Railpage Australia

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Railpage Australia
Web address railpage.com.au
Type of site Railway enthusiast website
Owner Brian Evans
Created by Railpage Development Team
Launched Circa 1992
Alexa rank negative increase 310,908 (April 2014)[1]
Current status online

Railpage Australia is a privately owned and run website focusing on railways within Australia and Oceania. The site was run by volunteers, and provided free or reduced-cost internet services to not-for-profit railway organizations and preservation groups.[2] It has been quoted as a source in major state and national newspapers, as well as in government and private research publications.

General[edit]

Railpage is the largest railway-oriented web-site in Australia[3] and was among the first 100 web sites to be hosted in Australia.[4]

The site allows railway enthusiasts to find and exchange pictures, news and information relating to mainly Australian trains and railway infrastructure. The site includes a user photo database, discussion forums, a chat room and a railway news section.

The discussion forums are divided into separate sections, such as Australian based discussions, heritage interest groups, and overseas railways.

Although around 50 percent[5] of forum users in 2006 were under 26 years of age, nearly a quarter of contributors were involved in the rail industry.[6] Approximately 40% of the site visitors come from Australia, while 36% come from India.[1]

History[edit]

Railpage started in 1992 as a cfingerd service on David Bromage's account on Monash University's general access Unix server. Anybody could finger the account and view the indexpage, and further view the railpage. The name lives on.

The content of the finger service was translated to an experimental web site in July 1994. Early content included a repository of Australian railway timetables,[7] inspired by a contemporary project in the United States.[citation needed]

In January 1995, Brian Evans suggested to David Bromage that Railpage (which at that point comprised static web pages) could be further developed. The two began to develop the site further, and later transferred it to a dedicated server.

The site gained its own domain name (railpage.org.au) in January 1997.

On 11 January 2003, Railpage introduced an on-line forums service using the open source PhpBB forum software.

Assuming the role of Project Director and site owner, (which he still maintains today), Brian Evans proposed the website enter a new development phase, involving the introduction of a Content Management System (CMS). The site had accumulated a significant number of unique URLs and was becoming increasingly harder to maintain. A solution to provide content owners with an ability to create and maintain content at the site became a priority.

Late in 2003, after several months of development and with the help of several developers and testers; RP2 was launched on Saturday 10 April 2004 at approximately 5pm. While at the time the portal structure was primitive and contained a number of bugs present in all Nuke releases - the portal offered a number of new services to users including an image gallery and news feeds.

As of January 2008, the site receives in excess of 1000 posts per day, and over 62,000 unique visitors and 13,000,000 hits per month. The domain www.railpage.com.au alone serves in excess of 30 gigabytes of data per month.[8] As of April 2008, the site had reached 16,000 registered users and 1,000,000 posts.[9]

The site was turned off on 22 January 2010, but had been reconnected as of 14 May, that year. It was down due to a fall out at Digital River's headquarters.[citation needed]

On 1 January 2012 Railpage launched a rebuilt website, including a new visual theme and a new lineside locations database. The backend changes include less database queries per page, caching to further reduce server load and large chunks of code rewritten to introduce more modern and efficient code into the site.

On 1 January 2013 the site went through a further development phase with a long list of new featured added to the service. As at April 2013 the new features included a Locomotive Database, Sightings Database, and a locations database. Much work has been completed integrating Railpage with Google Maps and also Flickr. Railpage now offers users the ability to tag their rail based flickr images with special machine tags which display photographs of locomotives across Australia. An example of this feature can be found at H1 Victorian Class Diesel

As At March 2013 planning for an iPhone application had commenced.

Further software releases are planned throughout 2013 with the system currently stable on v3.5.[10]

Significance[edit]

Railpage is used as a reference source for railway information in Australia, in particular with the Federal and State governments.

