average subway speed

Ive tried to to find this answer online with no luck. What is the average speed of a subway?

0 mph I’d hope. Otherwise the trains would have a heck of a time getting through.

Paging matt_mcl

In Tokyo, the average speeds range from 28.6 to 43 km/hr. Note that the frequency of the stops causes the slow speeds. Cite (Unfortunately in Japanese)

Which subway do you mean?

According to the Edmonton LRT schedule, it takes 21 minutes to get from one end to the other. Wikipedia somehow knows that it’s 12.3 km in length.

60min/hr / 21min * 12.3 km = 35km/hr.

I find the average speed of public transportation pathetic. :mad: I easily beat the trains and buses here in Calgary when going from point A to B on a bicycle. For instance, it takes about 1.5 hours to get home from work on public transportation whereas I can cycle it in under 40 minutes while carrying a backpack full of clothing and food. This is going along a central corridor in the city.

Really, people should ditch public transportation and ride a bike most of the time.

Nah, it’s the average velocity of a subway train (or any other form of transportation, for that matter) that tends to approach zero even during its service lifetime.

One hopes that the average speed is somewhat above zero.

The OP won’t find a reliable average without restricting some parameters, but the San Francisco Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) is probably on the high end of “subway” speeds.

One of the fastest stop-to-stop BART rides is probably between West Oakland Station and the Embarcadero station in SF. That’s about 6 miles, of which ~90% is below the surface (mainly in the Transbay Tube). The BART website gives an average time of seven minutes between the two stations, thus about 51mph or 82kph.

BART has several other stations with comparatively large distances between them – hence higher average speed – (e.g. Castro Valley to Dublin/Pleasanton, 11 miles in 11 minutes or ~60mph), but most of those are on surface or elevated track, so might not meet the OP’s criterion of “subway”.

Methinks you got whoooshed by the motionless subway tunnel :wink:

IIRC the Victoria Line in London is underground for its entire 13 mile length, and is timed as a 37 minute journey - averaging 21mph. Most other lines have long overground sections with larger intervals between stations, which probably increase the average speed but also make them poor examples if you want to talk specifically about underground railways.

I’ve seen average speed estimates on the London Underground of around 20.5 mph, or 33 kmh (Cite) . I’m not sure if this includes stopping times or not.

Yes, I hear it’s very invigorating during those balmy Calgary winters :slight_smile:

The average speed of New York subway trains is about 19mph. On the express lines, that can get up to around 23mph.

That’s the average speed, of course. Trains are capable of reaching much higher speeds for a short time. Certain short segments are very fast, and can appraoch 65mph. The 60th Street Tunnel is an example.

“We’re being held here by supervision, we should be moving shortly.”

In L.A., last I’ve heard, the light rail lines, when not at grade and between stops, hit about 55mph. The subway has to be faster than that, maybe around 70.

Why? Again using London as an example, Wikipedia says the 50mph line speed of the Metropolitan line is the fastest on the network, and I don’t think it’s coincidental that this line is the most like any normal surface railway.

Anyone got a good estimate or cite for Boston subways? I assume the Green line is much slower then the others.

Just got back from Subway. The Indians cranked out a sandwhich is 3 minutes, 37 seconds.


Thanks for the instant NYC flashback!

The maximum speed for BART is 80 MPH, but the end-to-end average once you factor in things like actually stopping at stations comes out to about 33 MPH.

There are quite a few factors involved in this, which can push the average speed up or down:

Dwell Time (i)
This is the industry lingo for time stopped at stations, and it is more complex that you might think. On a hybrid system such as Sydney’s, a train might be running between underground stations one minute, then on the surface sharing tracks with freight trains the next, we have double deck cars which are designed to reflect the longer distances travelled on suburban runs (60 or so kilometres) and the fact that people are going to value getting a seat more highly than frequent service. This means cars are designed with a lot of area given over to seating, and narrow aisles and doorways. These take longer to load. On a purely metro system like in Hong Kong or London, the distances are shorter, and people don’t mind having to stand if it means trading off your seat for a quicker trip. So, single deck cars are used with three or more wide doors per car, and minimal seating. These trains can load and unload hundreds of people in a few moments. Those doors close, and the train is outta there! This brings us to…

This is the interval between trains, or the maximum number of movements a given track can handle per hour. This is where pure metro systems have an advantage. In a hybrid system, a suburban train may share tracks with heavy long distance intercity trains, or even freight trains. The heaviest train (even if it’s only one or two of them a day) is the weakest link in the system, and the lineside signalling system needs to reflect that train’s increased stopping distance. This means the signals are spaced further apart, and then the trains are spaced further apart. On a pure metro system, with no heavy trains, and all trains having the same efficient stopping characteristics, the signals can be as close together as a train length, and that’s when you start getting Hong Kong levels of frequency (I have stood on Mong Kok station and seen the taillights of one train in one tunnel, and the headlights of the next - one minute headways). Once you have these tight headways in place, the only thing that really holds them back is…

Dwell Time (ii)
In a system with surface sections, wet weather is going to play some role in limiting traction, and drivers/motormen will take it a bit easier on approach to and departure from stations. That much is pretty obvious. What is less obvious (and is a big problem in my city) is the effect wet weather has on passenger behaviour. Vary few open air stations have a roof or awning running the entire length of the platform. Most are open to the elements, and only have a roof on the small platform building in the centre. This is only about two cars long. So what happens on an eight car train on a wet day? Everybody piles into the middle of the train - carriages crowded with people who have done the same thing at another station, and are trying to get out at this one - and the train sits there for a minute instead of twenty seconds, while folks do the commuter tango in the doorway. After doing this at every station on its run, it can arrive at the terminus a quarter of an hour late. Then the train has to turn around and form the next service, now leaving a quarter of an hour late, and arriving half an hour late at the other end. This doesn’t happen so much on subways, although people do still tend to hang around the bottom of the stairs or escalator.