The Incredible Shrinking Railway lines (The Age 11/06/06)

 
  Jason R Chief Commissioner

Location: Socialist People's Republic of Yarra.
...(can you actually fit a train in a 5 minute 'gap'?)...
"Jason R"

Yes...
"John of Melbourne"

Great! Very Happy

So, we could in theory have a Doncaster service of similar frequency as exists on the Hurstbridge line UP of Greensborough.

Of course, this would create a bottleneck and lack of any room for improvements on the Epping line with or without a partial reinstatement to South Morang / Mernda, or anywhere else for that matter.

It's about time that the rail system adopted some of the road lobby's tactics - create a bottleneck then scream blue murder until it gets fixed Twisted EvilLaughing

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  mjja Sir Nigel Gresley

Location: Mount Waverley, Melbourne
Right up to date as usual - those lines were closed in the 50s-70s. Rolling Eyes

yeah, about the buses. Buses are never a substitute for rail. Quite clearly, some MPs (cough cough) have defied this legitimate logic. I think that campaign might gain popularity. Commuters have been let down.
It's true, since the 1930's, no major significant rail projects have been taken place. I'd blame the car. Well, maybe Bailleu will 'get on track', although I doubt it given the libs pro-car policies. Eventually, something will happen to make the car history. Probably lack of fuel options...
Wink
"sueglossy"

Actually, if patronage is lowish buses can do just about as good a job. They aren't as comfortable, but they can be pretty close to the speed (especially if it's a short trip like those closed suburban lines) and frequency.
  PaxInfo Deputy Commissioner

Location: Melbourne
Great posts from penov & DMU Dave - answered all my questions - thanks!

If we define the suburban network as only including those lines that offer a suburban level of service (ie 20 min or better) then the suburban network is now larger than it was, given the extension of surbuan frequencies to Dandenong, etc.  

Service intensities at Dandenong became higher but during this time services actually became less intensive in the inner suburbs (Williamstown, Brighton, Essendon).  In other words there was a shift in resources to growing areas and away from established suburbs.  

DMU Dave pointed out that for the country network a more intensive service is provided over a smaller network (a/c line closures).  

This is the opposite of the metroplitan trend for 1930s Melbourne (ie inner suburbs) but comparable with outer suburban trends.  

So in summary:

- Service intensity over the inner parts of the suburban network has declined (now there are less frequent trains on the same tracks)
- Service intensity over the outer parts of the outer part of the suburban network has increased (more trains on fewer lines)
- Service intensity over the rural network has increased (more trains on fewer lines)

Very interesting!

Peter

(*) If we define suburban service as 20 min service or better off-peak.
  Riccardo Minister for Railways

Location: Gone. Don't bother PMing here.
Great posts from penov & DMU Dave - answered all my questions - thanks!

So to summarise, penov basically says that the suburban network now is larger* (though there have been losses as well as gains) but a less intensive service is provided to the established inner suburbs (eg Willamstown & Essendon) than before.   Even though the tracks were already there, I would regard extending 20 minute service to Dandenong (instead of an hour) as an extension of the suburban network in recognition of the area's urbanisation.  


(*) If we define suburban service as 20 min service or better off-peak.
"Meltrip"


Peter, your post has merit but I can't understand why people don't see the words suburban and country have had their meanings change.

Sub-urban meant 80 years ago what the coinage interurban might mean now.

Compare German word Vorort and Stadtteil. The former describes Sunbury and Melton, pieces of the rest of Melbourne including the CBD itself is described by the latter word. I wish we had it so easy in our language.

In the 1920s there were plenty of Rockbanks and Meltons around Melbourne, already with rail stations and the names they use now.

And we need to understand how people travelled in those days.
That Ballarat might have had only a couple of trains a day (and those being trains bound for more distant places) would not have bothered the people of the time, as their travel would have been akin to what we call business or VFR travel today.

