Sydney Variotram retirement

 
  Matthew Chief Train Controller

Fred made his remark last September. As I write, it is now April. Anyone heard anything yet? Are the Varios still there or have they been whisked away to a scrapper in the dead of night?
3l diesel


As of the 2nd of March, when Nearmap last overflew Penrith, the 6 Varios are still all there in a neat line.




I assume the company either has someone living on site or dogs or both.

My guess is TfNSW didn't get the bids they were expecting and they are still desperately hoping a buyer appears.

The TfNSW person who rang me back last year when I put an enquiry in asking 'is one being preserved', seem very surprised when I said 'only possible interest would be overseas and then only for parts'. I get the impression they thought they could sell them to Melbourne or at a pinch Adelaide.

They might be able to run in Melbourne, but Adelaide downsized to 2.4m wide trams when they bought Frankfurt spec Flexities.

There is still a possibility that a small Japanese system will buy them up. The Japanese provincial tramways have a long and glorious history of acquiring each others 2nd hand trams and rebuilding them.

The tramways now appearing in Africa are all built with Chinese loans to buy Chinese equipment so they won't go that way, and the poorer eastern European countries have a ready source of 2nd hand trams from their neighbours to the west.

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  Newcastle Express Chief Commissioner

At 3l diesel, have you asked TfNSW?
And wouldn't you need some letters of support?
  Matthew Chief Train Controller

At 3l diesel, have you asked TfNSW?
And wouldn't you need some letters of support?
Newcastle Express

I sent another letter to John Sidoti, who replied to my previous letter a year ago about them. No response yet. That was about a month ago.

I still think TfNSW thought Melbourne or Adelaide would buy them and they are somewhat dismayed that they didn't bite and they are left with 6 trams no one (but the tram museum) wants. (Adelaide can no longer run 2.65m wide trams and Melbourne has the E class deliveries underway).

Given the crowding currently being experienced on the IWLR, they could do with sending them back. Maybe Alstom will offer a better price for their overhaul.

My guess is in a few more months we will see a tender issued for their scrapping and removal from the yard at Penrith.
  simstrain Chief Commissioner

At 3l diesel, have you asked TfNSW?
And wouldn't you need some letters of support?

I sent another letter to John Sidoti, who replied to my previous letter a year ago about them. No response yet. That was about a month ago.

I still think TfNSW thought Melbourne or Adelaide would buy them and they are somewhat dismayed that they didn't bite and they are left with 6 trams no one (but the tram museum) wants. (Adelaide can no longer run 2.65m wide trams and Melbourne has the E class deliveries underway).

Given the crowding currently being experienced on the IWLR, they could do with sending them back. Maybe Alstom will offer a better price for their overhaul.

My guess is in a few more months we will see a tender issued for their scrapping and removal from the yard at Penrith.
Matthew

Didn't the Tasmanian government want us to gift them the trams to use in Hobart. NSW government was never going to gift something to a state that gets way more GST share per capita then it deserves, but put them up for sale so the Tasmanian government could buy them. The NSW government knew that Victoria had there new trams and SA were a narrow body line.
  fixitguy Chief Train Controller

Location: In Carriage 4 on a Tangara
At 3l diesel, have you asked TfNSW?
And wouldn't you need some letters of support?

I sent another letter to John Sidoti, who replied to my previous letter a year ago about them. No response yet. That was about a month ago.

I still think TfNSW thought Melbourne or Adelaide would buy them and they are somewhat dismayed that they didn't bite and they are left with 6 trams no one (but the tram museum) wants. (Adelaide can no longer run 2.65m wide trams and Melbourne has the E class deliveries underway).

Given the crowding currently being experienced on the IWLR, they could do with sending them back. Maybe Alstom will offer a better price for their overhaul.

My guess is in a few more months we will see a tender issued for their scrapping and removal from the yard at Penrith.

Didn't the Tasmanian government want us to gift them the trams to use in Hobart. NSW government was never going to gift something to a state that gets way more GST share per capita then it deserves, but put them up for sale so the Tasmanian government could buy them. The NSW government knew that Victoria had there new trams and SA were a narrow body line.
simstrain
That was the monorail which they wanted to run on the ground or something. The mayor (who was the guy that actually wanted it iirc ) mentioned that he didn't want it running that high up off the ground.

Anyway I do hope the NSW govt has some common sense and preserves at least 1 tram in its original colours to remind the future of our light rail history.
  Fred Scuttle Junior Train Controller

Location: Point Clare, NSW
My guess is in a few more months we will see a tender issued for their scrapping and removal from the yard at Penrith.
Matthew
Right then - if these trams are to be sold for scrap, it will be necessary to remind the NSW Government of the historical significance of these cars. To refuse to set aside even one car for preservation would look like sheer bloody-mindedness.
  Bogong Chief Commissioner

Location: Essendon Aerodrome circa 1980
Honestly, getting a tram donated (or finding the cash to buy one) is the least of your worries.

