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As types of average (in the mathematical sense, excluding such nonmathematical uses as 'an average person') we've mentioned mean, median and mode. Complicating it, there are other mathematical senses of 'average'. For example, one can take the geometric average of n numbers.¹ And what is your 'average' speed if you drive to your destination at 30 mph, and then return to your starting point (by the same route) at 60 mph? (Hint: the average speed is not 45 mph.) The sort of 'average' you're talking about here is called (I think) the harmonicc mean. ¹ Multiply them together, and then take the nth root of the product.  

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Average has several meanings in the insurance industry. In Marine insurance, ‘average’ means loss and ‘particular average’ means partial loss. See also ‘General Average’. If a policy is ‘subject to average’, then, if the sum insured at the time of a loss is less than the actual value of the property insured, then the amount of claimed under the policy will be reduced in proportion to the underinsurance. In mathematical terms: Allowable Claim = Loss x Sum Insured Value at risk If you do not insure for the full values at risk, then you may not be able to obtain a full settlement of any loss. See also “First Loss”.  

Member 
If your journey is 30 miles, then, making no allowance for turnaround, the journey out will take 1 hour and the journey back will take half an hour. Total 1.5 hours. 60 divided by 1.5 equals 40. Or that's what I reckon, anyway. Richard English  

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This used to cause all sorts of problems when people put in claims to my agency for partial loss of baggage. If their baggage was insured for, say, £300 and they lost one item  a designer item, say, that was valued at £250  they couldn't see why their claim was reduced because of the average clause. I used to say to them, "If you've got one item in your bag that's really expensive and worth £250  how come everything else is of such poor quality and low value?" That used to do the trick! Richard English  

Member 
A news item in the travel press today is interesting and relevant to the railways discussion. 'COMPETITION from high speed TGV trains could see Air France cut as much as 25% of its domestic workforce by 2016. A statement issued by the carrier on Fri said “We expect that the competition with the TGV will increase, and we have informed the unions of our plans to adapt the organisation”.' Richard English  

Member 
Yes. Expressed mathematically, what you've with the initial 30 and 60 mph is this:
 

Member 
Note that the harmonic means method works because the distances traveled are equal and the times spent at each speed are not. You spend more time going 30 than 60, so the mean is closer to 30 than 60. If you drive 30 mph for an hour and then 60 mph for an hour, your mean velocity is 45 mph.  

Member 
Sounds like they plan to shamelessly neglect some routes.  

Member 
Hacking through statistics and train service, I revert to the initial theme of wordsforletters. As an exercise I once complied a list of the worst possible such words I could find. I invite this erudite group to improve upon it: Aestivate Bdelloid Cephalopod, chanukah, chiaroscuro, chlamys, chthonian, cynosure, czar Djbouti. Ennui. Fiscal Gnome Hanukkah Introit Jejune Knight, knob Lladro Mnemosyne Night, nob Oenology Phlegm, phthisis, pterodactyl Quay Retch Sinecure, syzygy Tsar, tsunami Uxorious Velleity Wraith, wretch Xylem Ytterbium Zymurgy, zygodactyl RJA  

Member 
No doubt. But there is a massive difference between reducing an airline schedule between two points, which leaves the infrastructure completely unaffected, and closing a rail route with the attendant removal of the track, stations, bridges, cuttings, tunnels and all the other things that make up enroute rail infrastructure. Richard English  

Member 
Precisely! That's why we prefer investment in air travel to more expensive highmaintenance Victorian technology.  

Member 
All forms of transport have their advantages and disadvantages, costs being just one. Air travel is not necessarily cheaper than rail travel  or vices versa. It depends on many factors, including, but not limited to, distance, passenger numbers, topography and political situation. For example, air routes are usually easier to set up, needing no track, but the cost of operating an aircraft is far higher per passenger mile than the cost of operating a train (or come to that, a 'bus). One flight from New York to Chicago will be much cheaper than one rail journey if you first have to lay the track. But once the track and infrastructure is installed, the variable costs of train operation are much lower and, eventually, once the initial building costs have been amortised, then the train will be cheaper to operate. Richard English  
