Melbourne tram route 96
|East Brunswick – St Kilda Beach|
6001 and 6002 on route 96 on Bourke St, December 2013 .
|System||Melbourne tramway network|
|Vehicle||C2 class, D2 class, E class|
Melbourne CBD (Bourke St)
|End||St. Kilda Beach|
|Length||13.9 km (8.6 mi)|
|Zone(s)||1 – entire route|
|Timetable||Route 96 timetable|
|Map||Route 96 map|
It is one of Melbourne's busiest tram routes carrying 39,700 passengers a day with a frequency of up to every 6 minutes during peak. It has been described as one of the world's top 10 tram rides, highly popular with both commuters and tourists visiting St Kilda's many attractions and special events including the Australian Formula 1 Grand Prix and the St Kilda Festival.
The route began electric operation on 6 May 1956, with the reintroduction of trams on Bourke Street. It was extended to St Kilda on 20 November 1987, with the conversion of the St Kilda railway line to a light rail. As a result it has a lengthy right of way between Melbourne and St Kilda, although the majority of the route is on-road.
Frequent overcrowding problems have seen route 96 become the only route to run the C2 class Melbourne tram, specifically designed to carry more passengers, complementing the D class trams. Due to its high usage, the route was chosen by Yarra Trams, Public Transport Victoria and the Government in April 2012 to undergo major infrastructure upgrades along its entire length to become a "model tram route" for the rest of Melbourne.
The line opened as a cable tram line operated by the Melbourne Tramway and Omnibus Company on 30 August 1887, operating along Bourke St and Nicholson St. It operated until 26 October 1940, when the Bourke St cable lines were abandoned by the Melbourne and Metropolitan Tramways Board in favour of double decker buses. The Bourke St cable lines were the last cable trams to operate in Melbourne. Melbourne and Metropolitan Tramways Board, unhappy with the performance of the buses wished to rebuilt the lines as electric tram services, it was decided to reinstate trams when the buses were life expired, trams on the 88 (predecessor to the modern 86) started on 26 June 1955 with the first tram to East Brunswick operating on 6 May 1956. The W7 class of trams were built for running on these lines and the new Z class trams first ran on route 96.
The line was extended south to St Kilda along Spencer St, the former St Kilda Railway, Fitzroy Street and The Esplanade to terminate in Acland Street on 20 November 1987 following the conversion of the St Kilda Railway (along with the Port Melbourne Line) to light rail. The broad gauge 1,600 mm (5 ft 3 in) track was re-gauged to standard gauge 1,435 mm (4 ft 8 1⁄2 in) and the overhead voltage was reduced from 1500V DC to 600V DC with light rail platforms built adjacent to the former stations platforms.
After the merger of the M>Tram network with Yarra Trams in 2004, most D2 class trams were transferred from Malvern depot to Southbank depot to help alleviate the congestion on the route. Since the introduction of these low floor Combino trams on the route, accessible stops have been built in Bourke Street, Fitzroy Street and St Kilda Esplanade, increasing customer safety and comfort.
In response to frequent overcrowding on the tram system in 2008, the state government leased new C2 class trams from Mulhouse, France specifically to run the route. The first of these new trams began operation on 11 June 2008 with the nickname Bumble Bee 1.
Route 96 Project
On 17 April 2012, it was announced that Route 96 would become the focus of tram upgrades to transform it from a tramway to a light rail system; a "model" for how Melbourne's tram network should operate. The Route 96 Project superseded a similar project of the previous government, Tram 109.
The proposed aims of the project are:
- Providing level access stops along the entire route
- Upgraded termini at Blyth Street, East Brunswick, and Acland Street, St Kilda
- Segregation treatments to better separate low-floor trams from traffic
- Improved priority for low-floor trams at traffic lights
- Improved customer information
The objectives are to:
- Increase access to trams and safety for customers through providing improved infrastructure and information
- Improve tram reliability and efficiency through increased priority and accessible infrastructure
- Ensure better utilisation of the road network with a focus on moving people
- Design a full route of enhancements to demonstrate the benefits of a modern light rail system in Melbourne conditions, compared with a traditional tram network.
