E2 Class tram 6056, Collins Street, Melbourne, 18 December 2017.
B2 Class tram 2047, La Trobe Street, Melbourne, 20 December 2017.
Melbourne Tramway Network
5 August 2023
Melbourne has 250 km of double track tramways, making it the most extensive tramway network in the world. It retained its tramways when most Australian tramway networks were closed in the 1950s and 1960s. The tram came to be a symbol of Melbourne and remains a vital means of public transport in the city and suburbs.
Yarra Trams operates the Melbourne tram network. It is owned by private company Keolis Downer. Over 200,000,000 passenger journeys are made annually, with over 5000 services operating each day. The average speed of trams is 16 km/h across the network and 11 km/h in the Melbourne Central Business District. Yarra Trams has a fleet consisting of over 500 trams, with over 400 in service during peak periods.
A myki card is required for travel on Yarra Trams services, except for the Free Tram Zone. Most tram journeys are contained within Zone 1, although some routes extend to the overlap area between Zone 1 and Zone 2. The area within the Melbourne CBD is a Free Tram Zone in which no fares apply and passengers are not required to touch on and off with a myki card. All stops within this zone are clearly marked, and tram drivers make announcements when approaching the zone boundaries. The Yarra Trams website contains timetables, maps, route guides, service changes, and details about tickets and fares. It also linked to the Public Transport Victoria Journey Planner. Information about tram arrivals is provided by tramTRACKER, which can be accessed online, by app, or by calling 1300 698 726 from a mobile phone or landline and entering a tram stop id.
The network has 25 routes, including the City Circle loop route, and there are over 1700 tram stops. It is electrified throughout, using 600 volts DC. Tram services operate for 20 hours each day. There are eight operational tram depots: Brunswick, Camberwell, Essendon, Glenhuntly, Kew, Malvern, Preston and Southbank. An additional two depots at East Preston and North Fitzroy are dedicated to tram storage. Tramway workshops are located at Preston and are run by UGL (United Group Limited).
Most of Melbourne’s tram routes travel through the central business district, but commence and terminate outside it. Two routes do not travel though the central business district: Route 82 Moonee Ponds to Footscray and Route 78 North Richmond to Balaclava. Route 35, the City Circle, is a free tourist tram that enables passengers to visit major attractions in the city and features an audio commentary. It is serviced by heritage W-type trams. Route 96 includes a section from Southbank Junction to St Kilda that was originally a railway line, and which in 1987 was converted from broad gauge to standard gauge to enable Melbourne trams to operate on it as a light rail line. Similarly, the section from Southbank Junction to Port Melbourne on Route 109 was formerly a railway line that was also converted to light rail in 1987. The Port Melbourne line was the first steam-powered railway in Australia, and opened on 12 September 1854.
The current tram routes with their route numbers and designations are shown below.
1 East Coburg to South Melbourne Beach
3 Melbourne University to East Malvern (weekdays)
3a Melbourne University to East Malvern (weekends)
5 Melbourne University to Malvern
6 Moreland to Glen Iris
11 West Preston to Victoria Harbour Docklands
12 Victoria Gardens to St Kilda
16 Melbourne University to Kew
19 North Coburg to Flinders Street Station
30 St Vincent's Plaza to Central Pier, Docklands
35 City Circle
48 North Balwyn to Victoria Harbour Docklands
57 West Maribyrnong to Flinders Street Station
58 West Coburg to Toorak
59 Airport West to Flinders Street Station
64 Melbourne University to East Brighton
67 Melbourne University to Carnegie
70 Wattle Park to Waterfront City Docklands
72 Melbourne University to Camberwell
75 Vermont South to Central Pier, Docklands
78 North Richmond to Balaclava
82 Footscray to Moonee Ponds
86 Bundoora RMIT to Waterfront City Docklands
96 East Brunswick to St Kilda Beach
109 Box Hill to Port Melbourne
A range of different tram classes are in service in Melbourne, as shown below. The oldest trams in service are the W8 Class. The trams have been converted from other W type trams since 2013 through a programme of refurbishment to modernise them, including improved safety through a strengthened underframe and driver’s cab, improved electrical controls, and installation of a public address system. Melbourne’s newest trams are the E and E2 Class trams. Commencing service in 2013, they feature a low-floor throughout, swivelling trucks, an improved safety design, and track condition reporting equipment. The E2 Class trams are very similar to the E Class, but have a redesigned cab, reduced glare to improve visibility for the driver, and additional handholds for passengers. With a length of 33 metres, the E and E2 Class are also Melbourne’s longest trams. A contract was been awarded for the construction of new F Class trams.
Five tramway museums located in and near Melbourne have extensive collections of heritage Melbourne trams. Many former Melbourne trams are also located at other tramway museums, both in Australia and overseas.
Melbourne Tram Museum <www.hawthorntramdepot.org.au> has a collection of 21 historic Melbourne tramcars and related objects, including a cable tram grip car and trailer. It is housed within the former Hawthorn depot and is open to visitors on the second and fourth Saturday of each month, and on selected Wednesdays. Hawthorn is located in an inner eastern suburb of Melbourne.
The Tramway Museum Society of Victoria <www.tramway.org.au> operates the Tramway Heritage Centre at Bylands. It has a collection of over 40 tramcars and buses from Melbourne, Geelong, Ballarat and Adelaide. Exhibits include horse, cable and electric trams. The museum is open on the first, third and fifth Sundays of each month, and other days as advertised. Bylands is located approximately 70 km north of Melbourne.
Ballarat Tramway Museum <www.btm.org.au> has a collection of tramcars, as well as displays of photographs, videos and artefacts. Exhibits include former Ballarat and Melbourne electric trams and a double-deck horse tram built in 1887. The depot is at the south end of the Ballarat Botanical Gardens. Historic trams are operated within the Botanic Gardens area. Trams operate on Saturdays, Sundays, Tuesdays, public holidays and Thursdays during school holidays. Ballarat is located approximately 120 km west of Melbourne.
Bendigo Tramways <www.bendigotramways.com> has the oldest operating tram depot in Australia and has 45 trams, 14 of which are in working condition. Most of the trams were formerly in regular service on the Bendigo or Melbourne tram networks. Bendigo Tramways operates what is referred to as the ‘Vintage Talking Tram Tour’ because of the recorded commentary it provides along the route. The depot is also open as a museum. Trams operate every day except Christmas Day and Boxing Day. Bendigo is located approximately 150 km north-west of Melbourne.
The Melbourne Tramcar Preservation Association <www.mtpa.com.au> has a collection of former Melbourne trams at its Haddon site. Visits can be arranged by appointment through the contact details on the website. Haddon is located approximately 130 km west of Melbourne.
Ballarat Tramway Museum <www.btm.org.au>.
Bendigo Tramways <www.bendigotramways.com>.
Melbourne Tram Museum <www.hawthorntramdepot.org.au>.
Melbourne Tramcar Preservation Association <www.mtpa.com.au>.
Tramway Museum Society of Victoria <www.tramway.org.au>.
Wilson, R & D Budd, Destination Waterfront City: a guide to Melbourne’s trams, Transit Australia Publishing, Sydney, 2015.
Wilson, R & D Budd, The Melbourne tram book, University of New South Wales Press, Sydney, 2003.
Yarra Trams <www.yarratrams.com.au>.
Z3 Class tram number 141 outside Flinders Street station, Melbourne, 14 January 2017.
W8 Class tram 1010 on the City Circle route, La Trobe Street, Melbourne, 20 December 2017.