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Time and Motion: Chronometry and the Railway Timetables of New South Wales, 1855-1906

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Abstract Timetables are part of the textual infrastructure of travel and mobility. As a way of “envisioning information,” they came into being with the advent of rail. As an important document of quotidian life, important to navigating modern space, railway timetables encapsulate a modernist horology, ‘contemporality.’ They are an element of the culture of calculation that Georg Simmel describes in his essay on urban life. Yet timetables have not received the attention that is their due. In this paper I redress this and analyse the early timetables of New South Wales, Australia. I argue that as well as inducting the travelling public into the new horology, timetables also—because their contents were not limited to temporal matters—inducted them into the mobility and spatial practices associated with railway culture.

Affiliations: 1: Faculty of Human Sciences, Macquarie University North Ryde, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia 2109, Email:; 2: Faculty of Human Sciences, Macquarie University North Ryde, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia 2109


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