What is the scrap value of an old tram? Probably not much.

I'm willing to pay for the one in best condition, or at least tip in the first couple of thousand if the scrap value is more than that, IF some reputable museum or tram fan group is prepared to move the thing and house it under cover until such time as funds are available to get it running.

Of course that is the real problem, getting the money to move it and finding secure storage space.
  Fred Scuttle Junior Train Controller

Location: Point Clare, NSW
Indeed - as has been previously noted, only a museum or preservation group with a good track-record in tramcar restoration and conservation would be realistically placed to have custody of a Variotram. However, the organisation which best fits the bill - SPER at Loftus - has major accommodation issues, with a fair-sized proportion of their collection in offsite storage. Another complication is that TfNSW seems to be unable - or unwilling - to accept that it's highly unlikely that a buyer for all six cars is going to miraculously appear.
  Matthew Chief Train Controller

I got a response to another letter to the minister over the Variotrams.

The gist of the reply is that they didn't sell them, 'a number of post tender submissions expressed interest in procuring the Variotrams or parts. However, none of these resulted in any firm offers' and are 'now considering options'.

My guess is the only offer came from the Sydney Tramway Museum, who offered only a token amount for 1 vehicle and some spare parts.


My advice now for anyone interested in preserving one of these is to contact the Sydney Tramway Museum and pledge support for the acquisition and housing of one of these vehicles.

Quite a number of the 'old guard' at Loftus are even openly hostile to the acquisition of such a 'modern' tram, despite their obvious historical value. This needs to be countered by visible support for the acquisition.

Google street view seems into indicate that the trams have been vandalised while stored at Penrith. I hope the yard's dogs got em.
  RTT_Rules Oliver Bullied, CME

Location: Dubai UAE
One set at Loftus is enough and yes they are as much as part of Sydney's history as others. Pity one set could not have been donated from the start so at least they are not vandalised in between.
  Fred Scuttle Junior Train Controller

Location: Point Clare, NSW
Well, it's some 19 months since the Variotrams were withdrawn, and they're still (as far as I am aware) sitting in a yard at Penrith. Any developments, anyone?
  GeoffreyHansen Minister for Railways

Location: In a FAM sleeper
I've heard a rumour that Loftus may be acquiring one.

IMHO it would be good to see a Variotram with the older trams.
  Fred Scuttle Junior Train Controller

Location: Point Clare, NSW
That's a rumour that's been running for some time. I suppose we'll just have to wait a bit longer.
  Matthew Chief Train Controller

That's a rumour that's been running for some time. I suppose we'll just have to wait a bit longer.
Fred Scuttle
Not a rumour - the fact that the process to acquire 2107 has begun has been published in SPER news. 2107 was suggested as this tram has apparently had the best in service record and was considered the one in the best condition - although not the one with the least km on the clock.

SPER was the only bidder it would appear, which is why SPER's tender was accepted.

The sale contract is currently being negotiated. Note this is not a donation as such - a full sale contract is being written up. However, the price offered by SPER ($1000) is pretty clearly not a commercial offer. But since TfNSW didn't get any other offers, they are proceeding with a sale contract at the offered price.

The price of the tram is only the beginning. A 30m long LRV is not cheap to move. Also storage space is an issue and options are being investigated to extend one or more of the existing structures at Loftus. It's possible some other non-operable rolling stock may be moved out.
I've seen the quote for moving 2107 but are not at liberty to divulge it. But it is a significant amount of money. 5 figures sort of money.

Anyone interested in the preservation of this significant vehicle should be sending their 'targeted' donations into SPER as a matter of urgency. Donations to SPER, if 'targeted', are recorded in a virtual ledger against the project the benefactor specified. Donations are tax deductable.

The process really is at the point where significant bequests of money towards the acquisition are required.
  simstrain Chief Commissioner

Has sper considered having a fund raiser?

Also I wondering how a variotram would operate on the museums 600v overhead?
  s3_gunzel Not a gunzel developer

Location: Western Sydney, AU
Also I wondering how a variotram would operate on the museums 600v overhead?
simstrain

I'd say the same as the C2 Trams in Melbourne; which are - shall we say - rated for 750v.
  Matthew Chief Train Controller

Has sper considered having a fund raiser?
simstrain

The treasurer is a very conservative 'old school' kind of guy. Meticulous and accurate, but old fashioned. Any 'fundraiser' is likely to be a plea in the next SPER news.

We will see. WIP.



Also I wondering how a variotram would operate on the museums 600v overhead?
simstrain

The computer will probably keep generating low volt alarms till the threshold is reprogrammed. Variotrams were designed to run on 'traditional' as well as new tramways, so it shouldn't be a major issue.
Nothing on a modern tram runs directly off the overhead voltage anyway.

