B-class Melbourne tram
|Number in service||131|
|Fleet numbers||B1 2001-B1 2002
B2 2003-B2 2132
B2 (Apollo): 40 (Seated)
B2 (Apollo): 120 (Standing)
|Train 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)
|Traction motors||2 x AEG ABS 3322
195 kW (261 hp)
|Electric system(s)||600 V DC catenary|
|Current collection method||Pantograph|
|Track 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 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 built by Comeng (later ABB), 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 at the end of an order for A2-class trams. They were followed by 130 B2-class trams built between 1987 and 1994. All were built by Comeng and later ABB in Dandenong. 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.
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.
When the Melbourne tram network was privatised in August 1999, 55 B2-class passed to M>Tram, while the two B1-class and other 75 B2-class went to Yarra Trams. All became part of the Yarra Trams fleet in December 2002 when the network was reunited.
In 2007 the dot-matrix displays were replaced with LED equipment and cab air-conditioning fitted in 2009. In 2014, an upgrade of the interiors commenced. Seats were removed and replaced with 'lean seats' as fitted on C and C2 class trams, that increases 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 were aimed at increasing capacity while providing better use of space and flow through the vehicles. Step-well lighting was also improved, providing better visibility by changing to LED lighting. The program aimed to add capacity of approximately 1,100 passengers to the B-class fleet and was completed in early 2014.
In June 2015, the installation of automated onboard passenger information system, similar to that used on the E class fleet, commenced at Camberwell depot. This program also changed over the entire B class fleet destination displays from the previously fluorescent-lit dot-matrix to the more visible, bright orange LED type seen on the Z3 class.
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. Both B1s were 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 initially operated out of Camberwell depot on routes 70 and 75, before B1 2001 was transferred to South Melbourne and B1 2002 to North Fitzroy in 1987 when the St Kilda and Port Melbourne lines opened. Both had compressor issues in the early to mid 2000s, but were later rectified, both being based at East Preston depot by this stage.
In 2016, both B1-Class trams were meant to have been withdrawn after an organised farewell tour was hosted by Yarra Trams on 2 February 2016. However, as of August 2016. B1 2001 remained in service while B2 2002 is in storage.
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 St Kilda and Port Melbourne light rail conversions, they quickly spread across the system. 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.
It was intended that they be used to replace trains on the Upfield railway line but this did not eventuate. In September 1992, 2102 was delivered in Melbourne & Metropolitan Tramways Board chocolate and cream livery.
In February 1992, 2089 was taken to Canberra and displayed in the city as part of a promotion for a planned light rail scheme. In November 2001, 2057 and 2059 collided on the corner of Nicholson Street and Victoria Parade. The undamaged portions were married together as 2059 while the two damaged portions were rebuilt at Preston Workshops and returned to service as 2057.
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: Malvern East to Melbourne University
- 11: West Preston to Victoria Harbour Docklands
- 19: North Coburg to Elizabeth Street
- 58: West Coburg to Toorak
- 59: Airport West to Elizabeth Street
- 64: Brighton East 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 Docklands
B-class trams operated on the following routes prior to their abolition:
- B1 Class B1 Class Vicsig
- Wilson, Randall; Budd, Dale (2005). Melbourne tram book. Sydney: University of New South Wales Press. pp. 31, 33. ISBN 0 86840 646 5.
- "Metros" Railway Gazette International March 1983 page 157
- B2 Class Vicsig
- Hoadley, David (1995). "B class". Trams of Australia. Retrieved 10 September 2013.
- B-Class Yarra Trams
- Dunn, John (2013). Comeng: A History of Commonwealth Engineering Volume 5, 1985-2012. Kenthurst: Rosenberg Publishing. pp. 87–94, 200–207. 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.
- "Melbourne News" Trolley Wire issue 279 November 1999 page 25
- Some facts about the new Melbourne tram network Yarra Trams 19 February 2004
- "B-Class tram upgrade delivers capacity and safety boost". Yarra Trams. 18 October 2013. Retrieved 19 October 2013.
- "E-Class trams on Route 11 & new passenger info displays - all part of improving Melbourne's tram network". Yarra Trams. 2015-06-22. Retrieved 12 December 2015.
- B1.2001 Vicsig
- B1.2002 Vicsig
- Cross, Norman; Budd, Dale; Wilson, Randall (1993). Destination City Melbourne's Electric Trams (5 ed.). Sydney: Transit Publishing Australia. pp. 19, 20, 109. ISBN 0 909459 18 5.
-  Farewell
- "Canberra" Trolley Wire issue 249 May 1992 page 21
- "Melboune" Trolley Wire issue 288 February 2002 pages 29-31
- Heasley, Andrew (16 April 2003). "Standing room only". The Age. Retrieved 10 September 2013.
Media related to B class trams at Wikimedia Commons