Dear members and friends,
1. Letters to the Editor: This issue carries our largest number of letters to date so please keep them coming. I am keen to encourage this participation by readers and will always print letters on issues related to The Times and timetabling matters. In fact I give the Letters to the Editor section top priority in allocating magazine space as I believe interaction with readers is the life blood of any successful club magazine.
2. A Standard for Timetables?: I am employed in the construction industry as a Contracts Administrator and most of the contracts I administer are based on Australian Standard AS2124-1992. This is a standard contract format that the Australian Standards Association has developed over the years. After reading Bob Henderson's article about the Menai Bus Service timetable in last month's edition (The Times No. 168, March 1998 p 8 & 9) the thought occurred to me that it would be very helpful if there was a similar standard for the publication of transport timetables so that all the essential basics were always included. Basics such as the name, address and phone no. of the operator, a route map, the date the timetable commenced, a standardised method of abbreviations and so forth. Maybe someone should be suggesting to the Australian Standards Association that they develop such a standard for transport timetables. What do you think? I welcome your views.
Yours in the cause of happy timetable collecting, Graham Duffin. Editor, The Times.
By Victor Isaacs.
Victor Isaacs has found out about some organisations who have an ancillary interest in timetables - timekeeping on railroads.
I recently sighted some Bulletins of the National Association of Watch and Clock Collectors (NAWCC), a US organisation, which will be of interest to some timetable collectors.
The NAWCC has a large membership. The Bulletin is particularly well produced. There are six big issues a year. Those I sampled were full of diverse, interesting articles with subjects ranging from technical details of watches and clocks to the social effects of timekeeping. There were a number of articles about railroads and timekeeping. A regular feature of every issue is Railroad Corner about railroad watches.
The NAWCC has a large number of local branches, including Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane. Membership is $US40 p.a. The address is 514 Poplar Street, Columbia PA 172512-2130 USA.
I have also become aware of an equivalent society in the UK, called the British Horological Institute. I have not seen their magazine but was told it is more concerned with technical aspects than is the US NAWCC Bulletin. Membership costs £53 pounds sterling p.a. and their address is Upton Hall, Upton, Newark, Notts NG23 5TE United Kingdom.
The NAWCC is on the internet: http://www.nawcc.org and the British Horological Institute is at http://www.bhi.co.uk - this site has a lot of useful links to related sites of interest. The German Verband der Deutschen Uhrenindustrie's web site (in English) at http://www.vdu.org/ is mainly about the current watch and clockmaking industry but also has links to related sites.
The Brisbane River CityCats, whilst succeeding in providing length of river services in recent years, were not the first catamarans on the river. In the mid-1960's the Golden Swan Ferry service began operations from Bulimba to the Riverside Centre via Hawthorne, East Brisbane and New Farm using three fast catamaran ferries. Renamed Golden Mile, this service continued until 1991, when it ceased due to mounting losses and insufficient government subsidy.
The first Golden Mile timetable illustrated (this is shown on the front page and page 5) is from April 1989, at which time ferries operated peak hour extensions down river to Hamilton and up river to North Quay and Toowong at Kayes Rocks. Interestingly the timetable shows ferries arriving at Toowong but leaving Kayes Rocks, and uses the term 'Top of Mall' for North Quay even though the Queen Street Mall finishes quite some distance away. The map still shows a kink in the service where ferries called at the Expo 88 site at Southbank. A half hourly service was operated all day with an hourly service on weekends. The peak hour service was almost identical to the route now operated by the Brisbane City Council CityCats.
By July 1989 Golden Mile was already showing signs of strain and had reduced its service back to its original form (Riverside Centre - Bulimba) and the daytime services had reduced to hourly. After the Golden Mile service ceased, Brisbane City Council took over operations with a service from New Farm Park to Southbank, adding Dockside to its calls but not extending to Bulimba.
After much talk, the Brisbane City Council CityCats commenced on 4 November 1996 with a 30 minute frequency. The service frequency was increased to 20 minutes in peak hours and Sundays by mid 1997. The CityCats are definitely faster, even allowing for additional stops, as the following table (in minutes) shows:
|From Hamilton To:||Golden Mile||City Cat|
|New Farm Park||-||15|
Even though the CityCats are fast, the winding course of the Brisbane River means that it is faster to travel by bus from Hamilton or Toowong to the city centre. The route 170 bus from Hamilton takes 18 minutes to Queen Street, and the route 512 another 13 minutes on to Toowong. However nothing beats a ferry for relaxing travel!