They were prepared to book seats, pay sums of money that would have been a fair chunk of their earnings, turn up well before departure, book luggage through.

They in turn would have expected a labour intensive service for their money - they would have expected staff to be there to handle their luggage, issue tickets, keep the station waiting room warm, and so on. No machines for them (even though simple ticket machines already existed)

And they would have expected decorum from their fellow travellers, with people we would now call 'feral' excluded from travel.

People would not have commuted from Ballarat, there were plenty of Rockbanks and Meltons to live in if you wanted the country life, many with good electric train services.

A relative of mine was involved with the sale (in the 1980s) of an Anglican Church campsite in Frankston, that the church bought in the 20s. The logic was very clear - remote, beachside, a great place for kids to go for a camp, and on the electric train

And if you wanted to live on the very edge of nowhere, and still get an electric train to work, Hurstbridge was electrified in 1926
  PaxInfo Deputy Commissioner

Location: Melbourne
(while Riccado was writing his post, I was editing mine so that's why the bit Riccado quoted isn't there anymore)

Riccado, all your points taken.  But times have changed, people are more mobile, commutes are longer and more have cars.  A trip to Melbourne from Ballarat would be more special then than now.  Hence people would have been willing to work around the train timetable, just as they do today for international flights, since there was no alternative.  And self-employed business types have always had more control of their own time than employees anyway.  

The socio-economic character of country train travel has changed, so that today it's often pensioners (many using their free travel) and younger people.  Patronage growth now relies on attracting people with a choice and catering for a wide variety of trips.

The Ballarat case is an example of 'commuter rail'.  As opposed to urban rail, where people don't need to book, have fewer on-train facilities but have more travel flexibility due to the more frequent service offered.  

Commuter rail with its poor service frequencies makes poor use of track, has high fixed costs and only serves a minority of travel needs.  Hence financial returns are likely to be poor.  

Urban rail has more patronage, more intensive service so serves more travel needs.  And the finances are better as there's more passengers to spread the fixed costs.

Vuchic argues that commuter rail (though offering a high quality trip) is less suitable for modern conditions (where more own cars)  than urban or comprehensive regional rail.   The latter either has a frequent service or a clockface headway with timed transfer buses.  The RFR project seems to represent a laudable move towards the latter.  

Peter
  penov Chief Commissioner

Location: By the shore of Bass Strait.
Meltrip has hit the nail on the head with his comments on the commuting of the 20s and 30s. The average working man ciuldn't afford to go on rail trips to the country in the  1920s and 30s. People looking for work had to "ride the rattler" - Hide under a tarp on a goods truck. A ticket to say Mildura would have been two weeks pay for the average bloke.
  Riccardo Minister for Railways

Location: Gone. Don't bother PMing here.
(while Riccado was writing his post, I was editing mine so that's why the bit Riccado quoted isn't there anymore)

Riccado, all your points taken.  But times have changed, people are more mobile, commutes are longer and more have cars.  A trip to Melbourne from Ballarat would be more special then than now.  Hence people would have been willing to work around the train timetable, just as they do today for international flights, since there was no alternative.  And self-employed business types have always had more control of their own time than employees anyway.  

The socio-economic character of country train travel has changed, so that today it's often pensioners (many using their free travel) and younger people.  Patronage growth now relies on attracting people with a choice and catering for a wide variety of trips.

The Ballarat case is an example of 'commuter rail'.  As opposed to urban rail, where people don't need to book, have fewer on-train facilities but have more travel flexibility due to the more frequent service offered.  

Commuter rail with its poor service frequencies makes poor use of track, has high fixed costs and only serves a minority of travel needs.  Hence financial returns are likely to be poor.  

Urban rail has more patronage, more intensive service so serves more travel needs.  And the finances are better as there's more passengers to spread the fixed costs.

