Appendix 4:
Suburban Rail Systems - Additional Information - Europe
The extent of short- and medium-distance travel carried by railway networks around major cities is not always clear, because disaggregate data are not available for many suburban services operated as part of national railway networks. In some cases, compilation of such data with reference to a given city would be a daunting task because of relatively short distances between major cities. Belgium provides one example:
City Pair
Kilometers / miles
Brussels – Antwerpen
51 / 32
Brussels – Charleroi
63 / 39
Brussels – Gent
53 / 33
Brussels – Liège
100 / 62
Brussels – Lille (FR)
114 / 71
Antwerpen – Gent
66 / 41
Antwerpen – Liège
133 / 82
Antwerpen – Lille
139 / 86
Charleroi – Liège
96 / 60
Gent – Lille (FR)
73 / 45
The authors included Lille (France) in the example above because of its proximity to major Belgian cities. Excluding Charleroi and Liège, all cities above are part of historic Vlaanderen (Flanders). In Vlaamse (Flemish), a dialect of Nederlands (Dutch), the historic name for Lille is "Rijsel." Distances between the four major cities in The Netherlands are also short:
City Pair
Kilometers / Miles
Amsterdam – Den Haag
61 / 38
Amsterdam – Rotterdam
84 / 52
Amsterdam – Utrecht
40 / 25
Rotterdam – Den Haag
23 / 14
Rotterdam – Utrecht
56 / 35
Relatively short distances between major centers are also characteristic of parts of France, Germany and Italy.
Data for the national railway networks of Belgium (tabulated under "Brussels-Belgium"), Luxembourg ("Luxembourg-CFL") and The Netherlands ("Amsterdam-Netherlands") pertain to all services operated by the national passenger rail undertaking.
(Belgium is larger than the US (federal) state of Massachusetts, with 60 percent more people, and slightly smaller than Maryland, with almost twice as many people.)
(Luxembourg has about 80 percent of the land area of Rhode Island; Rhode Island has more than twice as many people.)
(The Netherlands is larger than Maryland, with more than three times as many people, and almost twice as large as New Jersey, with reference to both land area and population.)
Another problem that complicates determination of "suburban rail system length" is that of definition. There is no uniform standard or practice for distinguishing between "suburban" and "long-distance" traffic or services. In The Netherlands, for example, NS operates a dense network of local, semi-fast and fast trains throughout the country; there is no distinction between "suburban" and "long-distance" services. Some cities have officially-defined "commuter sheds" (e.g. major Japanese conurbations). However, the volume of "commuter" traffic (i.e. work trips) beginning or ending outside the "commuter shed" may be significant, particularly in locations where high-speed rail services are available.
In the UK, the National Railway (NRy) network in London and southeast England were (at 2007) worked by ten "train operating companies" (TOCs). These were often grouped as the "London and South East operators." However, this practice greatly exaggerated the size of the London suburban rail network. Some of the TOC franchises extended far beyond the London commute zone (e.g. north to Birmingham). Disaggregate data were not available.
Brown and Jackson (1990) state the system length operated by Network SouthEast, one of five pre-privatization "Business Sectors" of British Rail, at "just over 2000 route miles of line," or 3,200 route-kilometers.
A passenger survey conducted by the Department for Transport (DfT) at 2001 found that almost 1,750,000 rail journeys started on the average workday within the survey area, which coincided closely with the former Network SouthEast region. Destinations stated by passengers were organized by region, of these, almost 1,300,000 passengers stated destinations in "London" - which, in this case, refers to Greater London.
The Strategic Rail Authority (SRA; abolished at the end 2006) stated the number of passengers traveling over NRy lines into central London (at 2003) was 460,000 per weekday (0700-1000).
Similar data for individual TOCs are:
c2c Rail Ltd.: not available.
Chiltern Railways, Ltd: 13,000, at Marylebone, a.m. (0700-1000) and p.m. (1600-1900) peak periods.
First Great Western (replaced Thames Trains, Ltd., from 2004 April 1): not available.
Great Western Trains, Ltd. (“First Great Western;” former Thames Trains): not available.
London Eastern Railway, Ltd. (“one;” former First Great Eastern): not available.
Silverlink Train Services, Ltd.: not available.
South Central, Ltd.: not available.
South Eastern Trains, Ltd.: 120,000.
South West Trains, Ltd.: not available.
Thameslink Rail, Ltd.: 120,000.
West Anglia Great Northern Railway, Ltd.: not available.
Some of the TOC names listed above are certain to change because of changes in NRy franchises. (A pilot project to develop and promote high-frequency "metro style" services on suburban rail lines during off-peak hours is marketed as "Overground Network.")
Regional rail services extending from all but the largest centers in France, Germany and Italy are often overlooked. The authors referred to timetables in an effort to estimate aggregate system lengths. The authors omitted lines, and centers, where rail services are not timed to permit weekday travel "inward" during a.m. commute hours, and "outward" during p.m. commute hours. An example of a city or town omitted for this reason is Ajaccio (Corsica), France.
The authors estimated "regional" railway traffic for British provincial centers with reference to annual boarding and alighting data (which are available for individual stations), and to timetables as described above.
French provincial services are marketed as TER (Transport Express Régional). Responsibility for management of provincial rail services will eventually be handed to France’s 22 regional councils. Seven Régions participated in the initial round of decentralization, and five more signed "intermediate" or preparatory agreements.
The large aggregate "suburban rail" system lengths for some French and Italian provincial centers reflects the multiplicity of radial rail routes and the relatively long distances operated by some regional services.
Limoges, France, provides an example of a French provincial center and its TER network. Some of the following services extend into the neighboring Aquitaine, Poitou-Charentes and Centre régions:
Limoges (Gare Benedictins) to:
Kilometers / Miles
TER Timing
TER    Commercial Speed     Km/h / mph
la Souterrain – Châteauroix
137 / 85
103 / 64
Montmorrilon – Poitiers
139 / 86
64 / 40
St-Junien – Angoulême
122 / 76
59 / 36
Nexon – Périgueux
99 / 61
79 / 49
St-Yrieix-la-Perche – Brive-la-Gallarde
100 / 62
52 / 32
Uzerche – Brive-la-Gallarde
99 / 61
74 / 46
Meymac-Bourg – Ussel
103 / 64
56 / 35
Busseau-sur-Creuse – Felletin
127 / 79
63 / 39
Limoges proper has 130,000 residents, the Limoges agglomeration has 170,000 residents, and the Limousin région has 710,000 residents (1999).
The authors emphasize that, given a railway segment with some form of passenger service, the presence or absence of "dedicated" suburban, regional or "commuter rail" service provides little information regarding "suburban" or "regional" passenger traffic.