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G'Day! Melbourne Tram Returns to Service

gday.jpg
SFMTA photo.

It was indeed a good day yesterday (January 16), when Muni's refreshed Melbourne tram debuted on the F-Market & Wharves line. The 1929 tram's return to service showed off a fresh paint job and spiffy side panel markings identifying its home town, along with new, discreet running lights to meet state Public Utilities Commission standards. The identifying decals are courtesy of the State of Victoria, of which Melbourne is the capital. It's part of a growing cooperative effort, facilitated by Market Street Railway, which includes provision of spare parts for our 496, without cost to Muni. It may even lead to the donation of a second Melbourne tram of the SW6 class, a fully operational post-war version of the tram we have now, equipped with center section doors and other upgrades. (Read more about the SW6 class here.)

But that's a prospect for tomorrow. For now, enjoy the return of 496, showing off the great work of Muni's shops crew. When Victoria Minister of Tourism Tim Holding dedicated the car at the ceremony yesterday, he paid tribute to that crew along with Muni management and Market Street Railway for taking such great care of Melbourne's heritage.

» Second Melbourne Tram Joins Historic F-line Streetcar Fleet
» About Melbourne SW6 Tram No. 916
» About Melbourne W2 Tram No. 496

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And the car was greeted with great pleasure by Melbourne natives today!

btw here’s a youtube video that was posted on SFist: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kvbZxaqHj84

That video shows what a good job Muni did on the car. Roof looks terrible in that 2007 video. Also the logos on the side of the car look real good, better than those blank panels.

I visited Melbourne about 8 years ago, and got a “behind the scenes” look at some of their preserved trams. Two types that caught my eye were the “Y” and “Y-1” cars, which had a body design that looked like a “left-handed Pacific Electric Hollywood car”. I doubt if the Aussies would let any of these leave Melbourne, but they’d be good for “E” line operation. Only catch is they’d require a two-person crew, but I think the SW6 also requires a conductor.
According to the “F” cars roster, there’s another “W” tram (586) tucked away, waiting for restoration. I presume it will have to wait until Muni 1, the TCRT/NJT PCC’s and maybe some “native Muni” PCC’s are restored to operation.

I think the “embargo” on Melbourne trams goes back to the 1990’s. “W” cars that came to the US run (or ran) in Seattle (Waterfront Trolley, currently on “hiatus”), Memphis TN, Dallas TX (MATA line), San Jose (one was used on the now-suspended VTA heritage operation), Savannah GA (powered by bio-diesel system) and a tourist line in Minnesota. I’m not sure what Melbourne Metro was worried about; the total number of cars exported was about 15 to 20. When I visited, there were dozens of “W” cars in dead storage; many weren’t even on rails—just sitting on a concrete floor. At least they weren’t piled up three and four high like the LATL and PE cars on Terminal Island back in the 1950’s.

While the embargo continues, exceptions can be made by the state government, which actually owns the trams. They sent one to Denmark last year. So it’s at their discretion.

Actually, they’re pretty easy to maintain, and quite reliable.

That’s great news about the second Melbourne tram. I still haven’t gotten to ride it, but that will double my chances.

Any word on getting that second Melbourne trolley?

There is a Melbourne X-1 which is fully operational and for sale. Goto railwaypreservation.com and then click the link about Australian trams

The X-1, essentially an Australian Birney, was a spec rehab by some entrepreneurs (there are actually two, or were). We’ve considered it; it’s a fine restoration, but it makes no sense to acquire any additional small trams. They just can’t carry the loads.

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