Some of my photos from April 2004 – You won’t BELIEVE how similar everything was #clickbait

Continuing my series of posting ten-year-old photos, I was struck by the fact that many of the photos from April 2004 show some things have changed very little.

Traffic in Collins Street, creeping into the tram lanes. Just recently more visible dividers have been added… I suspect they help, but don’t completely prevent cars on the tracks.
Tram in traffic, Collins Street approaching Spring Street (March 2004)

Spirit of Tasmania, seen from South Melbourne Beach. Looking closely, it might be Spirit of Tasmania II. According to Wikipedia, it seems both I and II were built in 1998, and originally served connecting Greece with Italy, though it seems II was involved in a fatal accident in 1999, some years before being brought to Australia.
Spirit of Tasmania, from South Melbourne Beach (March 2004)

Who remembers the M>Tram livery? A little garish perhaps, but in some ways not so different to the new PTV livery. And I did like the “Moving Melbourne” slogan.
Tram at terminus of Route 1 South Melbourne, in M>Tram colours (March 2004)

Flinders Street Station, as seen from Southbank. Thanks to height limits around Swanston Street, I’m not even sure the skyline from this angle has changed very much.
Flinders Street Station, from Southbank (March 2004)

Interior of a Hitachi train — odds on it’s one of those scrapped in the mid-2000s, as only about 7 are still around (and not in service at present). Obviously this wasn’t a busy service — the timestamp says it was 9:14am on Wednesday 14th April 2004.
Hitachi train interior (March 2004)

Being interviewed for ABC TV News on 18th April — this was the day Connex took over the entire metropolitan rail network.
Daniel being interviewed for ABC TV News, 18/4/2004

…unfortunately the Connex banner at Caulfield decided to rebel against its new overlords.
"Welcome to nnex" - Connex takes over from M>Train, 18/4/2004

Traffic in Collins Street near Swanston Street. Yep, not changed much. If you want to move quickly in this area, don’t bring a motor vehicle.
Traffic in Collins St, near Swanston St (March 2004)

Photos from March 2004

Continuing my series of ten year old photos

The serene setting of Caulfield South Primary School, where my kids went. Like many schools of that era, the original main building is lovely, and conceals the portable classrooms out the back.
Caulfield South Primary School (March 2004)

The old Elizabeth Street tram stop on Collins Street, westbound. It’s not hard to see why they’ve rebuilt these stops into platform stops, for safety and to speed up loading, as well as providing accessible stops — though some of the old safety zones still exist, particularly on William Street and Latrobe Street.
Collins Street at Elizabeth Street, tram stop (March 2004)

Still one of my best photos of Punt Road traffic, taken from Richmond Station above. Also a reminder that they often call for road expansion to help freight move more efficiently, but the bulk of traffic on the road is single-person cars.
Punt Road traffic (March 2004)

Trams queued at the Swanston Street superstop outside Flinders Street Station. Despite it being almost five years since privatisation, there were still quite a few trams in The Met green livery, though at the front of the queue is one in the M>Tram colours… M>Tram by this point had actually pulled out, and in April would be taken over by Yarra Trams.
Trams queued in Swanston Street at Flinders Street (March 2004)

A monolith of art deco in the foreground, while in the background is Michael Schumacher on the big Bourke/Swanston billboard, advertising the Grand Prix or mobile phones or something. Further back a building is under construction — it might be the BHP Billiton headquarters on Lonsdale Street? I think this photo was taken out the back of a Collins Street building where I worked at the time.
Melbourne city skyline (March 2004)

My old “bathtub on wheels” Magna in the driveway in Carnegie, the day the out-of-control bush at the front of my house decided to pull down the telephone cable. At least, I think it was the telephone… hopefully not the power.
Cable pulled down by bush (March 2004)

Melbourne city skyline, this time seen from the river. A few buildings going up in the background.
Melbourne city skyline from the river (March 2004)

I posted about this at the time, but down at Southbank for a while was this chalk art of Doctor Who, including portraits of the first eight Doctors. The new series had just been announced, and I think a few weeks later they added Christropher Eccleston to the work.
Doctor Who pavement art, Southbank (March 2004)

Safety around trams

This short safety video was produced for the new “GoldLinq” light rail system on the Gold Coast, which opens this year… but the tips in it are just as relevant for Melbourne.

