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MELBOURNE'S historic W-class trams could be off the rails after claims the ageing rattlers are in disgraceful condition.
Concerns about rotting wood & peeling paint have prompted the RTBU to demand the State Govn't save the antiques or see them taken out of service.
RTBU Tram Division acting secretary Doug Brady said the trams could become a safety hazard.
The Victorian Department of Transport (DoT) needed to commit to a rescue plan to keep the trams on the road, he said.
A DoT spokesman said a revised approach to maintenance of the W-class fleet was being investigated.
"However, no formal commitment has yet been made in this regard," he said.
Yarra Trams, operates the histroic iconic Melb. W-Class Fleet of trams, which were retired in 2000 after a string of braking problems, with 53 returned to service in 2004.
Yesterday, Yarra Trams spokesman Colin Tyrus said all the W-class trams were up to maintenance standards.
"There's nothing out on our tram network that isn't fit for service," he said.
The fleet, which rattle along routes 78 & 79 on Church & Chapel streets, as well as the route 30 extension to Docklands, were recognised on the National Trust heritage list in 1990.
Growing numbers of Melburnians are getting on board, with routes 78 & 79, seeing the biggest patronage increases of all tram routes last year, up 10 per cent.
Melbourne tram historian Norm Cross said the condition of the W-class trams was disgraceful.
"Every major city has got a landmark, the iconic W-class trams have always been one of the symbols of Melbourne, that we are most famous for" Mr Cross said.
"Yet, anyone can see, the paintwork is very much faded on a lot of the trams, sadly they do have that unloved look about them."
When the W-class' returned to service, Yarra Trams agreed to maintain the fleet.
Mr Tyrus said yesterday that while Yarra Trams was meeting its maintenance agreements, keeping the 60-year-old vehicles looking young was a challenge.
"We'd welcome any injection of funding to help with that ongoing maintenance problem," he said.
"Because the trams are wooden, some of them over 60 years old, they do require more maintenance as well as up keep than the rest of the more modern trams in Melbourne's tram fleet."
About 180 more W-class trams are in retirement in Melbourne workshops. (Most stored in the DoT's Newport Railway Workshops East Block Complex)
Reference: Herald Sun Newspaper
Date: Tues. 2 Sept. 2008
Article Link: http://www.news.com.au/heraldsun/story/0,21985,24279972-2862,00.html
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