Vuchic argues that commuter rail (though offering a high quality trip) is less suitable for modern conditions (where more own cars)  than urban or comprehensive regional rail.   The latter either has a frequent service or a clockface headway with timed transfer buses.  The RFR project seems to represent a laudable move towards the latter.  
"Meltrip"


I think we're furiously in agreement.

Commuter rail always has favoured an upper white collar class who can choose their own hours, have a greater preference for comfort and (according to an American theorist) favour living closer to nature because their are the 'controllers' of their work environment and prefer an uncontrolled leisure (cf the blue collar and lower white collar classes, who are the ones 'put upon' at work and therefore seek to be 'in control' at home, with McMansions and manicured gardens as symbols.)

To keep this thread on topic, I suppose the contention is 'has the government kept the "service standard" comparable with earlier times, albeit mindful of changes in the size of Melbourne, level of technology, preferences and so on?'

I would answer no, although some paradoxes in my answer are that I actually think some areas have been 'overserved' or 'inapppropriately served' and this has been at the expense of other areas.

I certainly feel Pakenham and Hurstbridge in particular are overserved, and we should not be surprised to see suburban development in these inappropriate locations.

We see McMansions at "Lakeside" while underused land in Westall and Springvale.

We see people on this board advocating duplicating to Hurstbridge when a little 2-car shuttle should be plenty for the line beyond Eltham.

But how can we communicate the futility of running 6 car trains, when the government in effect 'fuels' the demand for these services (while denying services to needier others)?

It is great that an accident of history left Hurstbridge electrified (and denied Healesville though it was a larger town). But we should not be beholden to history, as even people in 1926 had no fantasies that Hurstbridge was or should be a suburb.

It got its wire to save a steam loco being stationed up there, pure and simple.

In France or Japan the government would have built a little wired singlecar thing (much like we had with our Taits) and would have left it shuttling at these system extremities.

Meanwhile places with real demand for rail services - Doncaster, Rowville, South Morang, continue to do without.

I do not support wiring to Sunbury or Melton (it only encourages this kind of thinking). There is nothing inherently wrong with Vline, and what there is wrong is in the mentality, not the rollingstock.

There are things wrong with Westall, Springvale and Noble Park, but they are not the railways' to fix, and they are not fixed by opening up land at Officer.

I keep pointing out on this board - until the railways develop a 'service standard' that is more than just punctuality targets, they will continue to confuse the minds of the public, keep them believing that all good rail cars have a pantograph on top, that problem social suburbs can be dealt with by opening up new suburbs elsewhere, and that people should keep the services they have, whether or not they deserve them, or others are more deserving.
  Riccardo Minister for Railways

Location: Gone. Don't bother PMing here.
Meltrip has hit the nail on the head with his comments on the commuting of the 20s and 30s. The average working man ciuldn't afford to go on rail trips to the country in the  1920s and 30s. People looking for work had to "ride the rattler" - Hide under a tarp on a goods truck. A ticket to say Mildura would have been two weeks pay for the average bloke.
"penov"


That's why we saw much made of 'sunday excursions' 'picnic day trains' and so on.

The average working man was lucky to afford the ticket he needed to by, and many people in workingclass suburbs walked or rode a bike to work. Even tram/train travel was a sign of middle-classness, not working class.

It's funny that we as railfans think nothing of getting on an excursion train to Woodend or whatever. For some workers 80 years ago, that was their annual holiday.

And because country travel has become so disreputable with all the ferals and whatever, it is hard for us to imagine paying businessmen once rode the rails.
  Somebody in the WWW Banned

Location: Banned
Speaking of the Doncaster line, does anyone know of any public libraries that have the '79 Melway? I know the state library does, but you have to wait for it to be delivered from out the back Mad.
  DavidB Moderator

Location: Canberra
Meltrip has hit the nail on the head with his comments on the commuting of the 20s and 30s. The average working man ciuldn't afford to go on rail trips to the country in the  1920s and 30s.
"penov"

My grandmother grew up in Kew (actually her local station was Willsmere) in the early 1920s. Her father was a tram driver. The annual family holiday was a week at a guest house in Edithvale. Going "to town" was an adventure.

