The Victorian Coalition Government is delivering on its promise to preserve Victoria's W-Class tram fleet with the 2011-12 Victorian Budget committing $8 million over four years for the restoration program.
Minister for Public Transport Terry Mulder said W-Class trams were a Melbourne icon and this funding would help to maintain them as part of the city's culture.
"These trams were designed in Melbourne and first introduced in the 1920s. The few trams we have left should be maintained so Melburnians can continue to enjoy their cultural and heritage significance," Mr Mulder said.
"This Budget funding will provide for maintenance and restoration of Melbourne's W-Class tram fleet and trial a limited return of trams that are currently out of service to the fleet."
Mr Mulder said that while approximately 40 W-Class trams were currently in service in Melbourne, a number of additional trams remained in storage, slowly rotting away.
"We are acting to preserve those W-Class trams which are no longer in service," Mr Mulder said.
"This means we need to restore W-Class trams to as close to their original condition as possible, while still meeting current safety requirements."
Mr Mulder said the Government would gradually restore the W-Class tram fleet and begin to operate them in activity centres and on tourist routes.
"Works will include updating the braking systems and painting and restoring the heritage livery to its original splendour," Mr Mulder said.
"The restoration will improve passenger comfort and driver safety to ensure everyone can continue to enjoy these trams which are a rich part of Melbourne's history."
The Victorian Coalition Government will work with Yarra Trams and local councils to restore W-Class tram operations in some key activity centres.
Options under consideration include:
- Central Business District
- St Kilda, South Melbourne
- Chapel Street, South Yarra, Prahran and Armadale
- Fitzroy, Brunswick and Coburg
Routes will be determined in consultation with Yarra Trams, the National Trust and Melbourne local councils. It is anticipated that W-Class tram services will only operate outside peak times.