This month we continue our occasional series on why people collect timetables. Life Member Jack McLean shares his reasons with us.
On 13 November 1993, I was one of about twenty speakers at the Melbourne Conference of the Ephemera Society of Australia Inc. In a session entitled "Who, What and Why - The Rationale Behind Their Collections" I was allowed seven minutes to more or less answer the question, "Why do I collect railway timetables?"
I think readers will agree that seven minutes was scarcely enough time. I needed to keep to the essentials. So I had to give the subject very careful thought. The notes I used were based on something I had written for The Times a few years earlier. The talk seemed to be successful so I re-wrote the notes into the form of an article for the First Edition, the news magazine of the National Association of Timetable Collectors in USA. It was published in 1994. This is still the gist of my explanation when I am asked the question "Why do I collect railway timetables?"
The definition of ephemera seems to include any article that is produced for short term use - something which will be discarded very soon when another version turns up. Railway timetables were (and are) certainly in that category because they were not intended to be used for very long and then would probably be consigned to the waste paper basket or somewhere for repulping.
The fact that they are ephemera is not the reason for my collecting them. As a sort of railway historian, I know that each one of them is a cross section of some railway somewhere at a particular date. If I can collect enough of them, I can build a continuous picture of the development and activities of that railway. But why a railway?
I can never remember when I was not interested in trains. My father was a railwayman, but he was interested only in playing bowls. When I asked him how the railway worked, his refusal to answer piqued my curiosity. If anything, it increased my interest in railways and at the same time strengthened my determination never to play bowls.
I don't know when I started to collect timetables. Perhaps it was when I was going to High School by train every day. At that time I kept only the current items and threw out those which were out of date. These days I wish I still had the ones I had thrown out.
The 1939 - 1945 War years, when it was said the "Enemy Listens", would not seem to have been a good time to ask railway blokes about time tables, but I did. However, I was careful not to flash them about. When I was in the Army, I usually had the Special Train Notices for the troop train I travelled on.
After a couple of years in the Army, I surprised everyone, including myself, by joining the Air Force. As a result I went around the world, incidentally without a passport, and picked up timetables in all sorts of places. After landing at Los Angeles, I spent four days on two troop trains getting to Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. I still have the Employees Timetables and some of the Train Orders for this journey. Particularly now, they are of immense interest and certainly valuable.
My knowledge of the Canadian prairie railways and what Canadian railway facilities looked like resulted in my doing extraordinarily well in a subject called aerial reconnaissance.
While on leave, before going to USA, I went to a lot of trouble to get an Employees Timetable for my journey from Buffalo, NY to New York City. Because of this timetable, I seemed to know more about the journey than even local American passengers. One of them offered me five dollars if I could tell him within a minute the time the train (running 28 minutes late) would actually arrive in Schenectady. I did tell him and I assure readers the five dollars made the difference between a spartan visit and a comfortable one.
Across the Atlantic in the UK, I was surprised to find how easy it was to get "Working Timetables" - the timetables the railways have for their own use with information like lists of signal boxes and times of goods trains. I maintained my reputation by having three Working Timetables on my first day in the UK. I kept up the good work to such an extent that when I arrived home in 1946, I found I had sent home or brought home about 120 pounds weight of railway items. To mail them home at concession postage had cost £5 pounds in English money.
On the troop ship coming home, we were not allowed ashore in Port Said, so I wrote then and there to the Egyptian State Railways for a Rule Book, a General Appendix and a Timetable. I was delighted when the Egyptian parcel arrived in Melbourne a few months after I did.
Writing to railway companies (in those days anyway) seemed to be a good way of helping the collection along a bit. So in the next year or two, I wrote to about 50 railway companies and about half of them came good. At first I wrote only in English but later dug out my High School French. It was then I found that no matter how poorly I wrote in that language, the request at least got an answer. Frequently it included what I asked for. My High School French resulted in parcels turning up from France, Tunisia and Ethiopia. If I had known there would be, some time, a use for learning the language I might have done better than my Intermediate 54%.
