I was browsing through some Eddington stuff a while back and found some interesting information in Chapter 3 – Public Transport on a Roll. These sort of reports often contain great data on the rail system, and Eddington has been no exception. In chapter 3, there’s good information on the growth in average trip length and increases in express running. I’d been thinking about to what extent expresses are a good or bad idea in Melbourne, and this information gave me enough to get at least some good insights into the pitfalls and possibilities of express running.
Trends in express running – 1940 to today
The most important information from the report on this is shown below. It can be found on pages 74 and 75.
So what to these statistics tell us? Basically they indicate that between 1940 and today, average trip length has increased from 11km to 18km (around 64%), but that peak express running has in many cases increased even more substantially – 814% between Burnley and Camberwell, 106% between South Yarra and Caulfield, 72% between Caulfield and Cheltenham. Footscray-Newport, Clifton Hill-Heidelberg and Caulfield-Clayton had no express trains in 1940, but have many now.
Granted, this comparison is very very dodgy for a couple of reasons. Firstly, I’m comparing an overall increase in trip length across the network to evening peak express increases on just a few lines, overstating the increases in express running vis a vis trip length. The lines with the biggest increases in express running are the ones which are likely to have increases in trip length substantially higher than the metropolitan average.
Secondly, some of the express numbers in the second diagram are misleading. For instance, the 57% of trains that run express Newport to Footscray are Werribee services – but in 1940 the Werribee line wasn’t a suburban service at all, and wasn’t electrified until 1984! There’s also no mention of changes in the level of express running in key sections like Jolimont-Clifton Hill and Camberwell-Box Hill.
Even with these (substantial) problems, still basically reasonable to accept this stylised fact that express running has increased at a faster rate than trip length. The DoI claims that “Express trains were introduced partly as a response to competition from the rise in car ownership.” This is probably a reasonable explanation of why express running was expanded over and above trip length increases.
In part 2, I’m going to consider whether or not this has been a good thing for rail in Melbourne.
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