In mid-2013, the proposed changes were released to the public. They involved an eventual segregation of trams from traffic along nearly the entire route, and the upgrade of all stops to level access to improve passenger flow and make the network disability-compliant. On Nicholson Street, all on-street parking would eventually be removed to create dedicated tram lanes where it is illegal for cars to drive. Easy-access stops (level access by raising the road to footpath level) would be constructed between Blyth Street and Brunswick Road, while centre island superstops would be constructed between Brunswick Road and the CBD.
The World Trade Centre and Port Junction stops in South Melbourne would be redesigned with a separate bay for the Colonial Tramcar Restaurant, while in St Kilda, some parts of Acland Street would be closed to cars in favour of widened footpaths, pedestrian plazas and tram right of way.
The project has received strong support from commuters, urban planners and public transport advocates, while there have been concerns from shop owners along the route that a loss of on-street parking will negatively affect business.
Route 96 runs from East Brunswick, travelling south on Nicholson Street between the suburbs of, Carlton North, Fitzroy North, Carlton and Fitzroy, past the Royal Exhibition Building in the Carlton Gardens, a World Heritage Site.
It enters the CBD on Spring Street turning west into Bourke Street at Parliament House, travells through the Bourke Street Mall and turns south into Spencer Street, passing Southern Cross Station, it crosses the Yarra River and enters Southbank on Clarendon Street before traversing the suburbs of South Melbourne, Albert Park, Middle Park and St Kilda on a right-of-way - the former St Kilda railway line - with stops at City Road, South Melbourne market, Albert Park, Melbourne Sports and Aquatic Centre, Middle Park, Fraser Street and St Kilda.
At the former railway terminus - St Kilda Railway Station - the tram line exits the private right-of-way and travels along Fitzroy Street and The Esplanade to Acland Street, St Kilda where it terminates.
Not all stops are shown, refer to timetable for full list of stops.
However, during special events, track works or tram shortages, trams running this route can also include:
Special events and services
Several annual events affect the usual services along route 96:
- Australian Formula 1 Grand Prix - most services terminate at Middle Park and are replaced with buses
- RMIT University exams - (held at Melbourne Sports and Aquatic Centre) additional services
- St Kilda Festival - additional services but they terminate in Fitzroy St near Grey St
- Craig, Natalie (19 June 2011). "Learning our lines". The Age. Retrieved 4 November 2013.
- "Tram 96 travels tracks to glory". The Age. 8 March 2008. Retrieved 4 November 2013.
- "Tram 96 among the world’s best — but could be even better". Public Transport Users Association. 8 March 2008. Retrieved 4 November 2013.
- From the Minister for Public Transport (17 April 2012). "Tram route 96 to be upgraded ahead of new trams" (Press release). State Government of Victoria. Retrieved 4 November 2013.
- "Melbourne Tramway and Omnibus Company Limited", Running Journal Vol 9 No 3 (TMSV): 16, retrieved 16 October 2011
- "Our golden years". Yarra Trams. Retrieved 4 November 2013.
- "Towards the modern era". Yarra Trams. Retrieved 4 November 2013.
- "A new century". Yarra Trams. Retrieved 4 November 2013.
- "D2 Class", VICSIG, retrieved 26 September 2011
- "Five more trams to be added to the metropolitan system". Media release from the Minister for Public Transport. Yarra Trams. 7 February 2008. Retrieved 4 November 2013.
- "First of five French Trams now on Melbourne tracks". Yarra Trams. 11 June 2008. Retrieved 4 November 2013.
- "Help Council Have Their Say on Tram Changes". City of Port Phillip. 25 July 2013. Retrieved 4 November 2013.
- "Southbank Depot", VICSIG, retrieved 26 September 2011
- Gough, Deborah (4 November 2013). "Longer and louder: New E-Class tram makes itself heard". The Age. Archived from the original on 4 November 2013. Retrieved 4 November 2013.
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