(As a teenager the Editor lived in Sydney and during many holidays would travel by train to Melbourne to visit relatives and ride the swing door trains, the Tait trains and trams, something which Sydney didn't have. On some occasions it was necessary to travel on the second and even third divisions of some trains due to the high number of passengers travelling. Here Bob Ritchie [one of our Editorial Team members] writes about one such holiday period in Easter 1965 when thirteen trains operated in one day between the capitals - a far different situation from today when there are only four train services per day between the capitals, even in holiday periods. Ed)
Going through some old papers recently I came across a 208 page booklet printed for internal distribution by Victorian Railways to cover special and amended operations for Easter 1965. The section which particularly caught my eye covers the interstate standard gauge arrangements. This was only three years after the opening of the through standard gauge service between our two most populous cities. Copies of the four relevant pages accompany this article.
Clearly, there was much traffic offering. Readers will see that departing Melbourne on Thursday 15 April, in addition to the Intercapital Daylight at 8.40am and the two regular overnight trains Spirit of Progress and Southern Aurora and Spirit of Progress at 6.45pm and 8.00pm, there were no fewer than five specials departing at 5.10pm, 5.45pm, 9.40pm, 10.30pm and 10.50pm. A total of eight northbound departures. Moreover, the next morning, Friday 16 April, there was an additional division at 7.45am of the Intercapital Daylight which ran daily except Sunday. (Only during January did it run daily.)
Things were not quite so hectic southbound, with only one extra overnight service departing at 8.20pm after the two regular expresses. However, there was an extra division of the Intercapital Daylight at 8.05am, making five southbound departures. Thus, a total of thirteen trains operated between the capitals that day!
The three regularly operated expresses were fully air-conditioned. The Southern Aurora was built for the service in 1962. The Spirit of Progress consisted mainly of Victorian cars built in the 50s and 60s, and each set included either one or two sleepers the same as those on the Southern Aurora, as well as a buffet car dating from the 30s. It also had a Victorian composite through car to/from Canberra four nights per week, attached/detached at Goulburn. The Intercapital Daylight consisted of NSW RUB sets from the 50s. The additional car sets, supplied by NSW, would have consisted mainly of 1930s vintage non-air-conditioned BS and FS steel bodied first and second class corridor sitting cars, supplemented with older wooden bodied corridor stock, dating mostly from the 20s. There were also wooden bodied, non-air-conditioned TAM twin berth cabin sleepers on some of the overnight specials. I recall additional divisions of the Intercapital Daylight included an AB wooden bodied dining car. Most of the wooden cars were carried on two six wheel bogies. The extra overnight trains had no on-board refreshments. Passengers could obtain these from the Railway Refreshment Rooms at Albury and Moss Vale, depending on the hours at which these points were passed.
This happened just over 30 years ago but, my, how things have changed. Now in NSW there is virtually no spare rollingstock to provide extra services. My perception is that the position is much the same in Victoria. In any event, how would our railways cope with such masses of people, not to mention the staffing and other logistics necessary to support movements of that volume over long distances?
Shown opposite is the cover of the December 1979 timetable for the Brisbane City Council bus route 160 that used to operate to Brisbane Airport with a 25 minute frequency. That service no longer operates. The Council recently operated a Route 300 bus service from Eagle Jct. via Toombul to the Airport which has also ceased operation.
(Tom Greco is one of our overseas members who lives in Duncanville, Texas, U.S.A. We welcome his first article for The Times as he writes about his interest in timetables and how he started collecting them.)
Shown on pages nine and ten are extracts from a timetable I treasure. It's not my favourite timetable but it is significant because it was my very first employees' timetable (that's what we Yanks call working timetables!).
I can't remember a time when I wasn't wild about railroading. I was born in a Baltimore row house which overlooked the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad, and quite literally, from the time I was born I saw trains. In my very early teenage years I remember picking up public timetables at the depot. But little did I know that another type of timetable existed! In the summer of 1961 my curiosity was piqued by a reference to "employees' timetables" in a Railroad Model Craftsman Magazine.
