Sir - Work has now begun on the 1999 World Speed Survey, which as usual will be based on the summer timetables. Our 1997 review prompted an above-average reader response. It seems appropriate now to reply in the hope that with help from readers we can avoid errors.

These days mistakes are often blamed on computers - although more accurately this is usually a case of 'garbage in - garbage out'. Correspondent Gabor Bokory (RG 1.98 p16) pointed out errors in entering train times between Hegyeshalom and Györ. I had inadvertently put the arrival time of train EC41 Lehar as 08.11 instead of 08.07, extending the journey time of this and two other trains by 4min, and reducing my calculated speed from 134·3 km/h to 112·8 km/h. With Hungary's next fastest runs being 117·5 km/h, they were listed as fastest. Apologies go to Hungarian State Railways, which would have come ahead of Russia in 12th place in Table I.

Gérard Mathieu (RG 12.97 p840) was correct about the Shin Osaka - Hakata distance on Japan's shinkansen. I had mistakenly entered the distance from Tokyo for two of the 98 trains examined, and thus understated that 'over 40 trains a day run at more than 120 km/h'. M Mathieu's figures were exact, and additionally gave greater accuracy in commenting on Paris - Lyon TGV services.

Koichi Kudo (RG 4.98 p222) also noted the wrong shinkansen distance and corrected the Nozomi 503/508 speed in Table I to 242·5 km/h, including three stops! The sections speeds are:

Hiroshima - Kokura (and vv) 261·8 km/h

Hiroshima - Okayama (and vv) 255·7 km/h

Shin Osaka - Okayama 247·5 km/h

Okayama - Shin Osaka 241·3 km/h

Hakata - Kokura 209·6 km/h

Kokura - Hakata 197·3 km/h

Extending the survey in 1997 to cover the whole world brought some surprises. An apparent 341 km/h run in Mongolia showed that raw timetable data is not always reliable and can require checks with Thomas Cook Publishing or the railways themselves. There was no way that Train 275 (Beijing - Ulan Bator) leaving Saynshand at 23.50 could cover the 227 km to Choir in 40min when the next fastest run took nearly 4h. So Train 275 was excluded. Readers of The Times may recall an item on December 20 1995 which revealed that, in the timetable for Reading and Slough trains, on Sunday the 08.52 terminated at Outer Mongolia. The footnote had been added to remind typesetters to check the data. That is why I always welcome correspondence and corrections from readers which will help with compilation of the Speed Survey.

Colin Taylor

Queensland, Australia

  • Readers are invited to contribute to the 1999 Survey. Please contact:

Dr Colin Taylor via the Railway Gazette office