Glenhuntly and Truganini road track and overhead upgrade
Construction of new platform stops on St Kilda Rd - 11 June to early August 2015
Tram routes changed, abolished in shake-up to ease congestion
Moonee Ponds tram upgrade project
New accessible tram stop for Route 1 & 8 passengers
Toorak Terminus tram upgrade project
Record tram performance in 2014
May 2015 performance results
Your new Jolimont/MCG tram stop
After World War II, the Anglosphere committed an act of heinous self-harm: they tore out their cities’ most prized rails.
Within a generation after its wartime victory in 1945, cities and mid-sized towns on both hemispheres rid themselves of struggling tram networks, ripping out its rails to make space for automobiles. This phenomenon was found globally among the former Allied victors, from Canada, United Kingdom, and Australia.
In my home region of the San Francisco Bay Area, we lost not one but two streetcar (more commonly called trams outside North America) networks on both sides of the Bay. The Key System in the East Bay received an unceremonious death, led by experts like Arthur C. Jenkins, who I detailed in a previous S(ubstack)-Bahn post on a new history on why Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) never made it on the Golden Gate Bridge. As a consultant in the late 1940s and 1950s, Jenkins led a massacre of declining tram networks across western United States in cities like San Diego, Fresno, Phoenix, Long Beach, Los Angeles, San Francisco and Oakland.
Jenkins was a military man, serving under the Navy during World War II. One may wonder if the experience hardened Jenkins’ perspectives against rail and for cars. But another military man on the opposite side of the globe charted a wholly different relationship to mass transport. Like Jenkins, he worked in streetcar networks before the war. His military upbringing played an immense impact in his postwar career to preserve one of the great streetcar networks of the world.
As brethren cities like Sydney, Perth and Brisbane abandoned their trams, this military man fought the press, public opinion, local politicians and a global industry consensus to preserve Melbourne’s trams. He fought for them – with the spartan utilitarianism befitting a military engineer – because he believed trams simply were the most efficient mode of mass transport available for Melbourne. His imposing presence and total control of his political environs has been credited as to why no politician dared touch the trams.
Cities like Sydney and Adelaide have since rued their decisions and revived tram lines fractional to their former glory. But it is Melbourne who now boasts the largest tram network in the world, with 24 lines in service and 250 kilometers of track laid for service. The trams serve now as a civic symbol for the city and a core engine for the city’s modern successes. It is also a historic symbol of what went right for once in the postwar era in public transit.
In public transit, heroes are far and few between; the modus operandi has always been that an invisible transit network is the best network. But like in any occupation, we need our heroes and myths. For transit mythology may I propose the third chairman of the Melbourne and Metropolitan Tramways Board (M&MTB): Sir Robert Joseph Henry Risson.
This article first appeared on seungylee14.substack.com
About this website
Railpage version 3.10.0.0037
All logos and trademarks in this site are property of their respective owner. The comments are property of their posters, all the rest is © 2003-2022 Interactive Omnimedia Pty Ltd.
You can syndicate our news using one of the RSS feeds.