Cheers
David
  Jason R Chief Commissioner

Location: Socialist People's Republic of Yarra.
Speaking of the Doncaster line, does anyone know of any public libraries that have the '79 Melway?
"Somebody in the WWW"


The Ballieu Library at the University of Melbourne has it, as well as other old Melways but they're in the 'Special Collection'. You can pre-order it online and they will have it available for you at a predetermined time (you don't have to be a Melbourne Uni student to do this).

If you can deal with a 1978 or 1980 edition, the Education Resource Centre has them, and although these have also been archived in the closed access section, the staff there in the maps section should be able to get it out for you without having to pre-order.

University of Melbourne libraries are open to the public. Most local libraries won't have kept their old Melways.

If all you want to do is look at the old reservation, PalmerEldritch has scanned in a few snippets from an old Melways and uploaded it to the gallery
[gallery=http://www.railpage.com.au/modules.php?full=1&set_albumName=album53&id=Doncaster_Line&name=gallery&include=view_photo.phpl]
  DavidB Moderator

Location: Canberra
There are more detailed documents about the Doncaster line in the State Library than an old Melway.

For example:
Eastern railway feasibility study, John Paterson Urban Systems and Perrott, Lyon, Timlock and Kesa, 1972.

Cheers
David
  John of Melbourne The Ghost of George Stephenson

Location: Melbourne suburbs
If we define the suburban network as only including those lines that offer a suburban level of service (ie 20 min or better) then the suburban network is now larger than it was, given the extension of surbuan frequencies to Dandenong, etc.  

...

(*) If we define suburban service as 20 min service or better off-peak.
"Meltrip"
So Ringwood to Belgrave and Lilydale, and Dandenong to Pakenham and Cranbourne are not suburban?

Peter, your post has merit but I can't understand why people don't see the words suburban and country have had their meanings change.
"Riccardo"
Because they haven't been around long enough to see them change and haven't studied it the way you apparently have?

Sub-urban meant 80 years ago what the coinage interurban might mean now.
"Riccardo"
It did?

Compare German word Vorort and Stadtteil. The former describes Sunbury and Melton, pieces of the rest of Melbourne including the CBD itself is described by the latter word. I wish we had it so easy in our language.
"Riccardo"
I don't see the point of this.

The Ballarat case is an example of 'commuter rail'.  As opposed to urban rail, where people don't need to book, have fewer on-train facilities but have more travel flexibility due to the more frequent service offered.
"Meltrip"
Maybe it's just your choice of terms, but a commuter is a person travelling to work (particularly by public transport).  So trams, suburban trains, and regional trains used by commuters could all be described as "commuter rail".


  Byrnesy Minister for Railways

Location: Gone

Looking at the timetable at Clifton Hill shows that there is typically a 5 minute gap between trains, which is about correct since expresses catch 3 minutes Clifton Hill - Jolimont, plus 2 minutes headway. There are also some 5 minute gaps between two stopper and two express services (I assume these are there because of the conflict between Hurstbridge services and UP Epping services at Clifton Hill junction), As such, killing off the express services (yes, it inconveniences people to the tune of three minutes, but such a small saving isn't much of an express service anyway), means Doncaster services would likely fit in the spaces between the existing stopper and express services.
"JasonR"
I don't like the idea of having all trains stopping all stations from Clifton Hill onwards- firstly, it would mean that West Richmond-Victoria Park are getting far, far too many services- IMHO they don't really need anything more than a 12-15 minute peak service. Secondly, while the saving gained on the section is fairly minimal, it is still a saving- and the expresses from Hurstbridge in the morning are so packed that forcing the Hurstbridge expresses to stop there would be both pointless and unfair.