As a frequent local rider on the many passenger trains then running, I had many chances to ask questions of railroaders. By that time (I had just turned 14), I was living in Omaha, and made regular treks across the Missouri River to Council Bluffs, Iowa, by train. This four mile interstate journey cost a whole 25 cents, which, even at that, was sometimes hard to eke out of my parents to spend on such foolishness as riding trains solely for the sake of riding trains. Returning from "The Bluffs" on 3rd August, 1961 I asked the Burlington conductor "what's an employees' timetable?" He opened his jacket to display a most official looking document labeled "Ottumwa Division" with a large numeral "4"emblazoned on the front.
Instead of getting off at Omaha, I stayed on C.B. & Q. Train 7 for the trip to Chalco, Nebraska, exactly 14.62 miles west of Omaha. I was intrigued by the name, as well as by the fact that a town whose population was listed at 32 people would boast an active station with an agent, at which local Trains 7 & 8 would stop if someone wished to get on or off there. Disembarking at Chalco, the agent's first words to me were "are you lost?'. I said "is this Chalco?", and when he answered in the affirmative, I told him "then I'm not lost!", which surprised him even more!
A few minutes later I learned that this was Aaron Benash, who with his wife Marcia, lived in the second floor of the Chalco depot. He was nearing the end of a long career with the Burlington. I asked Aaron the same question - "what's an employees' timetable?', and he showed me the current Lincoln Division issue. This time I had the presence of mind to ask how I could get a copy, and my new friend offered to get one for me.
It was an agonising 4-6 weeks before a call came one day from Aaron saying that he had my timetable if I could get to Chalco again. Could I ever get to Chalco! I got there many times over the next several years, sometimes arriving on trains that normally breezed through at 70 mph, but stopped this day to let off a kid by special arrangement between Aaron Benash and the dispatcher in Lincoln. Nobody ever complained or called me a "foamer" (or a "gunzel"!), and Aaron taught me about a way of life that I didn't realise was coming to an end. Not only did he present me with my first employees' timetable, but with a large volume which he called simply The Official Guide, listing all passenger schedules in the U.S., Canada and Mexico.
Little did Aaron know what he'd sparked! I was and continue to be enthralled by employees' timetables. The clean, easy-to-read style, the beautiful symmetry and organisation of data, and of course, the arcane information that admits the bearer to "the inner circle" in terms of knowledge. And there was the proud division name and that wonderful number on the cover, which so few railroads inscribe in such large font these days.
I was hooked indeed, and wondered if every railroad published such documents. In my Official Guide, I found division superintendents listed, and many of them responded to a kid's handwritten plea by sending their current timetable. Then I began wondering if other countries' railroads issued employees' timetables. In 1966, a package from England apprised me of the fact that everyone but Americans knew these as working timetables. A letter to Australia (I can't remember to which railroad) circa 1965 was answered with a polite but terse "we don't give those out to the public", but my curiosity remained.
It took until 1996, but I did finally get a working timetable from "Oz", courtesy of my dear friend Bob Lawrence, an NRC driver from Dimboola, Victoria who eventually granted me honorary Victorian citizenship! I received a flyer advertising an AATTC auction, which brought me several more issues, after which I joined AATTC, having been a member of the National Association of Timetable Collectors here in the U.S. since 1968.
As I write this (February 1998), my list of employees' timetables numbers 2,242. Not bad for just over 36 years' work! I did start buying timetables early on, but still most of my timetables were given to me by railroaders for the asking. These range from the Akron, Canton & Youngstown RR to an issue sent me by the National Railways of Zimbabwe last year! My pride and joy is an 1892 issue from my favourite railroad, the Colorado Midland Railway.
That old Lincoln Division timetable No. 6 dated 30 October, 1960 was in perfect condition when Aaron Benash gave it to me. But today it shows the signs of hard use. The cover is bordered by cellophane tape stains from an ill-conceived attempt to protect my prize with a cover of clear plastic "sandwich wrap". And here are the times for trips out of Omaha behind 2-8-2 No. 4960, which operated in Burlington excursion service during the 60's. And there's Chalco at milepost 31.37, with Train 8's flagstop shown at 5.20pm, when I'd reluctantly bid my mentor good-bye until next trip.