Of course for our local ads, we’ve got skateboarding rhinos.

PS. In light of two newspaper polls over the weekend (they’re like trams/buses, you wait for ages, then lots turn up at once), I’ve updated this article from last year: What do people want prioritised? PT or roads? Every survey says PT.

A look inside the new E-class trams

Melbourne’s first new trams in years — and the first Australian-built trams in about twenty years — were officially launched yesterday, after months of testing around the network.

The first two “E-class” trams, numbered 6001 and 6002 started service. I managed to catch one for a ride at lunchtime.

As you can see from the video, the destination displays look very flickery on camera. They aren’t like that to the human eye — they’re very clear. It’s a problem with LED displays which plagues anybody trying to snap a photo or video of newer public transport vehicles and automated signage.

The tram is pretty nice inside. Low-floor trams often suffer from a lack of seating — the Combino D class trams in particular. This wasn’t too bad, with plenty of open space near the doorways, but what seemed like a reasonable number of seats along other sections of the tram. That said, it was off-peak, and everybody who wanted a seat got one. It’ll be a different story in peak hour.
E-class tram interior

E-class tram

One thing to watch for, especially if you use a wheelchair or a pram, is there is a noticeable slope in the doorway, unlike previous models of tram which are flat at that point. Not a big issue; it’s quite visible. I assume this is so the main part of the floor can be a bit higher.
E-class tram entrance

Apparently there is external CCTV to catch motorists who try and illegally overtake trams. It’s unclear how these incidents will be reported, but this is a step forward given it’s such a common and dangerous occurrence.

In all, the design looks excellent. One little niggle: the route number has been placed on the left. This doesn’t make sense in a city where at most stops, people wait for their approaching tram on the opposite side — when more than one tram arrives together, it makes it difficult to see which one is yours. On the older locally-made trams, the route number is on the right, making life easier.
Trams lined up in Swanston Street

If you want to take a ride on the new trams, they’re running on route 96 for now. If you have the Tram Tracker app, you can find them by using the tram-spotter’s feature that lets you search for a tram number: 6001 or 6002.

In all, 50 have been ordered, coming into service over the next 5 years. The older low-floor trams will cascade onto other busy routes such as the 86 and the 19 and 59… if they reach the 59, hopefully that’ll mean at last the hospital precinct has an accessible tram service — it’s been a long time coming.

Update Thursday: Some observers have noted that the acceleration of the tram from a standing start is a bit too fast, leaving some passengers wobbling around a bit; also that the gap between the tram and the platforms is larger than necessary. Here’s a snap of the latter — it does appear to be less flat and a bigger gap than, say, on Perth’s trains.

E-class tram - gap to platform

New sculpture: W-class tram

Speaking of sculpture, there’s a rather splendid new one at the corner of Spencer and Flinders Streets — a full-size replica of a W-class tram.

Tram 1040 sculpture, Melbourne

Officially titled “Raising the Rattler Pole – The Last of the Connies”, it was installed last week, and when I went by a day or two later, appeared to be getting a lot of interest from passers-by.

There’s a fair bit of (not necessarily accurate!) detail on the underside…

Tram 1040 sculpture, Melbourne

City of Melbourne has posted a video of them doing the installation:

Finally, here’s another W-class tram (not the real 1040; this is number 961) photobombing the sculpture:

Photobombing the Tram 1040 sculpture, Melbourne

The artist is David Bell — on his web site are some photos of the sculpture being built.

Apparently it lights up at night… must go past sometime after dark to take a look.

Elizabeth Street tram works / #RoadMorons invade the Bourke Street Mall

    Works on the new Elizabeth Street tram platform stops are going full steam ahead. This is significant, because with the rollout of the new E-class trams onto route 96, it’s expected some low-floor trams will be available for the first time on Elizabeth Street, at last providing accessible services from the CBD to the Hospital Precinct. (You’d think this would have been prioritised before, wouldn’t you?)

    Elizabeth St tram works

    Traders might be complaining about it, but there was no shortage of people around yesterday at lunchtime, and while noise and roadworks may be an inconvenience, it’s not as if the local shops don’t benefit from their location next to one of Melbourne’s busiest tram streets.

    As I looked around the western end of the Bourke Street Mall, I noted this car coming along.

