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They were once the city's workhorses, rattling yellow and green trams responsible for the safe transport of thousands of patrons.
Now, more than 100 ageing vehicles gathering dust in a Newport rail yard will be given a new lease on life as part of a novel plan to celebrate the city's transport history.
Part of Victoria’s retired trams strategy, 134 historic trams previously resigned to retirement will be offered to rail enthusiasts for cafes, classrooms and other attractions in the hope of preserving the iconic trolleys for future generations.
Minister for Public Transport Jacinta Allan said schools, community groups, not-for-profit organisations and other public institutions would be able to access a tram for free under the new plan, to be released by the Andrews Labor government on Monday.
“Over the years trams have transported millions of Victorians, connected our communities and are an integral part of our rich heritage,” she said.
“If they’re not going to be used on the network, we want to keep these trams accessible to the community.
“These Victorian icons will now be available to come to life once again and preserved for future generations to enjoy.”
The rare opportunity is the first time such a large number of the heritage vehicles will go up for grabs, years after the robust rattlers graced the city streets.
The expression of interest process will ask people to explain how they'd restore, repurpose and maintain one of the trams, including the iconic W-class, following examination of the decommissioned trams currently in Melbourne's storage yards.
For Public Transport Users Association president Tony Morton, bringing the old beauties back into public use is an important historical step as the city moves towards a more modernised transport network.
“In the past we’ve called for them to be pressed back into service but we recognise that horse has bolted, given the W-class trams don’t meet modern accessibility standards. They did in their day perform as the workhorses of Melbourne’s public transport system and would hold a surprising number of people,” he said.
“But we’re moving on, we’re evolving into a 21st century light rail system, following big European cities.
“It’s important they do find good homes and see a second life.”
Of the 237 retired trams, 134 will be made available to the public as part of the expression of interest process to open on May 28 and close on July 6.
Interest in the trams will then be assessed by an independent panel, giving priority to trams that will remain accessible to the public.
All applications for the expression of interest must be made through the VicTrack website.
Yellow and green W-class trams have been progressively replaced by more modern trams since 1975 but remain symbolic of Melbourne.
This article first appeared on www.theage.com.au
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