The Railways of Mozambique replied with a letter written in English and sent some items which looked interesting but were in the Portuguese language. I bought myself a "Teach Yourself Portuguese" and a Portuguese dictionary. My self-taught language skills could not have been all that bad as I eventually received timetables from Portugal itself as well as Angola and Brazil.
After I retired, I found out about the National Association of Timetable Collectors based in USA. Over the years I have corresponded with a number of timetable collectors in America and Canada. One member was an expatriate Englishman in New York to whom I sent a Rhodesian Working Timetable. In return he sent me Employee Timetables from Cuba and Burma. There were six countries involved in that transaction. Timetables still turn up from far away places.
When I decided to start the Australian Association of Timetable Collectors, the Americans gave me lots of good advice, among which was "Get a good editor and run a regular magazine". Luckily we were able to do that.
Over the years I have had dozens of interesting questions about timetables. The questions come from the Railways themselves, the State Library, from people writing histories, novels, stories, from makers of TV programmes as well as from other railway enthusiasts. "When did we increase the speed limit between A and B?" asked a friend in the Railways. He knew I could find it quicker in my collection of Working Timetables than he could. "Did troop trains ever run via Tocumwal?" asked a TV studio making "The Sullivans". Answer: Yes. I have several Special Train Notices for them. "Could my mother have travelled from Nathalia to Queenscliff in one day in 1930?" asked the son of a lady writing her life story. Answer: again Yes. I quoted from my own Working Time-tables and suggested he ask to look at Bradshaws Guide in the State Library.
I am one of many people who started collecting something without realising that I was starting. After a while whether I have liked it or not, I have become some sort of authority on this subject and instead of me asking the questions, I answer them. I had an enquiry from ARE many years ago, "We are going to Indonesia. Have you got any maps and timetables?" And so I found my copy of the US Army Recce Report. "Have you got any railway rule books where the rules change at a state or international border?" My friend in Vancouver, BC, had already written to me on this subject with some instances on the Burlington Northern in BC. Some years back, I had a telephone enquiry "We have a lot of old timetables here. Would you like to suggest what we should do with them?" My suggestion resulted in one library being able to give away some of its surplus to another library.
For a long time now, I have realised I belong to a sort of world wide club of people who run trains or talk or write about them. The railway friendships I made during World War Two kept me out of a fair amount of trouble one way or another - because they enabled me to withstand the boredom. And in peacetime I have found that doing enthusiastically these unnecessary things has enabled me to put up with the often hum drum business of living. For something like 60 years it has been an enormous amount of fun which looks like continuing.
Where we welcome your feedback, views and comments on The Times and timetabling issues.
1) Victor Isaacs - Reactions of transport operators to requests for sets of their timetables.
David Hennell's letter in the March issue (The Times No 168, March 1998) about unsympathetic reactions of operators to timetable collectors seeking to obtain timetables was very interesting.
This difficulty is the reason I prefer timetables to cost money rather than be free! I have found that if one approaches an enquiry counter and asks for a complete set of free timetables, the usual reaction is that you are trying to take advantage of freebies and they try not to give you their precious timetables. However, when one approaches a counter and asks for a complete set of timetables and proffers money for them, the reaction is that your willingness to pay proves your genuineness and the timetables are therefore readily forthcoming.
If David and others have had bad experiences from time to time obtaining one complete set of timetables, imagine the reactions I have sometimes experienced when as AATTC Distribution Officer I have sometimes asked for 10 or more complete sets of timetables!
The best example I have encountered of the advantage of timetables costing money occurred once with V/Line at Spencer Street station in Melbourne just after they had reissued all their public timetables. I approached the enquiry counter and said something like "I would like 20 copies of all 6 of your timetables please and here is my money to pay for them." The reaction was "If you are willing to pay for that many, you must be genuine. Therefore I am not going to charge you at all, and secondly I will give you about 30 copies each." This was a wonderful and unexpectedly generous reaction. The only remaining problem was then to get all these home to Canberra!
Victor Isaacs, Kingston, A.C.T.
2) David Hennell - Multiple border crossings on Australian transport services.
