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Template:MelbourneTram The W class is a class of electric trams that operates in Melbourne, Victoria, Australia. A number of older variants have been withdrawn from service, with those still in use seen on the City Circle tourist route and the North Richmond to Prahran / St Kilda Beach route (Route:78/79).
W class trams were introduced to Melbourne in 1923 as a new standard design. They had a dual bogie layout and were characterised by a substantially timber frame supplanted by a steel under frame, a simple rugged design, and fine craftsmanship (particularly the older models). The W Class was the mainstay of Melbourne's tramways system for 60 years. A total of 748 trams of all variants were built. The W class is an icon to the city and recognised by the National Trust of Australia.
The original and most numerous W2 variant was supplemented in the late 1930s by 120 W5 (or "Clyde") class trams with wider cabins, and more powerful motors - which were notorious for being difficult to drive smoothly. The W6 followed on: it was to become the most popular W class tram with crews and passengers alike: fast, smooth and comfortable, compared with earlier W variants. Construction came to a halt for some years and the final 40 W Class trams did not emerge from the Preston Workshops until 1956, when the need to provide something more capable of dealing with Olympic Games crowds than Bourke Street's buses prompted the last expansion of the network.
The W7 Class with its pneumatic sliding doors (later retrofitted to most W5 and W6 trams too) and softer suspension proved popular with passengers. It was not until the 1990s that the W Class was finally considered 'surplus' to rollingstock requirements.
Changed safety requirements resulted in the fitting of new brake systems to members of the class still in service. After an adjustment to the 'brand new' faulty brakes installed on many of the trams in 1998 was corrected, the W class trams have since been revived again on some lines due to their iconic popularity. They run regularly on the North Richmond to Prahran / St Kilda Beach route (Route:78/79).
The zero-fare City Circle route also operates using the W class to the delight of many tourists. The oldest W class trams remaining in service run this route, dating from 1936, others have been converted into mobile restaurants which cruise the suburbs in the evening.
Approximately 200 later model W class trams remain stored at various locations around Melbourne as part of a heritage fleet. The future use of these trams is unknown. A number of W-class trams have been sent overseas, including five that went to Seattle between 1978 and 1993, where they operated as Seattle's own heritage streetcar line, George Benson Waterfront Streetcar Line, between 1982 and 2005. Since 1990, public outrage over the sale of these popular trams to overseas interest has forced an embargo to be placed on the sale of these trams to any overseas interest. A number of these were used in the filming of the HBO mini-series The Pacific.
The 406-strong class was the backbone of the Melbourne and Metropolitan Tramways Board (MMTB)'s vast fleet during their heyday from the 1940s to 1960s. Most class members had been converted from the earlier W & W1 classes.The trams featured two enclosed saloon areas at either end of the tram and an open "drop-centre" section in the middle. A trademark feature of these vehicles until the 1970s was their uncomfortable wooden bench-style seats,a feature they shared with most other Melbourne trams of that period.
Mechanically,they had four under-floor motors powering two sets of the MMTB's "Number one" bogies. The driver's controls were made by Westinghouse, among others.
Towards the end of their useful lives, many class members were converted to service (non-Passenger) stock such as carborundum rail scrubbers, Permanent-way vehicles, rail grinders & breakdown units. A large number of units were also sold to museums and public transport operators in Australia and around the world with a large number still running today.
SW5 class trams have sliding doors, improved drop centre seating and round cornered windscreens to differentiate themselves from unconverted W5 class trams. Trams 840 - 849 were built as SW5 class trams initially, while other trams were converted from W5 class trams in the 1980s, with two conversions in 1956.
Fleet numbers SW5 class trams have unusual fleet numbers, with most W5 class trams retaining their original fleet numbers as a different class.
- 681 - 682, 721 - 734, 736 - 750, 752 - 755, 757 - 760, 764 - 765, 767 - 770, 773, 775 - 777, 780 - 781, 784 - 791, 793, 796 - 797, 800, 802, 805 - 812, 814 - 816, 818 - 819, 824, 828 - 830, 834, 836 - 838, 840 - 849
The W6 class was introduced between 1951 and 1955 and are still in service today. At their introduction, W6 class trams were popular with passengers and crew alike for being fast, smooth and comfortable. Today a total of 6 are in service in Melbourne with Yarra Trams.
W6 class trams initially begun as a sub group of the SW6-class trams, but later became their own class. They are similar to the W7-class trams. Two of the trams are in the hands of preservation groups, one of which is used as a café tram in Bendigo.
3 SW6-class trams also operate as restaurant trams, operating in the evenings, first class meals and service with all food cooked and prepared on the trams.
The Cab controls are the same as of other W class trams.
- List of SW5 class trams at vicsig
- List of W6 class trams at vicsig
- Railpage Tram Photo Gallery
- http://www.wclasstrams.com W class tram information site.