I told myself. "They can't possibly be what you think they are. There haven't been trams in Rockhampton for nearly 60 years. Don't let your imagination run away with you." Next, I noticed that the crown of the streets traversed by the tram were higher than neighbouring roads as if something had been covered up by the bitumen. There are a number of curves at the end of the Gardens route and at each one of these, the two parallel cracks also turned at exactly the angle at which one would expect tram track to turn. Eventually, I saw it! Poking up from under the bitumen were a few bits of original, ridged, tram track. Still there, even though the last tram ran in 1939!
When I told a local how surprised I was to see the track, she expressed surprise that I should be surprised. "What else would you do with it but cover it up?" she asked. When I explained that most cities pulled up the track when they got rid of their trams, it was again her turn to show surprise. The track is down over the last two kilometres or so of the Gardens route and I am led to believe that track also still exists on the Wandal route.
I would recommend that any tram fan travelling through central Queensland could do worse than spend a day inspecting the former Rockhampton tram routes. I had a wonderful day!
Albert Isaacs, Hawthorn, Victoria.
This month, Graphic Insight looks at the changes in Trans-Pacific air services operated by QANTAS airways in the 1990s. QANTAS is Australia's primary international airline. Its services across the Pacific form a crucial link between Australia and the North American continent. So what sort of service do they provide?
The graph below shows, for each year in review, the number of daily QANTAS flights from the Pacific scheduled to Australian airports. Each vertical bar represents the total weekly number of flights from the Eastern Pacific, and each segment of the bar represents one particular route. The times are taken from the QANTAS public timetables dated effective November 1992, April 1994, 27 October 1996 and 26 October 1997.
Most interestingly, there are fewer flights in 1996 and 1997 than in earlier years. In 1992 and 1994 there were routes serving locations such as Nadi, Cairns, Papeete, and San Francisco, none of which are now served by QANTAS trans-pacific flights This is complicated a little because of changes in code-sharing agreements however as some of these routes are now operated by other airlines. The number of non-stop services from Sydney to Los Angeles has increased from 7 to 14 per week at the expense of these other routes. Since the withdrawal of the Los Angeles and San Francisco to Honolulu services after the 1994 timetable, QANTAS schedules do not enable a traveller to fly from Australia to Hawaii then on to mainland USA.
Perhaps as interesting as any of the above is the complete absence of any service to South America, and more significantly the complete absence of any flights to Brisbane, and indeed since 1996 to Cairns.
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