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Non-standard Melbourne trams

Melbourne has had history of non-standard tramcar construction and operation. The reasons for such tramcars were varied - experimental designs such as PCC 980, tramcars built for special purposes such as the X2 single truck cars for service on local lines such as in Footscray, or the L class trams built by predecessors to the former Melbourne and Metropolitan Tramways Board. The VR class trams were purchased from the Victorian Railways after the closure of the St Kilda to Brghtontramway in 1959

During the late 1960's and early 1970's, there was an effort to standardise the types of trams in service to economise on maintenance costs, simplify drivers tasks, and ensure standardisation for passengers. The reasons for such cars surviving after withdrawal from regular passenger service are also varied - for example, the X2 and Y1 class trams were used for driver training out of the former Hawthorn Depot. A number of pictures show the trams as preserved.

Images of non-standard Melbourne Trams

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    Y1 class tram 613 in St Kilda Road awaiting to take its place in the Moomba Parade in March 2002. The Y1 class trams were a later version of the Y class tram 469 built some six years earlier. Their design, which allowed one-man operation, was way ahead of its time for Melbourne. It was not until some forty years later in the 1970's, that tramcars with this type of passenger door arrangement were again built for service in Melbourne. The Y1 class trams had some differences - the trucks of 613 are the same as the W3 class, whereas the trucks of 610 were of a different design. Due to a shortage of finance during the depression years of the 1930's, the full order for the Y1 class was not fulfilled and only four, 610-613 were built. They were based at Hawthorn Depot in their latter years, and I recall them being used on occasional peak hour runs to North Balwyn. On the closure of the Hawthorn Depot, they were withdrawn from regular service. Two were later utilised on driver instruction duty. At least one, 613 is now in Melbourne's historical tramcar fleet.

217

    X class tramcar 217 was photographed in St Kilda Road while taking part in the Moomba Tramway procession in March 2002. 217 was one of two Birney Trams purchased by the Melbourne and Metropolitan Tramways Board in the early 1920's. 217 mostly saw service on lightly trafficked lines such as Elsternwick to Point Ormond. 217 has now been preserved by the Tramway Museum Society of Victoria (Inc) and is shown here in its original colour scheme.


467

    X1 class tramcar 467 was photographed at the Tramway Museum at Bylands in November 2000. 467 was one of 10 single truck tramcars constructed by the Melbourne and Metropolitan Tramways Board in the late 1920's for use on lightly trafficked lines such as Elsternwick to Point Ormond and the Footscray tramways. It may be seen to represent a locally constructed version of the imported "X" class Birney trams. 467 has been preserved by the Tramway Museum Society of Victoria (Inc).


Melb676.jpg

    X2 class tramcar 676 was photographed in Maribyrnong Road, Ascot Vale, on a Tramway Museum Society of Victoria special tour in the early 1980's. It is painted in the historic chocolate and cream colour scheme, although this tram was not previously painted in this colour scheme.

    The X2 class trams were utilised on small isolated lines such as those which formerly operated in the Footscray area. They had some similar characteristics to the Y1 class trams, and represented in some respects an improvement on the X class "Birney" trams, imported from the United States of America some years previously. They were withdrawn from service in 1962 on the closure of the Footscray lines, but 676 survived, being based for many years at the Hawthorn Depot driver training school. 676 is now in the Melbourne historical tramcar fleet.


Melb101.jpg

    "L" class tram 101 was photographed at the West Preston terminus in Gilbert Road on a Tramway Muesum Society of Victoria tour. Six of these trams were built for the Prahran and Malvern Tramways Trust (P&MTT). These were the last trams built for the P&MTT and were the Trusts only four motor cars. They were the predecessor to the 406 W. W1 and W2 class trams built later for the Melbourne and Metropolitan Tramways Board. They were based for many years at Glenhuntly Depot, but were moved to other locations. Several remained in service until the 1970s, seeing service when there was an occasional shortage of trams such as in 1972 when there was a shortage of trams due to some being damaged in floodwater. Two, 104 and 106 were painted in a chocolate and cream colour scheme and are now in the Melbourne historical tramcar fleet.

164

    "S" class tram 164 was photographed in St Kilda Road at Nolan Street while taking part in the Moomba Tramway procession in March 2002. 164 was originally constructed for the Melbourne, Brunswick and Coburg Tramways Trust, before being acquired by the Melbourne and Metropolitan Tramways Board. 164 has been preserved by the Tramway Museum Society of Victoria Inc. 164 was the first Melbourne electric tramcar to be preserved, having been acquired, originally by the Australian Electric Association in 1953.

180

    "T" class tram 180 was photographed inside Hawthorn Depot in May 2003. 180 was originally constructed for the Melbourne, Brunswick and Coburg Tramways Trust, before being acquired by the Melbourne and Metropolitan Tramways Board. 180 features the unusual Brill "Radiax" truck which enabled easier negotiation of curves by this longer wheelbase truck. 180 has been preserved by the Tramway Museum Society of Victoria Inc.

v214

    "V" class tram V214 was photographed in Swanston Street, City after taking part in the Moomba Tramway procession in March 2000. V214 was originally constructed for the North Melbourne Electric Tramway and Lighting Company in 1906, before being acquired by the Melbourne and Metropolitan Tramways Board. V214 is now in the Melbourne historical tramcar fleet and has been converted back to its original crossbench seating configuration. It was renumbered from 214 to avoid confusion with "Z3" class tram 214.

Melb980.jpg

    PCC class tramcar 980 was photographed in Nicholson Street, North Fitzroy, outside the North Fitzroy Depot in early 1966. 980 was bound for City-Spencer Street from East Brunswick on route 96. This photo, which was taken for me by my father, was probably the first tram photo taken for me. PCC 980 was built in 1950 and fitted with imported Clark B3 trucks of the President's Conference Committee design. This car was built with a locally designed body that was very different to that in vogue in the United States and Canada. 980 was withdrawn from regular service in the late 1960s or early 1970's. In 1973, the trucks were used in the construction of tramcar 1041, the prototype of Melbourne's Z class trams. The body of 980 has been preserved by the Tramway Museum Society of Victoria Limited.


VR54.jpg

    VR class tramcar number 54 was photographed at the rear of the Melbourne and Metropolitan Tramways Board's (M&MTB) Preston Workshops in May 1967. 54 was one of three trams purchased by the M&MTB from the Victorian Railways (VR) in 1959 after the closure of the VR's St Kilda to Brighton line. 54 was built in 1942 by the Victorian Railways. The other two VR class trams, 52 and 53 were upgraded and converted to standard gauge tramcar operation; however 54 was not converted and is seen here with its somewhat faded VR colour scheme. Judging by the scrawl on the drivers window of 54, it would seem that 54 was not well regarded by at least on member of the workshop's staff!

53

    VR class tramcar number 53, one of the two VR trams converted for service by the M&MTB, was photographed in Rosamond Road about to turn into River Street, Maribyrnong, bound for Footscray in the late 1960's.

018

    Bombardier brought out Eurotram Oporto 018 to Australia for demonstration purposes. 018 was seen here in Harbour Boulevard, Docklands, whilst on a lunchtime layover from operating a special service from Docklands to East Melbourne in January 2003.


Acknowledgements: Special thanks to David Wilson for scanning some of the black and white images from the original negatives. Special thanks also to my father, Ken Mottram, for taking the picture of 980.

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Last update: 27/12/2003