In Australia, we can't match the border-crossing services shown in Victor Isaacs' article in the March issue (The Times No 168, March 1998 pages 1 & 4) as we have so few borders relative to our area. Given that our railways don't hog borders, I've had to look for road services that qualify for multiple border crossings.
The best Australian long distance service that I've seen is PTC (V/Line)'s Murray Link Albury - Mildura bus which changes State five times: between Albury & Wodonga, Wahgunyah & Corowa, Mulwala & Yarrawonga, Robinvale & Euston and Buronga (not an official stop) & Mildura.
My runner up is another PTC (V/Line) service - the Bendigo to Mildura Sunlink on its once weekly routing via Balranald which crosses four times - between Piangil & Tooleybuc, Balranald & Robinvale, Robinvale & Euston and Buronga (also not a stop) & Mildura. SRA (Countrylink)'s Cootamundra - Mildura bus (Mildura again!) manages three crossings - these being Balranald & Robinvale, Robinvale & Euston and Buronga (a genuine stop this time) & Mildura.
Given the spread of the population along the Murray Valley, it isn't surprising that this region figures so prominently.
David Hennell, Surrey Hills, Vic.
3) Tom Greco - Keep timetable collecting from becoming a "rich person's hobby."
I was absolutely delighted with the February issue of The Times, which arrived here February 23. You have illustrated the "human" side of timetable collecting. I'm sure there are as many reasons for collecting timetables as there are collectors, and I do enjoy hearing others tell about the source of their joy/affliction/addiction in the hobby!
I especially resonated to your thoughts (The Times No. 167, February 1998 Editorial p3) about making timetables available to more people. It is my sincere hope that we can keep timetable collecting from becoming a "rich person's hobby." I am afraid, however, that it may have become that already if one is interested in collecting "vintage" issues. Prices for old timetables have escalated materially in the last 3-5 years. I notice this in our auction lists as well as in sale lists I get from people here in the States.
In the year I've been a member, I've taken great joy in AATTC's monthly mailings. I'm fortunate enough to work less than two miles from home, which allows me to get home for lunch each day. With nobody else at home but Mr. Peanut, my tomcat, I eat quickly and spend as much time as possible practising my music (I play and sing railroad music!). But when our monthly mailings arrive, Ivanhoe the Guitar (named for my favourite spot on the Colorado Midland Railway) gets a well deserved rest, as I sit and read as much as time will permit before returning to work!
Please continue these "personal" articles, it's great to get to know fellow collectors in other lands. It's a reminder to me of the many more ways people are alike than different!
Tom Greco, Duncanville, Texas, U.S.A.
(Ed: Thankyou for your encouraging letter about The Times. [In the short period Tom has been a member he has also become a valued contributor to AATTC's Distribution List.] Regarding your comments about timetables becoming a "rich person's hobby" I agree wholeheartedly. I too am in this for love and not money.)
4) Duncan MacAuslan - Sydney's Last Tramway Working Timetable
Keep going, the February edition (The Times No. 167, February 1998) is excellent!
I'd like to refer back to an article in The Times, No. 159, June 1997 about "Sydney's Last Tramway Working Timetable" and my Letter to the Editor published in Table Talk in August 1997 (when letters about articles in The Times were published in Table Talk).
As acknowledged, the real last Sydney tram timetable used was no. 187 effective 29 October, 1960 for Saturdays. I've subsequently come across a copy of the document which covered the transition. It is the DGT's (Department of Government Transport - Ed) "Special Bus and Tram Notice No. 2" issued 24 February 1961. This 40 page document almost deserves an article of its own but the relevance to the above article are the timings of the last trams which are shown on page 3 of the document (this is shown below).
Even though the 2.59pm (run 617) departure from Maroubra Beach to Railway Square was the last scheduled departure, it was timed to arrive at its destination at 3.33pm, one minute before the 2.48pm (run 624) from Hunter Street arrived at La Perouse at 3.34pm. In fact this last scheduled trip was run by three cars and even though running "SPECIAL" carried enthusiasts back to Robertson Road.
Duncan MacAuslan, Rozelle, N.S.W.
5) Alan Cohn - Queanbeyan - Melbourne - Queanbeyan trains in 1940/41.
