New Trams for Route 96 on Track

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By Ed Kennedy

Victoria has taken delivery of the first of the new generation ‘E-Class’ trams for Route 96 East Brunswick-St Kilda Beach at Yarra Trams’ Preston Workshop.

Initial testing of the new e-class along Route 96 began the middle of July with the new tram taking to the tracks for the first time with their use in regular services to commence later in the year.

The new trams, at 33 metres long and 2.65 metres wide, shall be the biggest trams ever seen on the network and offer a number of upgrades to commuters.

The E-class can carry up to 210 people when full a significant size difference when compared to the ‘Bumblebee’ tram currently used on the network that can only hold 150 max. The tram also has a number of features that have been looked at to maximize security – CCTV and emergency intercoms – as well as slip-resistant floors and dedicated space and next stop buttons for users with a disability.

The arrival of this new generation of tram shall see a flow-on effect as other routes using an older generation of tram inherit the Bumblebee version.

Tony Morton, President of the Public Transport Users Association welcomed the news of the new trams arriving but indicated there remains work to be done in optimising Melbourne’s transport network.

‘With the upgrade to Route 96 we are strongly focussed on what is to be done with traffic light priority’ said Mr Morton.

‘Yarra Trams and Vicroads did a trial last year and confirmed what we know from experience elsewhere – that signal priority significantly improves travel times and makes it possible to provide a higher frequency service with the same size fleet.’

‘This is also important for reliability, because it is when trams become overcrowded due to inadequate service frequency, and when red lights insert random two-minute delays into runs, that reliability really suffers.  Traffic light priority can be designed to have minimal impact on cross traffic given it only takes 5 seconds to move a tram with 200 people across an intersection.’

Route 96 has been shown to form a key part of Victoria’s economy with Australian Bureau of Statics data from 2006 revealing 170,000 jobs in Melbourne are located ‘within walking distance’ of the Route 96 Tram.

Route 96 is one of the busiest of Melbourne’s tram routes having carried 16 million passengers between the year 2010-2011 according to the Victorian government.

Presently 50 trams have been ordered by the government for use on the Melbourne tram network with their intended introduction to occur over the next few years.

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