Talking of gaps at Clifton Hill, it has always surprised that a gap of the magnitude of 7:57->8:08 could exist when you have two busy lines going through there. Surely it would be possible to have one, if not two, extra trains through Clifton Hill, from either the Epping or Hurstbridge lines, in that 11 minute gap. I haven't the time to study whether it would be possible to squeeze in anymore trains on either line around the various single line sections in that 7:57-8:08 gap. JoM- would it be possible, for either line?
  Jason R Chief Commissioner

Location: Socialist People's Republic of Yarra.
I agree that Collingwood, North Richmond and West Richmond would be grossly overserviced (Victoria Park not so, since passengers would transfer there for Doncaster services). With all trains stopping at Victoria Park, the saving lost would be probably be closer to two minutes - less than optimal, but not really the end of the world. A train delayed more than about 60 seconds delaying all other trains on the group and a total lack of room for service improvements would be bigger problems in my opinion.
  Nexas The Ghost of George Stephenson

I agree that Collingwood, North Richmond and West Richmond would be grossly overserviced (Victoria Park not so, since passengers would transfer there for Doncaster services). With all trains stopping at Victoria Park, the saving lost would be probably be closer to two minutes - less than optimal, but not really the end of the world.

A much bigger problem would be that if a train ran more than about 60 seconds late, it would delay all other trains on the group.
"Jason R"


The main purpose for an express train in suburban Melbourne is to limit overcrowding, not to save time. Whether it saves no minutes, or two minutes, or three minutes, it doesn't matter.
  John of Melbourne The Ghost of George Stephenson

Location: Melbourne suburbs
Talking of gaps at Clifton Hill, it has always surprised that a gap of the magnitude of 7:57->8:08 could exist when you have two busy lines going through there. Surely it would be possible to have one, if not two, extra trains through Clifton Hill, from either the Epping or Hurstbridge lines, in that 11 minute gap. I haven't the time to study whether it would be possible to squeeze in anymore trains on either line around the various single line sections in that 7:57-8:08 gap. JoM- would it be possible, for either line?
"Byrnesy"

Yes, given that a train and driver was available.

However, other restrictions would mean that the only places it could run from would be Macleod, Bell, or Epping.  In the latter case, it would depart Epping the moment a down arrived and cross another down at Keon Park.  Some adjustments would need to be made to platform use at Flinders Street.


  Jason R Chief Commissioner

Location: Socialist People's Republic of Yarra.
The main purpose for an express train in suburban Melbourne is to limit overcrowding, not to save time. Whether it saves no minutes, or two minutes, or three minutes, it doesn't matter.
"Nexas"


Yes, but CWD, NRM and WRM are so poorly patronised, they wouldn't really make crowding any worse.

Anyway, the point of my original post was that it would be possible to run an extra line off the Clifton Hill group without multiplication, but it would be far less than optimal.
  ninthnotch Dr Beeching

Location: Not here. Try another castle.
The main purpose for an express train in suburban Melbourne is to limit overcrowding, not to save time. Whether it saves no minutes, or two minutes, or three minutes, it doesn't matter.
"Nexas"


Yes, but CWD, NRM and WRM are so poorly patronised, they wouldn't really make crowding any worse.

Anyway, the point of my original post was that it would be possible to run an extra line off the Clifton Hill group without multiplication, but it would be far less than optimal.
"Jason R"
Can someone make me up some kind of gif or jpeg to use whenever uses of unneccesary station acronyms occur?
  Nexas The Ghost of George Stephenson

The main purpose for an express train in suburban Melbourne is to limit overcrowding, not to save time. Whether it saves no minutes, or two minutes, or three minutes, it doesn't matter.
"Nexas"


Yes, but CWD, NRM and WRM are so poorly patronised, they wouldn't really make crowding any worse.