    Bourke Street Mall, car comes into tram stop

    Dear oh dear. #DumbWaysToDrive

    Between two trams, it stopped in the tram stop, unable to go back because of trams behind it, unable to go forward because the road was closed up ahead.

    To the amusement of bystanders, it was directed by Yarra Trams staff to do a clumsy three-point turn, nearly colliding with several pedestrians and the tram behind it.

    Unbelievable. #DumbWaysToDrive #RoadMorons

    Car making a 3-point turn between tram platforms, Bourke Street Mall

    Only a minute or two later, another car came into the tram stop. This one being a four-wheel drive, the staff present decided to let it go ahead over the unmade road surface to escape.

    Another one! Where are they coming from?! #DumbWaysToDrive #RoadMorons

    Ignoring the signs. All the many signs.

    Where do these clowns come from? There was no evidence they’d been involved in delivering to shops in the Mall.

    Some might claim the signage around the place is not sufficient, but you’ll note that these drivers first had to ignore the signs entering Swanston Street (or Bourke Street from Russell Street):
    Eastbound Collins St at Swanston St

    In Swanston Street from the south there are more signs directing you to U-turn before getting to the intersection with Bourke Street:
    Northbound Swanston St approaching Bourke St

    From the north there are signs telling you not to drive through the tram stop:
    Southbound Swanston St at Little Bourke St

    Another set of signs clearly say No Entry into the Mall, except if you’ve got a specific permit:
    Westbound Bourke St at Swanston St

    Yet another set of signs add that you shouldn’t drive through the tram stop at the western end.

    So it’s not just a case of “I didn’t see the signs”, it’s a case of not seeing (or ignoring) three or four separate sets of signs.

    Central section of Bourke Street has been a pedestrian mall since 1983. For that matter, Swanston Street has been restricted to traffic in daylight hours since 1992. I’d have thought at least drivers from the Melbourne area should have got an inkling of the restrictions in these areas by now.

    Oh well, it’s nice to know that occasionally people do get told off for driving where they shouldn’t. This pic from a few months ago:

    Bourke Street near Swanston Street

    …in fact, Marcus Wong snapped some motorists in the Mall around 4pm yesterday getting a ticking-off from police.

    Update 1:30pm: What the heck, more pictures added.

Photos from ten years ago – October 2003

Here is another in my series of old photos from when I first got a digital camera.

M>Train (which came after Bayside trains, and before Connex) had a rather nice livery and logo. Here’s a Comeng train heading towards the city on the outer stretches of the Upfield line. Myself and Peter, another PTUA bod, had gone out there to look at the spot for the proposed Campbellfield Station… still not built.
M>Train on the Upfield line (October 2003)

Daniel The Thinker. This was part of a bunch of pics I took for a possible animated web site menu I was pondering. It never happened.
The thinker (October 2003)

A screen grab from my first (I think) big media scrum for the PTUA. I think the topic was station staffing. Yes, they got my name wrong. Don’t believe everything you see on TV.
Daniel's first media frenzy (October 2003)

Sunset over the city, snapped up high in the building my day job was in at the time.
Sunset over the city (October 2003)

Do you remember when you could exit straight out of Melbourne Central, up to Swanston Street via a direct escalator, without having to navigate a maze of shops along the way? Ten years ago this month the plans to change it became public.
Melbourne Central Station main exit (October 2003)

A view from the Rialto, south over the river.
View south over the river  (October 2003)

The Flinders Street overpass over King Street, since (thankfully) demolished. Look at all that precious riverside land used for car parking. (Some of it still is, mind you.)
Kings Street overpass (October 2003)

A 3-car Hitachi train, looking the worse for wear, rolls into Murrumbeena station. I assume the lead cab was normally in the middle of a 6-car set, and years of residue off the pantographs hadn’t been cleaned off properly. Within a year or two, most Hitachi trains would be prematurely scrapped, leading to overcrowded trains as patronage leapt up.
Hitachi train at Murrumbeena (October 2003)

#RoadMorons Award Of The Week goes to…

…this person, who ignored the convention to keep left of the white line in Flinders Lane, and came up against this tram coming around the corner.

Friday lunchtime: eastbound tram meets westbound car

The tram actually had a fair pace making the turn — luckily it stopped in time to prevent a collision.

The motorist backed out of the lane, and hopefully learnt a lesson.

The car backs into the correct lane, and the tram continues on