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The electrification of the Melbourne suburban rail network has historical importance both nationally and internationally.
On a national level, it was the first large-scale electric transport network, preceded only by a few electric street tramways. The first electric railway line in Sydney did not begin until 1926, and the only other Australian cities to have an electrified rail network are Brisbane, which did not convert its lines until 1979, and Perth, which began electric services in 1991.
On an international level, the Melbourne suburban network was, at the time of its completion, the largest electrified service converted from steam operation in the world, and its power generating capacity was unsurpassed in the Southern Hemisphere.
In January 1924, the Victorian Railways Magazine noted that the only comparable system would be the recently approved electrification of the Chikako Lake Shore lines, based on a similar 1500 DC overhead transfer. The adoption of this type of systems for the Melbourne electrification systems was a bold move, as in 1912 as no railway had installed an overhead system with a pressure of 1500 volts DC. In this respect, the Melbourne electrification scheme became the model for later installations in England, France, Holland, Brazil, Japan, New Zealand and India.