Anyway, the point of my original post was that it would be possible to run an extra line off the Clifton Hill group without multiplication, but it would be far less than optimal.
"Jason R"
Can someone make me up some kind of gif or jpeg to use whenever uses of unneccesary station acronyms occur?
"ninthnotch"


Can do. Wink
  Riccardo Minister for Railways

Location: Gone. Don't bother PMing here.
If we define the suburban network as only including those lines that offer a suburban level of service (ie 20 min or better) then the suburban network is now larger than it was, given the extension of surbuan frequencies to Dandenong, etc.  

...

(*) If we define suburban service as 20 min service or better off-peak.
"Meltrip"
So Ringwood to Belgrave and Lilydale, and Dandenong to Pakenham and Cranbourne are not suburban?

Peter, your post has merit but I can't understand why people don't see the words suburban and country have had their meanings change.
"Riccardo"
Because they haven't been around long enough to see them change and haven't studied it the way you apparently have?

Sub-urban meant 80 years ago what the coinage interurban might mean now.
"Riccardo"
It did?

Compare German word Vorort and Stadtteil. The former describes Sunbury and Melton, pieces of the rest of Melbourne including the CBD itself is described by the latter word. I wish we had it so easy in our language.
"Riccardo"
I don't see the point of this.

The Ballarat case is an example of 'commuter rail'.  As opposed to urban rail, where people don't need to book, have fewer on-train facilities but have more travel flexibility due to the more frequent service offered.
"Meltrip"
Maybe it's just your choice of terms, but a commuter is a person travelling to work (particularly by public transport).  So trams, suburban trains, and regional trains used by commuters could all be described as "commuter rail".


"John of Melbourne"


Come on Jommie boy, can try harder.

The term commuter, though an English term, came into its own in Australia well ahead of any overseas example.

It referred to the periodical ticket holders of the 1800s writing to the Commissioner (yes, people wrote letters than, My Dearest Sir, etc) praying that as the ticket holder was a regular 'forker-outer' for the service and kept the Commissioner in his comfy office with leather chair, the least he could do was 'commute' the fare paid to a lower amount.

Ah yes, JoM, 'commute' you know, what US judges do when they think the bad guy shouldn't fry. They 'reduce' or 'shift'.

Which country pioneered the idea of middle class people living along existing mainline rail routes, travelling from small outlying towns to major cities for work? And never saw fit to build a dedicated metro system?

You're living in it.

Not sure you really read the rest of my post or Peters.

I quoted the German words Stadtteil and Vorort so you would realise that the reason a lot of people in here getting their knickers in knots about whether x or y deserves a 'suburban' service is they can't even get their heads around what the word 'suburban' means.

If we allowed these concepts into our lexicon we would see why running urban trains to suburban areas was bad news. And vice versa. Why London has an underground as well as an above ground.
  John of Melbourne The Ghost of George Stephenson

Location: Melbourne suburbs
The term commuter, though an English term, came into its own in Australia well ahead of any overseas example.

It referred to the periodical ticket holders of the 1800s writing to the Commissioner (yes, people wrote letters than, My Dearest Sir, etc) praying that as the ticket holder was a regular 'forker-outer' for the service and kept the Commissioner in his comfy office with leather chair, the least he could do was 'commute' the fare paid to a lower amount.
"Riccardo"
I had some idea of that, but you've added to my knowledge there.

Which country pioneered the idea of middle class people living along existing mainline rail routes, travelling from small outlying towns to major cities for work? And never saw fit to build a dedicated metro system?
"Riccardo"
Excuse me, how did we go from "periodical ticket holder" to "people living along existing mainline rail routes"?  Periodical ticket holders could live along any rail route.

Which means that you have done nothing to answer my point.

Not sure you really read the rest of my post or Peters.
"Riccardo"
I read them all right through.

I quoted the German words Stadtteil and Vorort so you would realise that the reason a lot of people in here getting their knickers in knots about whether x or y deserves a 'suburban' service is they can't even get their heads around what the word 'suburban' means.
"Riccardo"
Which you didn't really explain, beyond saying that the meaning had changed.  What I would have expected might be for you to use a couple of foreign-language words to explain a difference in concept, then relate our word to one of those words.  That last step you didn't do.