Aaron Benash retired in 1969, and died shortly thereafter. He never knew that I "hired out" in 1971 with the Missouri Pacific Railroad in Omaha as a clerk, for a while holding a job as a small town station agent (at Crete, Nebraska) just like he did. Maybe he'd have even been proud to see me promoted to Trainmaster in 1982 and put in charge of the "MOP's" Dallas Terminal. And I know he'd have understood why I left the railroad in 1984. Of one well liked railroad officer, he said "he was too good for 'em!", meaning railroad officialdom in general.
But I think Aaron Benash would be (and probably is!) especially proud of my interest in employees' timetables, and collection which his gift to a young boy started. Thanks, Aaron!!
This timetable has been reduced to 85% of the original size so it will fit on this page. The black around the borders of the timetable are a result of the cellophane tape stains which Tom refers to in his article in an attempt to protect the cover of his first "employees' timetable" with plastic "sandwich wrap". We can all learn from this that it is not the best way to preserve the covers of valuable timetables! Also notice under the date that it instructs recipients of the timetable to "Destroy all timetables of previous date". What a great opportunity for timetable collectors to relieve railroad employees of all their old timetables!
This timetable has been reduced to 85% of the original size so it will fit on this page. The times pencilled in are the times for trips from Omaha behind steam locomotive No. 4960 which operated in Burlington excursion service during the 1960's. Also note that the milepost of 31.37 for Chalco is shown on the left hand side of the station name. Shown in the above timetable is the "f" stop (flag stop) of 5.20 pm at Chalco for Train No. 8 which Tom refers to in his article.
In The Times No. 170, May 1998 p4 I noted the large size of the timetables issued by the South Aust. Railways. During WW2 they issued small pocket size timetable books as shown opposite. This is the actual size! It is 108 pages and contains messages to "Eliminate Unnecessary Travel. Troops, guns, equipment, and food come first." The cover is a dark colour so I apologise for the reproduction quality - it's the size I really want to show. Editor.
1) Mark Peterson - Penfield line trains in the Sth Aust. Railways Public Timetable of 1/11/53,
I found the lead article (The Times No. 170, May 1998 p3 to 8) very interesting. The South Australian Railways public timetable of 1st November, 1953 contains quite a few gems, but what caught my interest was the Adelaide - Penfield table. Given that the track layout consisted of three stations and a balloon loop, the forward and return times didn't make sense.
Following the table (see page 12), the 6.28 am Down Penfield train leaves Salisbury at 7.03 am, and diverges onto the branch for Hilra at 7.05 am, Penfield No. 1 at 7.08 am, No. 2 at 7.12 am, No. 3 at 7.15 am. Presumably the train then forms an Up service to Adelaide. Perusing the Up table, an Up service leaves No. 1 at 7.33 am, No. 2 at 7.36 am, No. 3 at 7.39 am, Hilra at 7.41 am before returning to the mainline at Salisbury at 7.44 am. For a train to travel through 1,2,3, then 1,2, and 3 again on the Up trip would require a set back move to be made. This would defeat the whole purpose of providing a balloon loop although the stations would only need one face.
If this was the case the Down times at No. 1, 2 and 3 should be identical to those on the up trip. This can be explained by a Down train arriving at No. 1 would then also begin its Up journey. This would mean it is a combined Down and Up train as far as No. 3 where the Down trip terminates (similar to the Melbourne underground loop service where an Up Glen Waverley loop train becomes a Down Glen Waverley loop train once it reaches Parliament [apologies to those readers not familiar with the Melbourne underground rail loop service]). As the times were different at the Penfield stations, I looked a bit further.
The next option would be three 2-faced platforms with a balloon loop between Penfield No. 3 platform 2 and Penfield No. 3 platform 1. This seemed like a more logical track layout but the timetable didn't reflect this arrangement.
