Where/how are the Variotrams?

 
  Matthew Junior Train Controller

W2s haven't been used in service since the 80s or early 90s I believe, long before the City Circle was born. The typical "City Circle" tram is the last shape of W class tram, the W6/SW6 or W7 (formerly SW5, but they have all since been retired). The W8 class is merely a refurbishment rather than a new tram type.
Heihachi_73


Bendigo has posted a timelapse of one of the W8 rebuilds. It's pretty much a new tram in the shape of the old, not much of the original tram gets retained.

With a modern tram (and the W8) what ever the pantograph picks up is feed into a traction converter and an auxiliary converter. As long as that converter is 600/750 compatible (and it should be, designing for both isn't difficult in this day and age), it really doesn't matter what the line voltage is.

Of more interest is what happens when a tram designed for 750v goes into regenerative braking and what effect it's attempt to push the line voltage into the 900v region would have on 600v 'heritage' rolling stock.

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  Matthew Junior Train Controller

I don't know how feasible this is but I would love to see a Variotram do a run on the National Park line.
GeoffreyHansen

One day. There is a long outstanding 'job' to fit 'pull offs' to the National Park line to better centre the trolley wire over the tracks on the curves. Only one curve was ever completed. Once this is done, there is not really any further issues to stop a pantograph equipped tram using the line.

Some sums might need to be done - while the Variotram has a peak power consumption that is lower than the PCC car, unlike the PCC, the Vario traction system will effectively shut down if the line voltage drops below 500v, where as the PCC sort of sluggishly moves off.
The actual traction converters on the Vario were rated by ABB to work as low as 450v.

It is a long wire to send power down on the RNP line and on the PCC the lights noticeably dim and the blower fans noticeably slow down when you depart from the RNP station.
  kitchgp Chief Train Controller

The E-class has been tested all over Melbourne's 600V network. These Vicsig photos of E 6001 show the testing and refer to some of the destinations in the captions:
http://vicsig.net/index.php?page=trams&number=6001&class=E&v=1
One of the photos in the 2nd last row shows in-service E 6001 operating on what is now Route 12 and passing under Route 96, having been diverted from Route 96.

The photo showing E 6001 turning from Dandenong Road into Hawthorn Road (9th row down) is interesting. If E 6001 was following Route 16 it would have used the NW corner of the Balaclava Junction grand union (however it may have been going to Glenhuntly depot).
  Heihachi_73 Chief Commissioner

Location: Terminating at Ringwood
Just about every photo of 6001 not on the 96 (or via the 12 when the light rail isn't available) is of a test run. There are also photos of C and D classes at various locations where they never run in service. Sometimes I don't know whether it's for testing purposes or just to troll the public!

Of course, the opposite also happens, I saw a Z3 running out of service near Hawthorn on route 75 a few months ago. B2s visit Kew Depot quite regularly as well, despite routes 48 and 109 never seeing them. But enough with the Melbourne talk, I want to see if the Variotrams are ever going to be used again! On a side note though, as with the Variotrams, I haven't seen B1 2001 or 2002 in ages, that photo of 2002 at Preston covered in graffiti, sitting on yellow test trucks and with a clapped out Z1 in front of it worries me.
  Matthew Junior Train Controller

I want to see if the Variotrams are ever going to be used again!
Heihachi_73
I can tell you with some certainty that Varios other than 2107 will never run again. 2107 is 'set aside' for preservation. Details of that preservation are a 'work in progress'.
  TrainLover222 Junior Train Controller

Location: ...And then all stations to Central
I don't know how feasible this is but I would love to see a Variotram do a run on the National Park line.
GeoffreyHansen
Just googled that line. I think it would do nicely there!
  Fred Scuttle Junior Train Controller

Location: Point Clare, NSW
Any further news on the preservation on 2107? I realise that it's early days, but have there been any developments?
  simstrain Chief Commissioner

@simstrain the point is that 5 trams were brought from overseas. Anyway the use of those variotrams is arguably of more use then refurbishing 70+ year old trams to trundle around a zero fare route at 30 kph!!!

Michael
mejhammers1

So put a tram in with high mileage, already breaking down with no spares available other then what is available on other variotrams and absolutely no relevance to Melbourne. A tram that was designed for a 750v system and would fail almost immediately on Melbourne's legacy tram network.

Yes a real good point.
  Matthew Junior Train Controller


So put a tram in with high mileage, already breaking down with no spares available other then what is available on other variotrams and absolutely no relevance to Melbourne. A tram that was designed for a 750v system and would fail almost immediately on Melbourne's legacy tram network.

Yes a real good point.
simstrain

No spares in Australia. The same could be said for the 5 Citadis bought from Mulhouse.

Chemnitz has around 30 Variotrams almost identical to Sydney's. Manheim has nearly 100 trams that while mechanically quite different run the same traction converter package. Parts would be available from Germany for the Varios still. Parts for the Citadis would be coming from France anyway.
Mechanically a Variotram is very simple. The complexity is in the computers/software they run and that's common across the entire family. Pyrmont was getting things like motor overhauls for the Variotrams done locally, they were not sending them back to Germany for example. The same motor works did motors for Melbourne trams and trains.

Really the Vario's were put up for sale after Melbourne started getting E class delivered, why would Melbourne acquire someone else orphans when they had new state-of-the-art trams already arriving?
Had they been for sale back when Melbourne was considering the Mulhouse Citadis, they may very well have been relocated to Melbourne.

Adelaide made the decision when getting the Flexity of the Frankfurt am Main type to go to a 2.4m wide vehicle, the Sydney Varios are too wide.


As for preservation of a Vario, 2107 is officially set-aside, but the actual details are STILL a work in progress.

BTW the 600/750 problem isn't for a Vario - the traction package is designed to operate down to 450v. The Sydney ones were programmed to automatically derate between 500 and 600v to limit current draw. After 600v full power was available. The traction motors are designed to be able to run at full rated power on 450v and normally run at that voltage in 'power' mode (when in braking mode, the voltage can get much higher).

The traction package can even cope with a -750v system and has the option (not fitted to Sydney trams) to switch from +600 to -750v on the fly without needing to stop. (This feature was required in Mannheim/Heidelberg in Germany)

The 'vario' bit in the type name was intended to convey that the platform could work in a variety of circumstances and was flexible enough to 'vary' it's operating parameters on the fly.
  Heihachi_73 Chief Commissioner

Location: Terminating at Ringwood
We have been running 750V trams on Melbourne's 600V network since 2001; every single low floor tram is designed for 750V operation and has not been modified at all for the lower voltage, including a number of "outside" trams which have toured the network, notably Eurotram 018, Lisbon CombinoPlus C008 and at least one of Adelaide's Flexity trams (Adelaide is also a 600V network), the latter of which actually appeared in the background during a live news report in the city! Some routes run low floor trams almost exclusively, such as the 96 and 109, with the possibility of routes 19 and 86 being next on the list once the B2s disappear from those routes once more E class trams are delivered.
  Matthew Junior Train Controller

We have been running 750V trams on Melbourne's 600V network since 2001; every single low floor tram is designed for 750V operation and has not been modified at all for the lower voltage,.
Heihachi_73
Depends on your definition of 'modified'. They almost certainly have/had different software settings in their drive control units, in particular, the upper voltage for regenerative braking.
Pumping 950v or more back into the overhead while regen braking downhill may not bode well for the older 600v tram following. Smile

At least one of Sydney's vintage trams (134s, Former D class scrubber) has run on the 750v Sydney Light Rail. It was modified for this task (besides the obvious of swapping the pole for a pantograph), however, even with the modifications, the boost to 960v+ when a Vario braked was a concern.

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