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Trainfinder: Travelling every suburban train line in Australia and New Zealand

Angus Kidman 8 March 2018 NEWS

Why commute on just one train line when you can commute on them all?

Confession: my life isn't truly complete unless I'm mounting some sort of questionably comprehensive train-related project, whether that's squeezing every last cent out of an Opal card, finding Australia's most basic railway station or just wallowing in train-related data.

So in 2018 I'm committing to Trainfinder: travelling the entire length of every suburban train line in Australia and New Zealand, and doing each city in a single day. That means I'll be covering the train system in Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Perth, Adelaide, Auckland and Wellington.

The rules are simple: over the course of the year, I have to travel the length of every single commuter line in each of those cities in a single calendar day. I don't have to get off at every station, but I do have to get off at each end. And then I have to write about it.

By now, I can hear you screaming: Why? As I've argued before, it's partly genetics. On the paternal side, both my father and my grandfather liked nothing more than spending the entire day on public transport, whether that was in Australia or Europe. Here's the itinerary for my grandfather visiting Scotland back in 1986, scanned directly from his diary:

Another one of my grandfathers (we'll cover their large numbers another time) spent his entire career working for the NSW railways, ending up as a station master in such glamorous locations as Parkes, Tenterfield and Glen Innes. So there's a massive combination of steam, diesel and managed electric current in my veins.

More practically, Trainfinder will allow me to do what we do best at finder.com.au: compare. I'm a regular commuter in Sydney, and I've used the trains in all those cities before, but travelling the entire system lets me see how well they stack up and how they differ. How reliable are the timetables? How good is the mobile signal? How crowded does peak hour get? And will my phone battery hold up?

On Wednesday this week, I kicked off Trainfinder with a 15-hour jaunt around the Brisbane network. Tune in to see how that went, and watch out for more Trainfinder obsessiveness throughout the year. All aboard!

Angus Kidman's Findings column looks at new developments and research that help you save money, make wise decisions and enjoy your life more. It appears regularly on finder.com.au.

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