Graphic Insight this month compares the speed of Melbourne’s trains and trams. There are numerous places around Melbourne’s suburbs from where it is possible to board either a train or a tram to the city. So, which is quickest?
The graph below shows, for each of 26 locations, one bar showing the time it takes to travel from that location to the city by train, and another bar showing the time it takes to travel to the city by tram. For the purposes of this analysis, the city is defined as Melbourne Central station for trains and Elizabeth Street trams, Bourke Street for Swanston Street trams, and Swanston Street for other trams. The timings are taken at late morning on a weekday and are from the public train timetables published by "The Met" dated 16 Feb 1997, and "The Met" public tram timetables of various dates but all current as at 16 Feb 1997.
Most striking is that in every single case the train is faster than the tram, only slightly so when coming from the Northern suburbs particularly from the Upfield line, but much more definitely so when coming from the Southern suburbs such as Glenhuntly, Caulfield, Elsternwick etc. This is partly because there is more express train running on those lines. Note that if the city was defined as Flinders Street station, the comparison for trams from the Southern suburbs would be improved a little because trains run to Melbourne Central first then to Flinders Street, whereas trams from the South run to Flinders Street first. Nevertheless, whilst the train journey would be 7 minutes longer and the tram journey 4 minutes shorter, the 11 minute relative improvement for trams from Southern destinations would still leave trains as the significantly faster mode for city-bound trips. Service frequencies are another variable of course and transit times do also vary by time of day; so Graphic Insight will be looking at this in the near future.