A Variotram has two auxiliary converters that produce 24/28v for the control circuits, battery charging, etc, etc and 3 phase 400v for the air conditioning. There are two traction converters. Nothing else is directly connected to the 600/750v DC line.

For a given output performance, the tram would draw more input current from the overhead - all other parameters being equal. On the lower voltage, the acceleration and possibly the top speed will be reduced. Operation at Loftus would not push either of those limits.
  GeoffreyHansen Minister for Railways

Location: In a FAM sleeper
I'm interested in making a small donation towards moving the variotram to loftus. It's a significant part of our tramway history.

Also has SETS or the RTM considered preserving a variotram?
  Fred Scuttle Junior Train Controller

Location: Point Clare, NSW
Not a rumour - the fact that the process to acquire 2107 has begun has been published in SPER news.
"Matthew"


That's good to hear, Matthew - I'd been away from "the 'page" for a month or so, and was unaware of the behind-the-scenes negotiations.

As well as 2107, is SPER obtaining any parts from the other Varios as spares?
  Matthew Chief Train Controller

Not a rumour - the fact that the process to acquire 2107 has begun has been published in SPER news.


That's good to hear, Matthew - I'd been away from "the 'page" for a month or so, and was unaware of the behind-the-scenes negotiations.

As well as 2107, is SPER obtaining any parts from the other Varios as spares?
Fred Scuttle

TfNSW also accepted SPERs tender for the spare parts collection.

What happens to the other 5 trams is a separate issue. I expect a tender will be issued for their scrapping some time in the next 6 months.

As for other organisations - a LRV is not in SETS or the RTM's remit. And just what would they do with them ?. Can't run them on railways. They are large and expensive to move.  Also the Power House museum appears to have gotten out of the field of 'large' exhibits so I doubt they would take one either. (Besides, they also have a storage problem out at Castle Hill).
It looks like it's SPER or they disappear forever.
  s3_gunzel Not a gunzel developer

Location: Western Sydney, AU
As for other organisations - a LRV is not in SETS or the RTM's remit.
Matthew


Neither's a Monorail. But SETS still bought one.
  GeoffreyHansen Minister for Railways

Location: In a FAM sleeper
Apart from voltage are there any other barriers to operating a variotram on a railway? I thought they had railway wheels.

On a side note I'd love to travel to the Royal National Park on a variotram.
  Matthew Chief Train Controller

Apart from voltage are there any other barriers to operating a variotram on a railway? I thought they had railway wheels.
GeoffreyHansen
Hybrid profile wheels. Tramways style small flanges (but larger than the CESLR will be using), but a railway-style 'back-to-back'. The wheels have a noticeable 'step' on the back face that allows the wheel back to engage with a heavy rail style raised check rail.
Not sure of the difference in the amount of wheel coneing.
On a railway with canted rail, the small flanges may increase the derailment risk if speeds got too high.



On a side note I'd love to travel to the Royal National Park on a variotram.
GeoffreyHansen

It will be a while before that happens as the overhead on the RNP line needs extensive work. Most of the curves lack pull offs and the contact wire in places crosses over the inside rail of the curve. Pole equipped trams can still track that far off centre, but few pantograph heads are wider than the vehicle they are on top of.

The RNP line is pretty well all curve and only one curve was ever 'finished' with additional pull offs. As all pole equipped trams could track off centre it's never been a priority to complete the pull offs.

The voltage at the end of the RPN line may be an issue. It's noticeable on the PCC car (particularly if you have the saloon lights on) just how much the voltage sags when you apply power. (It's a hungry car....)
Running a 2nd catenary wire to boost the current carrying capacity would be somewhat expensive.
  GeoffreyHansen Minister for Railways

Location: In a FAM sleeper
Out of interest could the Variotram run on part of the line to Sutherland or would a trolley pole need to be fitted? Laughing
  Matthew Chief Train Controller

Out of interest could the Variotram run on part of the line to Sutherland or would a trolley pole need to be fitted? Laughing
GeoffreyHansen

I have already been to Waratah loop on a pantograph equipped tram. (The Munich car). I believe when the Adelaide H cars arrived they did a test run with their pantographs before one was refitted with poles. The other Adelaide car was sent to off-site storage and still has it's pantograph.

3 of the 4 'pans' on the 'scissors crossover' are not pantograph compatible but they are worn out and are not strictly 'skid' compatible either. They will be replaced with ex Melbourne hybrid fittings in due course. The parts are already on hand. One of the 4 pans has already been replaced as it had worn to the point it wasn't usable or repairable anymore.

The rest of the line from the south gate to Waratah Loop can cope with pantograph collectors.

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