After discussing this with a fellow member, we compared the 1/11/53 timetable with the public timetable of 4/7/71 (shown on page 12). To our surprise, the format of the table had changed. Down trains are shown as going through Penfield No. 1, No. 2 and then No. 3. The return trip is shown as originating at Penfield No. 3, then No. 2 and finally No. 1 before heading back to Adelaide. The mystery had been solved. The two timetables are shown together on the next page.
Shown above is the morning timetable from 1st November, 1953
Shown above is the morning timetable from 4th July, 1971
As can be seen by comparing the above tables a simple typesetting error caused a mystery 45 years later. I wonder if any munitions workers were caught out and missed their train home!
Mark Peterson, Corio, Vic.
(Ed: Re the track diagrams in this letter, Penfield No.1, 2 & 3 in real life were island platforms.)
2) Paul Nicholson - Social history in timetables & does timetable collecting have a future?
I've enjoyed the change of tone in The Times since you have been editor. I particularly enjoy the social history type articles such as Victor's piece on the eating habits of times gone by as gleaned from the pages of timetables (The Times No. 167, February 1998 pp.6 to 8).
We could be caught, however, by this approach as sometimes changes to the timetables lagged far behind social changes. A good example of this would be the lack of (or very little) Sunday morning transport in Adelaide until relatively recent times. This practice was started due to the majority of the citizenry attending church on Sunday mornings however with changes in society this is no longer the case. Changes to the transport timetables did not occur immediately so there was a time lag and we need to ensure we allow for this when making social history observations from timetables.
Another example where we need to allow for a time lag is with Melbourne Sunday tram timetables which until recent years had a half hour service in the morning while people went to church and returned home for their roast dinner. The service was then increased to a 20 minute frequency after about 1.30 pm when everyone went out to visit Aunt Myrtle. It went back to a 30 minute frequency about 6.00 pm after everyone came home from Aunt Myrtle's.
Now a few lines on why I am downsizing my collection! After 30 years collecting all sorts of transport material (often at the expense of "field" work) and suffering from information overload, one asks the question: what is the point?
There is a market for material (especially through the ATA), so where there are people who are prepared to purchase one's excess "baggage" and are prepared to pay, why not? You know that the items are going to good homes and to someone who will value them.
I noticed at the A.R.H.S. flea market last year that people didn't seem to browse. They either knew exactly what they were looking for or they weren't interested. No half measures. They were older folk, hardly anyone under 50 and virtually no one under 40. One of the Melbourne fans has said "it's a one-and-a-half generation hobby - the 'baby boomers' and the 'pioneers' that preceded them." (ie. those who developed their interests in the 60s and 70s, with the few from the 50s and perhaps a bit earlier).
There are virtually no young people getting interested so, in the next 10 to 20 years, the older baby boomers will have all this junk that no one will want.
Paul Nicholson, Mitcham, Vic.
(Ed: "junk that no one will want"!!!!???? Are we really going to end up as the AAJC (Aust. Assn. of Junk Collectors)? Would someone like to respond? In fact Paul raises a serious issue which is currently being considered by some kindred organisations. For example the NSW School Railway Clubs Assn. in the June 1998 edition of their publication Railway Newsletter (p3) advises readers that due to "a declining school student interest in railways, the continuance of the NSW School Railway Clubs Association and this magazine is accordingly under review... There appears to be no continuing need for a NSW School Railway Clubs Association." If you have some ideas about the future of timetable collecting I would be pleased to publish them.)
3) Brian Webber - What makes a good timetable?
In the May issue (The Times No. 170, May, 1998 p3 item 3) you asked readers "what makes a good timetable?"
I was intrigued by this question as I suspect that the Editor has confused the word "timetable" with the word "service". According to my World Book dictionary, a timetable is "a schedule showing when (transport) arrives and departs; any list or schedule of the times things are to be done or happen" while a service is "(a) helpful act; conduct helpful to others; arrangements for supply; advantage; benefit".
What makes a good timetable in my opinion is that it be pocket-size with large print which enables it to be read in dim light. It should contain a route map and a fare schedule with details of any discounts available. It should also indicate such information as whether bicycles and animals are welcome and what facilities are available at stations (or stops). It should indicate connections to other forms of public transport.