  Nexas The Ghost of George Stephenson

The main purpose for an express train in suburban Melbourne is to limit overcrowding, not to save time. Whether it saves no minutes, or two minutes, or three minutes, it doesn't matter.
"Nexas"


Yes, but CWD, NRM and WRM are so poorly patronised, they wouldn't really make crowding any worse.

Anyway, the point of my original post was that it would be possible to run an extra line off the Clifton Hill group without multiplication, but it would be far less than optimal.
"Jason R"
Can someone make me up some kind of gif or jpeg to use whenever uses of unneccesary station acronyms occur?
"ninthnotch"


Can do. Wink
"Nexas"


  PaxInfo Deputy Commissioner

Location: Melbourne

(*) If we define suburban service as 20 min service or better off-peak.
"Meltrip"
So Ringwood to Belgrave and Lilydale, and Dandenong to Pakenham and Cranbourne are not suburban?

It's hard to draw the line; we could define the extent of the urban system in terms of propulsion system used, rolling stock or service levels.  

If we used the former, then we could have said that the sparks to Warragul were a suburban service.  Suburban trains, yes, but suburban service, I don't think so.

As for making the distinction, I went for service levels and passenger behaviour.   When a service is more frequent people will turn up randomly and expect a train within 10 or 20 minutes.   I'd regard this as an urban style of travel, much like with trams and most of the suburban network.  With longer headways people can't just turn up and go so are dependent on timetables and carefully planning their trips.  This is a more outer area or rural style operation where people don't just catch 'a train', but rather they catch the '7:38'.

I picked 20 minutes, though 30 could be a better choice since it includes Cranbourne/Pakenham.  But then that leaves out Hurstbridge unless it's 40 minutes.  Over 40 minutes is certainly not 'turn up and go' and approaches the more intensive country services, eg Geelong & Ballarat.

Station spacing is important; the outlying areas I excluded (though part of almost-contiguous suburbia) have station spacings that are far wider than most established urban systems both here and overseas (average 1km).

Another, local definition of suburban is 'any service covered by Metcard', but even this includes commuter-style services, eg Melton & Craigieburn.

The Ballarat case is an example of 'commuter rail'.  As opposed to urban rail, where people don't need to book, have fewer on-train facilities but have more travel flexibility due to the more frequent service offered.
"Meltrip"
Maybe it's just your choice of terms, but a commuter is a person travelling to work (particularly by public transport).  So trams, suburban trains, and regional trains used by commuters could all be described as "commuter rail".
"John of Melbourne"


That is one way of looking at it, though I'm using Vukan Vuchic's definition of 'commuter rail' (ref Urban Transit: Operations Planning & Economics, 2005, p602).  

Vuchic's characteristics of 'commuter rail' include:

- terminates at stub stations on the fringes of the CBD
- High speed
- Widely spaced stations
- High comfort
- Long and/or irregular headways, thus passengers need to look up a timetable

This is most like our interurban V/Line services, eg from Ballarat, Traralgon, Geelong, etc.   But note that some US examples only operate peak hours only whereas ours have longer running hours.  

Vuchic goes on to define 'regional rail'.  He gives the Hamburg S-bahn, Paris RER and Sydney's Cityrail network as typical examples.  These systems serve more than one CBD station, link suburban activity centres and have headways between 5 and 20 minutes throughout the day.  

This strikes me as being a pretty good description of our suburban system.  

Nevertheless there are also parallels with what Vuchic calls 'Rail Rapid Transit (Metro)' due to our close station spacings and trains not dissimilar to subways elsewhere.   Though because we started early, we could build surface systems rather than have them underground, as in older and higher density European cities.

Peter
  Riccardo Minister for Railways

Location: Gone. Don't bother PMing here.
The term commuter, though an English term, came into its own in Australia well ahead of any overseas example.