In December 2003, Railpage and the Australasian Railway Association helped the then Australian Geological Survey Organisation (now Geoscience Australia) produce the Railways of Australia thematic map.[11] Railpage was used as a secondary source of information by the Australian Bureau of Statistics in 2004.[12] and as a source by the Museum of Victoria in preparing its Victorian Railways history portal.[13] It was sole source of reference in the Wyndham City Council's Tram Investigation Study.[14]

In recognition of its educational merit, Railpage is included in Education Network Australia (edna): a list of approved school resources as a directory of resources on Australian railways.[15][not in citation given]

In February 2007, the Bureau of Transport and Regional Economics used information posted in a Railpage hosted site, "Gheringhap Loop", to produce an information paper on rail freight activity data.[16] In the forward, the Executive Director of BTRE states (in part) "Following the growth in private train operations...rail freight activity data became increasingly scarce. The lack of data can be a challenge for the BTRE in providing the government with timely and accurate information about trends in Australian freight transport....In the meantime, the BTRE has investigated other potential data sources, including information from railway enthusiasts."

As of July 2007, Railpage had five citations on Google Scholar.[relevant? ][17]

The Parliament of Australia lists Railpage as a key internet link on transport economics and transport law for Members and Senators.[18][19] Railpage is also used as a resource by senior State Government Members of Parliament and Officials.[where?][20][not in citation given]

Some significant people have participated in to the forums in an official or unofficial capacity, including the former president of the Public Transport Users Association Daniel Bowen[21] and the Fare Policy Manager of Public Transport Victoria Adrian Webb.[22] Television presenter Scott McGregor has participated in a live chat on the web site.[23] The then Victorian Director of Public Transport Jim Betts[24] briefly contributed.

The co-founder, David Bromage, has been featured in media articles and interviews including one by ABC radio on the history of the XPT[25][not in citation given] and trainspotting[26][not in citation given] with Railpage cited as a source for further information. Other staff including Michael Greenhill and James Morgan have participated in media coverage about Railpage.[3][not in citation given]

Hosting services[edit]

Railpage, is hosted by SISgroup in Sydney, Australia. From 1999 to 2004, Railpage hosted the popular Vicsig web site,[27] and continues to provide internet services to the Seymour Railway Heritage Centre. Other hosting includes the Diamond Valley Railway at Eltham,[28] the Australian Association of TimeTable Collectors,[29] and the Australian Society of Section Car Operators[30][not in citation given]amongst others.

Technical[edit]

Railpage Australia was based on PHP-Nuke,[31] however as times wears on it bears less and less resemblance to the original release. Its code base was PHP and the back end database runs MySQL.

A new server was sourced in late June 2007 to take over the task of handling both Railpage and the other websites hosted by Railpage. The migration of the main Railpage website to the new server was completed on 3 July 2007, and launched on 5 July 2007.[32]

Site development staff[edit]

The Railpage codebase was the collaborative work of a number of users. Early code contributors were David Bromage (dbromage) and Brian Evans (bevans), who were later joined by James Morgan (webslave), Michael Greenhill (michaelgreenhill), Lionel Camilleri (loco), and James Holt (jholt). All site staff were volunteers who undertake all management and development tasks including server configuration and maintenance(as the site is self-hosted).

Railpage Railcam Network[edit]

During the period of 2010-2011 Railpage embarked on a bold project to design, install and maintain a number of IP Webcams or "Railcams" at key locations across the Victorian Railway Freight Network. The first location chosen as the initial IP Webcam site is located at Bunbury Street with discussions on Railpage at Railpage - Bunbury Street Railcam Project

Since being installed the flickr based photostream has received over 1.7 million views and now holds in excess of 130,000 images (as at April 2013) a permanent record of all rail activity in and out of Melbourne's vital Port infrastructure. Direct access to the camera photostream is available at: - Railpage - Bunbury Street Photostream

In March 2013 Railpage added a second location at Gheringhap on the ARTC managed interstate Rail Network.[33] The plan for Gheringhap was for a similar design to Bunbury Street which is located on the South Kensington – West Footscray railway line

There are plans to complete the installation with two HD cameras. Currently only 1 camera has been installed with updates available for viewing at: Railpage Australia Gheringhap Loop Railcam with the number of images available for viewing steadily rising. Detailed information on the type and frequency of trains passing through this location can be accessed at: Gheringhap Loop Website Access to the cameras is available via the Melbourne Wireless network which has been extended to the Gheringhap location from a location in Geelong

Management of the Camera Network is undertaken by a group of Railcam maintainers located on the Railpage Portal. The projects ultimate aim is permanently record of rail traffic through the above interconnect points recording the changing face of mainline railways in Australia.