What makes a good service in my opinion is one that fulfils the reasonable expectations of the majority of potential travellers and which can be provided economically by an operator.
Brian Webber, Keperra, Qld.
(Ed: Thank you for your response to the question in my editorial. When I asked the question "what makes a good timetable" I had in mind both service levels and presentation of that information as I believe they go hand in hand. My thinking on the issue is that a poorly laid out timetable that is hard to understand or conveys too few details can have a similar result to a well presented timetable for a poor level of service. For example, I travel to work each day by train from Salisbury, Qld (where I live) to Roma Street. When I first moved to Salisbury at the end of 1992 there were trains from Salisbury to Roma Street at 7.01am, 7.14am, 7.23am, 7.42am, 7.48am and 8.01am (6 services) and timetables distributed were on a plain single spreadsheet without much detail that was just folded up. The current timetable (effective 1st June 1998) is a 38 page booklet with lots of detail but has trains departing Salisbury at 7.04am, 7.30am, 7.40am, 7.46am and 8.08am (5 services). Notice how that even though there is now a 38 page booklet with a multi-coloured map, some ticket-fares information (and even train service numbers) that in fact the service level has deteriorated. Firstly there is one train less and secondly they are not evenly spaced (three now come within 16 minutes after a gap of 26 minutes followed by another gap of 22 minutes after the three trains). Despite better presentation in the current timetable there was a reduction in patronage from Salisbury after the service level was reduced. Therefore it seems that the skill transport operators require with their timetables is to provide both good presentation and good service levels . I welcome further responses on this issue and encourage readers to submit some examples of good and bad timetables as I would be happy to include extracts from them in The Times.)
4) Howard Girdler - Comparison of Journey Times of Trans-Continental Trains.
Using various timetables, mostly 3-5 years old, I rambled through them comparing the journey times of various trans-continental trains.
The Indian Pacific leaves Sydney on Day 1 at 1440. On Day 2 it is in Adelaide from 1625 until 1800 (allow +30 mins for the time zone change EST to CST). On Day 3 it is at Cook 1107 (CST) to 0910 (WST) so allow +90 mins. It arrives Perth the next morning at 0700 if it is on time. The elapsed time = 64 hrs, 20 mins. As the crow flies the distance is about 3,240 km so its effective speed for through passengers is around 50 kph. Yes, I realise that the rail distance is further than this, but the opposition (the airlines) are able to fly direct on a great circle route and diversions are things that rail operators have to live with.
The Thomas Cook Overseas Timetable tells us that the Trans Siberian departs Moscow on Day 1 at 1425. It reaches Krasnoyarsk at 0620 on the fourth day which is about the same as the crow flies distance as is travelled by the Indian Pacific. The elapsed time = 63 hrs. The effective speed = 51.5 km/h.
The Empire Builder leaves Chicago at 1515 on Day 1 and reaches Seattle at 1035 on Day 3 (an as the crow flies distance of about 2,700 km). The elapsed time = 43 hours, to which should be added 3 hrs for time zone changes, giving an overall average of 58 km/h. This is of course better than the other two examples, but the Empire Builder does not travel as far. To extend the journey to around the distance of the Indian Pacific, we could leave Pittsburgh at midnight, arrive Chicago at 0900, travelling an extra 630 km as the crow flies then wait until 1515 to transfer to the Empire Builder, which would considerably reduce the overall speed of the journey.
Perhaps a better example would be The Canadian which leaves Montreal at 1115 and arrives at Vancouver at 0825 on the fourth day - an as the crow flies distance of 3,600 km and an elapsed time of 69 hrs plus 3 hrs for time zone changes. This gives an effective speed of 50 km/h.
The conclusion to all this is that all long distance train journeys seem to have factors which restrict the effective speed to around 50 km/h between point A and point B when they are more than 3,000 km apart; hence the growth of air travel.
Maybe I have made some assumptions which readers may like to question. Maybe you know of a journey that challenges the above conclusions.
