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Melbourne from the Internet – Part 2

Alan Williams, 16th May 2005

Alan Williams’ second presentation to the London Area on Melbourne looked at recent developments to the network and explained the organisational changes that have taken place. The presentation was derived from information and photographs available on the Internet and shown in Powerpoint using our video projector.

Fleet renewal in the pre-privatisation era had produced several types of high floor bogie car built in Australia fitted with Swedish electrical equipment. The culmination of this series of designs was the introduction of Australia’s first fleet of articulated cars. The two private operators each bought a different design of European modular low-floor cars, M>Trams the German Combino, and Yarra Trams the French Citadis. Neither has been an unqualified success in operation on the established and not perfect infrastructure. It will be interesting to see future rolling stock orders as Melbourne is the only place where these competing designs can be evaluated on one undertaking.

In 1999 two private operators took the place of the former public undertaking as part of the policy of the State of Victoria to privatise virtually all utilities in the state. In the event the operations were claimed to be unprofitable and M>Trams withdrew from their contract after only three years and Yarra Trams now run all services. The presentation included information on the fares and ticketing system and its development which has been a major flaw in the two company privatisation.

Alan illustrated the relative stability of the network; a 1948 system map produced by John Gillham shows a very similar pattern to that in 2005. A few minor closures have taken place but these have been more than made up by various extensions. Firstly came the reintroduction of trams to the Bourke Street routes in the 1950s after an interim motor bus service that replaced the former cable car lines. As well as extensions to existing lines, the railway lines to Port Melbourne and St Kilda have been turned into light rail lines. New routes have been built into the Docklands area to the west of the traditional city centre in recent years. The most recent within only months before the presentation date.

Using pictures gathered from the Internet Alan was able to show changes over the years at many locations and cover recent activities. Creation of a Super Stop at the University with multiple reversing facilities for the services terminating there was followed by the recent renewal of the superb Grand Union at Balaclava Junction, shown in some detail. The talk was a good example of how modern technology enables us to keep up with developments almost anywhere in the world. The prolific material in English does make it easier but the Internet can be used to keep in touch in a way previously virtually impossible. The CD containing the presentation has been added to the London Area’s collection.

Alan Pearce, 22-05-05

London Area – 16th May 2005

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