At an advanced age, I am an interested but not a very active member of the AATTC. My interest in timetables goes back a long way, but more as a reader than as a collector. The article by Victor Isaacs "From My Timetable Collection" (The Times No. 167, February 1998) which covered the NSWGR Country Timetable 15 October 1905 stirred a memory that may be of interest.
From 1939 to 1943 I was a naval rating stationed at Harman Naval W/T Station, located in the 'V' between the junction of the Canberra and Cooma lines. By that time, of course, the line represented by the 1905 timetable had a branch to Canberra. In 1940/41 I followed the scheme outlined below.
The staff at Harman worked a series of 'watches' which rotated every fourth week. (It may be mentioned here that a group working together on a particular 'watch' or roster was also called a 'watch'). The rotation of watches was such that, if a group set down to work the Saturday morning watch (0200-0800) could get a 'sub' from the watch due to work the Saturday afternoon watch (1200-1800) the former could have free time from 2000 Friday to 1600 Monday. Thus for Melbourne 'natives' it was possible to have a weekend of 27 hours in Melbourne, once every four weeks.
My memory is that we caught a passenger train from Canberra at Queanbeyan about 2045 on Friday. This set down at Goulburn about 2315 and, especially in winter, we enjoyed a coal fire in the waiting room as we waited for the train called the 'Second Division of the Melbourne Express' sometime about 2345.
At Albury we would catch the Albury Express although some dashed on to the Spirit of Progress as it pulled out. This was stopped for servicemen, under threat of a severe penalty. We arrived at Melbourne about 1315 Saturday. On the way back we left by the Albury Express about 1615 Sunday, caught the Second Division from Albury, and arrived Goulburn about 0625 for a freezing morning and execrable coffee. From platform 3, I think, a mixed train set off at 0700 for Canberra and we were met by a naval vehicle at Queanbeyan. At that time I was not 'educated' in NSW locos and carriages, but often we must have had a 30 class that hauled the mixed up the hill from Bungendore at a very slow pace. We felt as though we could hop off, pick flowers, and jump back on. Most mornings we had a 'dog box' carriage, not at all comfortable or warm, and were glad to arrive at Queanbeyan. The return trip cost a serviceman five shillings (50 cents)!
A sleeping car was shunted from the Melbourne Express to the mixed, running from Albury to Canberra. Sometimes, if the passenger loading was light, two shillings to the conductor would secure a couple of us a sleeping cabin, but without bedclothes to keep us warm, but it was better than sitting up all night.
I would be interested if someone could tell me something about the locos, carriages and times that would have applied on these trains at that time.
Alan Cohn, Ormond, Victoria.
(Ed: This letter created much interest among some members on our Editorial Team. In response to the request in the last sentence of Alan's letter, two of our Editorial Team members, Bob Ritchie and Victor Isaacs have written answers which appear on the following pages. If readers are able to supply any additional information to answer Alan's request or have some timetable related experiences of other journeys they would like to share, I would be pleased to publish them.)
5a) Bob Ritchie - Some answers to Alan Cohn's letter
I think I can throw some light on Alan's comments. His memory is fairly accurate about the times. The train on which he travelled from Queanbeyan to Goulburn also included the through carriage that he recalls for the return journey and would have been available for travel to Albury without having to change at Goulburn. It was a CAM composite 12 wheel vehicle with four or five twin sleeping compartments similar to the standard NSW TAM sleeping cars, together with two first and two second class sitting compartments each accommodating six and eight people. The dog box carriage he mentions would have been of the LFX standard non-corridor second class type or its composite variant the CX.
A lot of younger readers may not be aware that a change of trains was mandatory at Albury due to the break of gauge at that time. Perhaps that should be mentioned.
The Spirit of Progress was a compulsory booked train. The Victorian Railways would have taken a dim view of any unbooked passengers trying to board at Albury at the last minute because it ran non-stop to Melbourne and they could not be put off along the way. The Albury Express ran to take the overflow and serve other places along the line not served by the Spirit.
I think it is doubtful the loco on the mixed was a 30 class. It is much more likely to have been a 32 class. The 30s tended to be allotted to branches west of the Great Dividing Ranges where gradients were not so severe.
Bob Ritchie, Fairlight, N.S.W.