A surprising footnote to the above is that to travel from London to Moscow, at least two changes of train seem to be required - in Brussels and Berlin.
It was informative to use what timetables I had available to assemble the above information.
Howard Girdler, Mornington, Vic.
5) Steven Haby - Obtaining timetables in Melbourne.
Following your request (The Times No. 170, May 1998 p15) for good timetable supply points in Melbourne the following might be useful.
1. The Met Shop, Elizabeth Street, Melbourne contains all metro area bus, rail and tram timetables and other items. This is probably the easiest place to source timetables.
2. Information Desk, Main Concourse, Spencer Street Railway Station has all the V/Line timetables (20 cents per booklet) and free copies of the wallet sized card timetables.
3. Elizabeth Street Tram Terminus Information Booth has all the tram timetables for Elizabeth Street services.
4. Dyson's Bus Service depot, McKimmies Road, Bundoora. The reception desk has a display rack with bus timetables operated by Dyson's.
5. Ivanhoe Bus Company depot, Waterdale Road, West Heidelberg. The office has a display rack on the counter with timetables for services operated by this company.
6. Westrans (Kefford) depot, Slough Road, Altona has a timetable rack in the main office area.
7. Information Desks at Chadstone, Doncaster, Southland and Northland shopping centres state that they have timetables for all the local buses that pass through or terminate at their shopping centres.
I hope this is of use to readers.
Steven G. Haby, Melbourne, Vic.
(Ed: To add to the above locations, on my last visit to Melbourne about a year ago I was also able to obtain timetables from self serve racks at:
a. Transport House, Public Transport Corporation, 589 Collins St, Melbourne. On one of the floors there is a reception for the Trams and another floor there is a reception for the metropolitan Trains. At both of these receptions there were self serve wall racks containing their timetables.
b. University of Melbourne Student Union Building, Parkville. There is an area on the ground floor that has several small rooms with open access where there are a lot of racks with general information for students plus several racks with tram and bus timetables.
If readers could add to the above list or advise further details about any shown above I would be pleased to publish the details in The Times. Also I would very much like to publish details of good timetable supply points in Adelaide, Perth, Darwin, Hobart and Canberra. Could readers who are familiar with those cities please send me some lists so I can publish them in The Times. Thankyou.)
This month, Graphic Insight takes a look at a wide range of Australian transport timetables, and compares the number of services scheduled on Saturdays and Sundays with the number provided on weekdays.
The timetables on which the information is based are too many to list comprehensively but are recent public timetables (1994 to 1998) from Queensland Railways, CityRail (NSW), The Met (Vic), TransAdelaide, TransPerth, Brisbane City Council, MTT (Tas), Glenorie Bus Co (NSW), Countrylink (NSW), V/Line (Vic) and QANTAS airways. The routes selected are from the nominated location to the CBD of the respective State Capital city except as follows: QANTAS routes which are between the listed airport pairs, the Brisbane City Council bus service to Grange, the Glenorie Bus service route 635 from Castle Hill to Beecroft, Sydney Airport Express route 350 from Kings Cross to Sydney Domestic Airport, and the CityRail service from Maitland to Newcastle.
The graph below shows two bars for each route. The bars represent the number of services scheduled on each route on Saturday and Sunday expressed as a percentage of the number of weekday services on that route. Notably, only Robina to Brisbane trains and Melbourne to Coolangatta (OOL) flights offer better service on weekends than on weekdays - presumably the Gold Coast's heavy tourist industry is the business driver for this.
The general trend for Saturdays to be better served than Sundays is apparent, as is the relatively poor weekend service offered by the selected bus and ferry routes. This is particularly noticeable in the provincial city bus route from Somerset to Burnie (Tas) which has a token Saturday morning service and no Sunday service at all. The relatively poor Sunday service in Suburban Melbourne is also illustrated by the Ringwood train and Glen Iris tram services.
Finally, note also that on the heavily travelled business air routes between Melbourne and Sydney and between Sydney and Brisbane, Sunday is actually better served than Saturday.
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