B-class Melbourne tram
|Number in service||132|
|Length||B1: 23.50 m (77 ft 1 in)
B2: 23.63 m (77 ft 6 in)
|Width||B1: 2.67 m (8 ft 9 in)
B2: 2.77 m (9 ft 1 in)
|Height||B1: 3.35 m (11 ft 0 in)
B2: 3.65 m (12 ft 0 in)
|Wheelbase||1.8 m (5 ft 11 in)|
|Weight||B1: 32.5 t (32.0 long tons; 35.8 short tons)
B2: 34.0 t (33.5 long tons; 37.5 short tons)
|Passenger capacity seats||B1/B2: 76
B2 (Apollo): 40
|Passenger capacity standing||B1/B2: 110
B2 (Apollo): 120
|Traction motors||2 x AEG ABS 3322
195 kW (261 hp)
|Electric system(s)||600 V DC catenary|
|Current collection method||Pantograph|
|Gauge||1,435 mm (4 ft 8 1⁄2 in) standard gauge|
The B-class are a two-section, three-bogie articulated class of trams, (officially classed as light rail vehicles on the Yarra Trams website), that operate on the Melbourne tram network. Following the introduction of two B1-class prototype trams in 1984 and 1985, a total of 130 B2-class trams were ordered by the Victorian Government and built by Comeng (later ABB) in Dandenong.
They were developed for the conversion of the St Kilda and Port Melbourne railway lines to light rail, and introduced by the Metropolitan Transit Authority, and later the Public Transport Corporation between 1984 and 1994.
In preparation of the conversion of the St Kilda and Port Melbourne railway lines to light rail, two prototype B1-class trams were built in 1984 and 1985.:31, 33 They were followed by 130 B2-class trams built between 1987 and 1994. All were built in Dandenong, by Comeng and later ABB. They were the first articulated trams on the Melbourne tram network, and the B2-class were the first air-conditioned trams.
On the request of the Victorian transport minister, who wished the last of the B-class order to be low-floor trams, an articulated low-floor design was developed by Comeng from 1989. The tram was to ostensibly utilise the components from the B-class and be partially low-floor, with internal stairs over the bogies. The design progressed quite far, with concept art, design schematics, and a mock up produced, and work on the first body shell commenced. The project was cancelled in 1990, with the new transport minister opting to finish the full B-class order instead of the low-floor variant; this was on the back of disputes between Comeng and the Public Transport Corporation, a cabinet reshuffle, and ABB's acquisition of Comeng.:200–207 The prospect of low-floor access was raised again in the late 1990s when the Public Transport Corporation considered adding a low-floor section to the B-class trams, between the two sections. However, at a cost of $700,000 per tram it was not considered cost effective, and not carried out.
Yarra Trams announced in late 2013 that $4.4 million in funding had been secured from Public Transport Victoria to upgrade the B-class fleet. Seats are being removed and replaced with 'lean seats' as fitted on C and C2 class trams, that will increase capacity by seven to nine passengers while providing space for prams and shopping carts, while extra hand rails will also be installed floor to ceiling, and seats will be re-covered. These changes are aimed at increasing capacity while providing better use of space and flow through the vehicles. Step-well lighting will also be improved, to provide better visibility. The program is expected to add capacity of approximately 1,100 passengers to the B-class fleet and be completed by early 2014. However as of September 2014, some B2 class trams still have not had new lighting installed on the step-wells. The end of the B2-class tram production line with tram B2.2128 saw the last Melbourne-built Melbourne-run tram for 12 years, with the E-class being its successor.
The B1-class comprises two trams built as prototype light rail vehicles built by Comeng in 1984 and 1985 for the St Kilda and Port Melbourne light rail conversion projects.:31, 33 Both B1s are fitted with air compressors and air brakes (the only other trams currently in service also fitted with air brakes are the W class), and were originally fitted with both trolley poles and pantographs. They were originally built with dual height steps to allow for level boarding at railway platforms and street level, but both have had these features removed, with low floor stops build adjacent to the railway platforms instead. They have a very similar interior to proceeding B2-class, except they have no air-conditioning, and are fitted with opening windows and different sun shades.
B1 2001 was delivered to the Metropolitan Transit Authority on 7 February 1984 and entered service on 19 December 1984, while B1 2002 entered service on 17 December 1985. Both had, now rectified, compressor issues in the early to mid 2000s, and are currently still in service, being based at East Preston depot.
Following the B1-class trams, an order of 130 B2-class trams was completed by Comeng (later ABB) between 1987 and 1994, originally for the light rails they quickly spread across the system.:31, 33 Although quite similar to the B1-class, they differed in several ways, they were the first Melbourne trams to feature air conditioning, include dot-matrix destination signs, and although the electronics of the B2-class were similar to earlier Z3 and A-class trams, they were fitted with gate turn-off control systems.:31
In August 1999, the Melbourne tram network was privatised, and the B2-class fleet was divided between Swanston Trams (later M>Tram) and Yarra Trams. Both companies began their own repainting and refurbishment program that saw new liveries and internal colour schemes. Following M>Tram ceasing operations in 2004, all B2-class trams went to Yarra Trams.
In 2003 Yarra Trams refitted ten B2-class trams with the "Apollo" seating layout, in which some seats were replaced with "bum racks" (similar to those seen in the C-class trams), in an effort to increase passenger capacity. All B2-class trams remain in service and are painted in either the Yarra Trams livery, or have all-over advertising applied.
B1-class trams operate on the following routes:
B2-class trams operate on the following routes:
- 1: East Coburg to South Melbourne Beach
- 3/3a: East Malvern to Melbourne University
- 8: Moreland to Toorak
- 11: West Preston to Victoria Harbour
- 19: North Coburg to City
- 55: West Coburg to Domain Interchange
- 59: Airport West to City
- 64: East Brighton to Melbourne University
- 67: Carnegie to Melbourne University
- 70: Wattle Park to Waterfront City
- 75: Vermont South to City
- 86: Bundoora RMIT to Waterfront City
B-class trams operated on the following routes prior to their abolition:
- "Yarra Trams Load Survey Report May 2014" (PDF). Public Transport Victoria. Retrieved 19 September 2014.
- B1 Class B1 Class Vicsig
- Wilson, Randall; Budd, Dale (2005). Melbourne tram book. Sydney: University of New South Wales Press Ltd. ISBN 0 86840 646 5.
- B2 Class Vicsig
- Hoadley, David (1995). "B class". Trams of Australia. Retrieved 10 September 2013.
- Dunn, John (2013). Comeng: A History of Commonwealth Engineering Volume 5, 1985-2012. Kenthurst: Rosenberg Publishing. ISBN 9781922013521.
- "melbourne trams exemption reasons (5.2 What should be done to make Melbourne trams accessible?)". Australian Human Rights Commission. Retrieved 10 September 2013.
- "B-Class tram upgrade delivers capacity and safety boost". Yarra Trams. 18 October 2013. Retrieved 19 October 2013.
- B1.2001 Vicsig
- B1.2002 Vicsig
- Heasley, Andrew (16 April 2003). "Standing room only". The Age. Retrieved 10 September 2013.