5b) Victor Isaacs - More answers to Alan Cohn's letter and some information about the Victorian Railways' timetable of 15/12/41.
The closest timetables I can find that mention some of the times in Alan's very interesting letter are the Victorian Railways' Country Lines Public Timetable of 15 December 1941 and the NSW Country Public Timetable of 12 October 1941. I have chosen some pages from the Victorian one (these are shown on pages 13 to 15) as it includes the unusual feature of one state's timetable comprehensively including lines in another state.
There are a number of interesting features in this Victorian timetable:
* One timetable shows both a peak of services, and the start of a rapid decline of services. Country railway services in Victoria had shown a gradual improvement from the first country lines to Geelong, Ballarat and Bendigo in the 1860s right through until 1941. In particular, the improvements were significant in the 1930s under Commissioner Clapp. Services had never been as good as in this timetable of 15 December 1941. Of interest is that eight days before the date of this timetable - on 7 December 1941, the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbour, and the War became very serious for Australia. Immediately, the Victorian Railways moved to restrict some services to release resources for military traffic. Hence, the notice pasted on the front cover of the timetable (shown on page 13) advising that Sunday trains were cancelled.
* The Victorian public timetables in this period gave a complete coverage of lines in southern New South Wales (see page 14 for an example of this). I cannot find any other example of such a comprehensive coverage in an interstate timetable. Strangely, there was no similar coverage of the neighbouring South Australian lines. Presumably the times in this Victorian timetable of December 1941 were taken from the New South Welsh timetable of October 1941.
* The VR public timetables of this period were so dedicated to the "Read Down, Read Up" layout, that it was even used where the "Read Up" occupies an entire page (see page 15 for an example).
* This was the last Victorian country public timetable for 13 years. In a most misguided wartime economy move, they were discontinued and not published again until 1954! There were however Victoria-wide passenger only working timetables published in 1951, 1953 and 1954 as a substitute staff reference timetable. Elsewhere in the 1941 timetable there is a suggestion to keep it up-to-date from newspaper advertisements of alterations. Imagine a conscientious member of the public with 13 years of alterations handwritten all over this timetable!
The times of the trains Alan recalls in his letter are slower than in this 1941 timetable. Doubtless, trains had been slowed to deal with other wartime priorities.
Victor Isaacs, Kingston, A.C.T.
This month, Graphic Insight looks at the development of Australian interstate passenger rail services over the past six decades by comparing the journey times on key routes.
The data for this analysis was taken from the following timetables: Bradshaw's Guide to Victoria, November 1936; Victorian Railways Country Time-Table, 17 July 1961; New South Wales Government Railways Country Time-Table, 17 October 1965; Victorian Railways Train Times - Country & Interstate, 7 November 1977; V/Line Timetables for Victorian and Interstate Services, February 1987; Countrylink Train and Coach Timetables North Coast Region and Southern Region 26 October 1997; Great Southern Railway Web Home Page Timetables, effective 1 July 1997; Queensland Railways Traveltrain Timetable - The Queenslander, 13 January 1997.
The overall trend for all routes is that journey times are becoming faster. This has been facilitated by upgraded track (Trans-continental, Alice Springs and Melbourne-Albury gauge standardisation removing breaks of gauge, and Brisbane-Rockhampton electrification and track rebuilding), introduction of faster XPT trains on the Melbourne-Sydney and Sydney-Brisbane routes and elimination of stops at smaller wayside towns on many routes.
Perhaps surprisingly, even the much maligned Adelaide-Melbourne route is now faster than in the past in spite of recent lengthening of The Overland's route, although this route has shown the least impressive improvements of all. With the introduction of the XPT onto the Melbourne-Sydney run, that route re-gains from Adelaide-Melbourne the title of the shortest end-to-end journey time of all the routes analysed here despite being almost 200km longer.
Note the occasional regressions to slower timings. For example Adelaide to Sydney is now slower than in 1977 even though the 1977 timetable required a change of trains at Peterborough! Similarly the Perth to Adelaide schedule is now slower than in 1987. Note also the decay of "The Ghan" in 1977 immediately prior to its conversion to standard gauge, and the slowing of the "Brisbane Limited" in 1987 before its replacement by an XPT.
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