Railpage has plans for a number of new installations which include Hamilton in Victoria and also in Adelaide in South Australia.[34] Also being developed is a Digital asset management system to store and archive all new images from the camera network.

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b "Railpage.com.au Site Info". Alexa Internet. Retrieved 2014-04-01. 
  2. ^ Railpage hosting notice
  3. ^ a b "Full Head of Steam". Heidelberg and Valley Weekly. 26 September 2006. pp. 10–11. 
  4. ^ In June 1994, one month before Railpage was translated to a web site, there were only around 3000 websites in the world.[1] At the time Australia had between 2 and 3 percent of total world Internet presence.[2][3]
  5. ^ Your age as at 1 June 2006, a poll taken of forum users (140 responses), retrieved 9 March 2007.
  6. ^ What is your occupation?, a poll taken of forum users (121 responses), retrieved 10 March 2007.
  7. ^ Romney, Jason (24 October 1994). "Thomas the Cyber Engine". The Age. 
  8. ^ Usage stats from the new server
  9. ^ Forums footer, which gives the number of users and posts
  10. ^ Railpage 3.5 Release discussions
  11. ^ "NATMAP Railways of Australia". Geoscience Australia. Retrieved 2007-07-23. 
  12. ^ Statsercise 3 2004 (PDF). Canberra, Australia: Australian Bureau of Statistics. 2004. Retrieved 2007-07-23. 
  13. ^ "Resources, Victorian Railways, Museum Victoria, Australia". Retrieved 2007-07-23. 
  14. ^ "Wyndham City Council Meeting Notes" (PDF). 2005-08-15. Archived from the original on 2007-09-09. Retrieved 2007-07-23. 
  15. ^ "Education Network Australia (edna)". Retrieved 2008-12-10. 
  16. ^ Filling a gap in rail data: an investigation of the Gheringhap Loop train sightings (PDF). Canberra, Australia: Bureau of Transport and Regional Economics. 2007. p. 15. Retrieved 2007-07-23. 
  17. ^ "Railpage - Google Scholar". Retrieved 2007-07-23. 
  18. ^ "Economics Internet Resources: Transport". Parliament of Australia Parliamentary Library. Retrieved 2007-07-23. 
  19. ^ "Law Internet Resources: Transport Law". Parliament of Australia Parliamentary Library. Retrieved 2007-07-23. 
  20. ^ "It's safer to say it with flowers". Melbourne: The Age. 10 March 2008. Retrieved 2008-03-31. 
  21. ^ "Railpage Australia Forums - Profile of 'dbowen'". Retrieved 2007-07-30. 
  22. ^ "Railpage Australia Thread - 'Jim Betts - Questions & Answers'". Retrieved 2007-07-30. 
  23. ^ "Railpage Australia - 'Q&A Chat Session with Scott McGregor, 16/12/2004". Retrieved 2007-07-30. 
  24. ^ "Railpage Australia Thread - 'Questions and Answers with Jim Betts'". Retrieved 2007-07-30. 
  25. ^ "XPT 20 years on". ABC Riverina NSW. 8 April 2002. 
  26. ^ "Trainspotting". ABC Goldfields WA. 24 September 2003. Retrieved 2007-07-23. [dead link]
  27. ^ "About Vicsig". Retrieved 2007-07-23. 
  28. ^ "Diamond Valley Railway". Retrieved 2007-07-23. 
  29. ^ "Australian Association of TimeTable Collectors". Retrieved 2007-07-23. 
  30. ^ "Australian Society of Section Car Operators". Retrieved 2007-07-23. 
  31. ^ The footer of every page generation contains the PHP-Nuke copyright and version information
  32. ^ New server ahoy!
  33. ^ Gheringhap Loop Railcam Project
  34. ^ Adelaide Railcam Project

External links[edit]