Saturday, February 13, 2016

Hammering Trams

Melbourne has the largest tram system in the world by route measurement. Ours pales into insignificance against Sydney's former tram system, finally closed down in 1961. Sydney's tram system was much bigger than Melbourne's because Melbourne invested heavily in the train system rather than such an extensive tram system.

In spite of Melbourne having the largest tram system, it is also one of the world's slowest, much hampered by tram cars mixing with motor cars on congested roads. It is legacy system from years past. Most new systems being built are separated from cars as is the terrific new Gold Coast tram line, and I hope the about to be built new Sydney tram equals the Gold Coast tram for speed and priority over motor cars.

Nevertheless, Melbourne's tram system is very popular, at times overwhelmed by its popularity with very crowded vehicles. At times you would think Melbourne has the fastest system in the world where the trams get absolutely hammered by drivers using maximum acceleration and braking. I have travelled on trams in Budapest, England, Amsterdam, Toronto and Australia's Gold Coast and Sydney and nowhere have I experienced trams being driven like Melbourne's trams are at times. I can only put it down to our trams always running late.

It is no wonder they are often late when the authorities allow cars to queue across city intersections thereby preventing trams in the cross streets to proceed. It is illegal to enter an intersection unless you can clear the intersection, yet nothing is ever done about this.

Well, I was having a good old rant there but I am not sure where I was going now when I started this a couple of months ago.

Here are some photos then.

Before going out I often check to see what people on the street are wearing as a weather indicator. Up high on the balcony one can get a false impression, especially of wind but temperature too. Another indicator is the air conditioning fan on top of the German made Siemens Combino trams Once the temperature reaches 25 degrees, the air conditioning runs pretty well flat out and I can see the fans on various trams spinning. The one in the photo is not spinning, but if the next tram along has a spinning fan, it must be warm but not too hot. If they are all spinning, then it is hot. As you can imagine, if the air con is running non stop at 25 degrees, imagine when it is 40 degrees. Hopeless!


Southbank Tram Depot was closed down when the intersection of Whiteman and Clarendon Streets was reconstructed. The trams still ran on part of the route and were stored somewhere where the access to their normal route was via St Kilda Road, so there were some very odd tram bell sounds. These are big trams. Look, the one tram fills the entire trams stop. It is about 34 metres long. But Sydney's new trams will be 66 metres long.


Here it is against one of our 80s trams very loosely connected with a Swedish design, one of the usual trams we use to get to town or elsewhere. The big trams did not pick up people along the way  and I suppose displayed something like Sorry, Not Carrying Customers. Tram passengers are now customers. A better destination display might be, Out of Service.

26 comments:

  1. Andrew I love trams and I have to check our Silesian Trams

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    1. Gosia, yes plenty of trams in Poland, but not up in the mountains.

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  2. What a great weather indicator. Have you ever been on the trams in Manchester which also share the roads?

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    1. Marie, not really. Just one night in a hotel after the train from the north and our flight home. Pity as from what you have said and shown and other people, I think I would like it.

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  3. I am wondering just how good (or bad) our light rail will be when it finally arrives.
    Love your weather indicators...

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    1. EC, it depends on the political will really. The GC light rail has no problems interrupting the traffic flow on the GC Highway upon its immediate arrival at where it crosses. Adelaide rebuilt its tram line to Glenelg and was very wishy washy about tram priority and so you can spend a long time in the tram at traffic lights. Melbourne is pretty hopeless too.

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  4. I lived in sheffield with its own tram system
    I miss them still

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    1. John, Sheffield was an early convert to new trams/light rail and I'm sure the city is all the better for it.

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  5. I'm not keen on the planned long trams for the extension to Sydney's system. They seem like a recipe for traffic grid lock to me. I also suspect they will be an excuse for a low frequency service.

    I hope I am proved wrong.

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    1. Victor, I can't see the gridlock happening but you are probably correct about a less frequent service. An amateur could tell in the first plan that it would be overwhelmed with numbers immediately.

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  6. We used to have trams in this little city, but they were eliminated not long after I was born so I have no memory of them... rather wish I did.

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    1. Cranky, you mean in Indianapolis or your own town?

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    2. My own town, but it holds true for Indianapolis as well.

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    3. I'll take a look.

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  7. Anonymous10:57 am

    I go into town just after rush-hour and return home just before evening rush hour. Great, if you can arrange it thus.
    Hels

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    1. Very civilised hours to work, Hels.

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  8. I find myself wishing that people way back then, had thought ahead and possibly looked into a crystal ball too, then kept the old tram systems and upgraded as well as added to them over the years.
    our trams often run a little late, but not much, certainly not as late or as often late as our buses. Queueing across intersections here is rarely seen, certainly if a tram line crosses the road there are traffic lights to keep the cars back.

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    1. River, after WWII most Australian tram systems were quite run down after the depression and then the war and it was so easy for the car/oil/tyre companies to push governments towards buses. Some of the tram systems were really dilapidated. But then cities like Brisbane were still building new trams in the 1960s, only to have that system shut down by 1969.

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  9. Customers, really! Not passengers.
    What a great way for you to see what you wear from the people and 'things' down below.
    Haven't been on a train for years - did go on the steam one on our West Coast several years ago.

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    1. Margaret, the West Coast Railway is in my plans sometime. I must write a post on your old trams soon.

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  10. I would love to see the Gold Coast type trams or is it light rail system come to Brisbane.

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    1. Interesting point Diane. Authorities like to use light rail as it sounds modern whereas trams sounds old and clunky. When we were on the GC, both expressions seemed to be used equally. To me it was purely a tram, as it ran on roads as well as its own tracks.

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  11. I am surprised that you took a tram in England, because they only have the metro or buses. We have trams too, they have priority and are compared to other public transport means, good, if you consider that public transport in Belgium is a catastrophe !

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    1. Gattina, Blackpool has trams, which we rode. Other cities have modern light rail, as Marie said.

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  12. I do prefer trams to trains, not sure why.

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    1. Fen, a friend once described trams as friendly vehicles whereas trains were like cattle cars. I prefer trains. Trams are frustratingly slow at times.

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