UPDATE: Melbourne 496 is now scheduled regularly on the E-line on Saturdays and Sundays, until further notice.
An old friend will be carrying all comers on the E-line from Caltrain to Fisherman’s Wharf this weekend. Melbourne tram 496, built in 1928, is back in revenue service for the first time since last September’s Muni Heritage Weekend.
The Melbourne tram is scheduled to fill regular E-line run 201 both Saturday and Sunday, February 3-4. Its GPS is said to be operational so its exact location should show up on our E-line NextMuni map. It is scheduled to pass the Ferry Building on its first Wharf-bound trip at 8:54 a.m. both days.
Quite coincidentally, the Melbourne tram is back in revenue service exactly two weeks before its 90th birthday. (It was put into service on February 18, 1928, according to this authoritative Australian website.
Another coincidence: its reappearance comes 100 years to the day after streetcars first ran through the Twin Peaks Tunnel.
The E-line has had severe equipment shortages of late. Because the southern terminal is stub-ended and not a loop or wye, only double-ended equipment can serve it. Muni has seven double-end PCCs but one of these, Car 1015, has left San Francisco for its scheduled rebuilding at Brookville Equipment Company after 22 years of hard service. Two other double-end PCCs restored back in the 1990s with 1015, Cars 1007 and 1010, are out of service at the moment as is another double-ended PCC receiving a radio upgrade.
Market Street Railway has been urging Muni leadership since before the E-line even opened to be prepared to run operational double-end vintage streetcars, such as Melbourne 496 and Muni’s own Car 1, to ensure E-line service is kept at promised levels. We are pleased to see Car 496 on the streets again to help provide better E-line service.
Meanwhile, a “younger” Melbourne tram, the 916, built in 1946, is at the heavy overhaul shop at Green Division getting its rebuilt trucks refitted. We hope that car, which like 496 is highly reliable, will be available for E-line duty soon.
We will have a more complete story on E-line developments in the next edition of our member magazine, Inside Track. If you’re not a Market Street Railway, you can get it by joining here.