It referred to the periodical ticket holders of the 1800s writing to the Commissioner (yes, people wrote letters than, My Dearest Sir, etc) praying that as the ticket holder was a regular 'forker-outer' for the service and kept the Commissioner in his comfy office with leather chair, the least he could do was 'commute' the fare paid to a lower amount.
"Riccardo"
I had some idea of that, but you've added to my knowledge there.

Which country pioneered the idea of middle class people living along existing mainline rail routes, travelling from small outlying towns to major cities for work? And never saw fit to build a dedicated metro system?
"Riccardo"
Excuse me, how did we go from "periodical ticket holder" to "people living along existing mainline rail routes"?  Periodical ticket holders could live along any rail route.

Which means that you have done nothing to answer my point.

Not sure you really read the rest of my post or Peters.
"Riccardo"
I read them all right through.

I quoted the German words Stadtteil and Vorort so you would realise that the reason a lot of people in here getting their knickers in knots about whether x or y deserves a 'suburban' service is they can't even get their heads around what the word 'suburban' means.
"Riccardo"
Which you didn't really explain, beyond saying that the meaning had changed.  What I would have expected might be for you to use a couple of foreign-language words to explain a difference in concept, then relate our word to one of those words.  That last step you didn't do.

"John of Melbourne"


JoM in bullet points coz its quicker

-Australian capital cities were settled from the cores outwards

-In Europe a large city might have historically had no political or administrative connection to the villages or towns around it

-In Europe with better transport and population growth these villages and towns were agglomerated into the mass, but retained their historic sense of identity and often retained their historic 'raisons d'etre' [look that one up!] even though clearly in the orbit of a larger city

-It was therefore appropriate, in Europe at any rate, to separate out semantically the concept of a portion of a city, from the concept of a town or village in the broader orbit of that city.

-Australia agglomerated such villages and towns into larger cities too (although I'm sure there were fewer to start with). However, as many of these villages and towns lacked any separate identity, they were easily incorporated into the identity of the larger city.

Ask a person from Bonn whether they live in Cologne. They will answer no, although the 2 share an airport.

-In Victoria, for example, Geelong has managed to maintain a separate identity (though it shares an airport) but Werribee, Melton and Sunbury have not.

-places like Ringwood, Dandenong and Frankston have definitely not retained their own identities separate from Melbourne.

We use this word 'suburban' in a sense quite different from a lot of the world. We use it where we could use the word 'urban'.

What does this have to do with trains?

-clearly an urban journey is a journey the passenger expects to be relatively cheap, little sense of preparation required, comfort is not the biggest deal. It is not unexpected that people should make these journeys, this is the raison d'etre of the place - people doing the work that the city exists for.

-a suburban journey would be one from an outlying town or village with its own raison d'etre (and therefore, the passenger is making a journey away from their town and effectively to do the work of some other town).  The passenger is clearly someone who DOES expect to have to fit, somewhat, within the parameters of the service provider. They do expect comfort, they do expect to have to pay for the priviledge. They expect the service to be only there at the times most people travel, eg AM and PM peaks.

Now definition 1 actually sounds like what we call suburban in Australia, and definition 2 sounds like what we call interurban.

That's fine, but then on this board I have read all sorts of stuff about what sort of service should be provided, and people picking and choosing like a buffet which bits of the service they reckon the government should provide, no regard to the cost it might have.

And people who have no regard for what sort of message these calls have to the community, who are poorly educated, and who go and build houses in response to these ill-thought out calls.

I made this point about Pakenham and Hurstbridge. To illustrate. As far as I'm concerned, they can keep their existing services.

But its a bit rich when people go saying that Hurstbridge should get double track, or we need a third track to Dandenong to meet the needs of Pakenham people, when IMNSHO people shouldn't be build McMansions out at Pakenham till I can see some evidence that Melbourne is already full.

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