Dudley Snell

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Dudley Snell
Born Frederick Dudley Snell
(1924-12-14)14 December 1924
Eaglehawk, Victoria, Australia
Died 14 December 1988(1988-12-14) (aged 64)
Hong Kong
Nationality Australian
  • Engineer
  • Tramways administrator
Known for MMTB Chairman (1970–1976)

Frederick Dudley Snell (14 December 1924 – 14 December 1988) was an Australian electrical engineer and tramways administrator. He grew up in Bendigo and following his education worked for the State Electricity Commission of Victoria. After serving in the Royal Australian Air Force during World War II, he commenced work at the Melbourne and Metropolitan Tramways Board (MMTB) in 1953, being appointed the MMTB's fifth and last Chairman in 1976. Following the dissolving of the MMTB into the Metropolitan Transit Authority (MTA) in 1983, he became General Manager of the MTA Bus and Tram Division. Snell worked for the MMTB, MTA, and Leighton on Hong Kong's Tuen Mun light rail system, and died in Hong Kong in 1988.

Early life[edit]

Frederick Dudley Snell was born in Eaglehawk, Victoria on 14 December 1924.[1][2] He was educated at Eaglehawk State School and later attended the Bendigo School of Mines where he attained a Diploma of Electrical Engineering.[1][2][3] In 1940 Snell commenced a cadetship with the State Electricity Commission of Victoria (SEC).[1][2] During World War Two, he served with the Royal Australian Air Force, primarily in New Guinea.[1] On 4 December 1948 he married Joan Buckie, with whom he had two daughters.[2]

Melbourne and Metropolitan Tramways Board[edit]

In 1953 Snell left the SEC, and started working at the Melbourne and Metropolitan Tramways Board (MMTB) as an electrical engineer. He was later promoted to Methods Engineer, and was appointed Chief Engineer in 1969. In 1970 Snell became the MMTB's Deputy Chairman under Francis Kirby. He succeeded Kirby as Chairman in 1976 for a five-year term, which was renewed in 1981.[1][2]

Snell faced the same financial challenges as Kirby did as Chairman of the MMTB, but nonetheless managed some reforms.[4] New ticketing systems, which arrested patronage declines by making public transport more cost effective, were implemented under his administration.[3] Additional Z-class trams and new Volvo B59 and MAN buses were also ordered under Snell,[3] and he also raised the introduction of trolley buses.[5]

Snell's era also saw the first tram extensions since 1956, made with an extension from East Burwood to Middleborough Road opening on 23 July 1978, and from East Preston to Boldrewood Parade opening on 19 May 1983.[3] However, the little-used Holden Street line was abandoned under Snell.[3] Despite these reforms, the MMTB remained in a poor financial situation, and the shift from purchasing to leasing buses later become a financial liability for the Cain Labor government.[3][4][6]

Snell was critical to the MMTB's successful involvement in the construction and operation of Hong Kong's Tuen Mun light rail systems.[4][6]

Metropolitan Transit Authority[edit]

Public transport in Victoria was reorganised on 1 July 1983, with Melbourne's railway services and MMTB tram and bus services amalgamated into the Metropolitan Transit Authority (MTA), leaving Snell the MMTB's final chairman.[2][3][6] Snell continued working with the Melbourne tramway system, as General Manager of the MTA's Bus and Tram Division, also managing the MTA's interests in the Tuen Mun light rail system.[2]

Tuen Mun light rail[edit]

Comeng built Tuen Mun light rail vehicle 1070, named in honour of Snell.

Snell retired from the MTA in 1985 and relocated to Hong Kong to work for Leighton Contractors, who were involved in consortium with the MTA, becoming project manager of the Tuen Mun light rail.[2] The light rail opened in September 1988, with Snell commenting that opening day was "packed in true Hong Kong style".[7]

Snell died in Hong Kong on 14 December 1988.[2] He was survived by his wife Joan and their two daughters.[2][8]

Organisational involvement[edit]

Snell was on the Management Committee of the International Union of Public Transport (UIPT), the first Australian representative, and was founding member of the UIPT Light Rail Commission.[2] In this capacity, he aided in the creation of Light Rail Transit standards,[8] and was one of a group of three Members of the Commission who presented at the UITP 46th International Congress in Brussels in May 1985.[2] Snell's work in advocating for light rail saw him elected as the Honorary Vice President of the Light Rail Transit Association of the UK.[2]

Along with his Diploma of Electrical Engineering, he was a graduate of the Australian Administrative Staff College, and held professional affiliations as a member of The Institution of Engineers Australia, and a fellow of The Chartered Institute of Transport. He served as vice-chairman of the general committee of the latter institute for eight years.[2] He was also involved in Rotary International from 1978, being active in Melbourne Rotary and in the Welfare of the Young Committee.[2]


  1. ^ a b c d e "Proceedings of the sixth conference of Australasian tramway museums" (PDF). Council of Tramway Museums of Australasia. 1982. p. 16. Retrieved 30 June 2015. 
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o "Obituary - Mr. F.D. Snell" (PDF). Trolley Wire (236): 11. 1989. Retrieved 30 June 2015. [permanent dead link]
  3. ^ a b c d e f g Jones, Russell (2004). "Fares please! An economic history of the Melbourne & Metropolitan Tramways Board: Descent into the red". Friends of Hawthorn Tram Depot. Retrieved 30 June 2015. 
  4. ^ a b c Jones, Russel (2004). "Fares please! An economic history of the Melbourne & Metropolitan Tramways Board: Assessment of leadership". Friends of Hawthorn Tram Depot. Retrieved 30 June 2015. 
  5. ^ Carman, Gerry (2 January 1980). "Plans for super trains, buses". The Age. Google News. Retrieved 30 June 2015. 
  6. ^ a b c Jones, Russel (2006). "The Economic History of the M&MTB: How trams survived in Melbourne" (PDF). COTMA. Retrieved 30 June 2015. 
  7. ^ "Light rail project in Hong Kong meets both budget... and lucky target date" (PDF). The Leighton Newsletter. CIMIC Group. 1988. pp. 9–10. Retrieved 30 June 2015. 
  8. ^ a b "Dudley Snell" (PDF). The Leighton Newsletter. CIMIC Group. 1989. p. 4. Retrieved 30 June 2015.