Colonial Tramcar Restaurant
The Colonial Tramcar Restaurant Company Limited was formed in 1981 to operate restaurant trams, with 1927 W2 class tram number 442 acquired for conversion after 55 years of Melbourne & Metropolitan Tramways Board service. Conversion work commenced in 1982 at Preston Workshops, with the drop centre floor raised to give a level floor throughout, and a single entry door provided on one side of the tram. Two saloons were provided either side of a central kitchen and washroom, one saloon seating 12 while the other seats 24 patrons. It was based at the Metropolitan Transit Authority's (MTA) South Melbourne depot.
The service started on 2 November 1982 (Melbourne Cup day) with the single tram, as amendments were required to the Liquor Licence Act to allow for the service of alcohol on a mobile restaurant. The driver and conductor were provided by the MTA while onboard staff are Colonial Tramcar Restaurant employees. Until 1992, the restaurant had to carry a conductor to comply with tramways union regulations about two-man teams operating all trams (in case the brakes failed). This conductor cost the Colonial Tramcar Restaurant $50,000 per year until former premier Jeff Kennett did away with the need for conductors. One of the conductors was a lady who could be seen knitting throughout the entire service.
Two 1948 SW6 class trams, 937 and 939, were later added to the fleet in October 1992 and February 1995 respectively. With the closure of South Melbourne depot in February 1997, operation was transferred to Southbank depot. In 2006 the 442 was retired and replaced with a third SW6 class tram 938. In 2011 nos 937 and 939 were withdrawn from service and replaced with 935 and 964. All have distinctive burgundy livery, and can seat 36 passengers each.
The restaurant, which has one lunch and two dinner sittings each day, advises booking well in advance. The trams are boarded from the Clarendon Street Junction stop near the Melbourne Exhibition and Convention Centre. They then run on selected standard tram routes through the city and some nearby inner suburbs, returning to their origin. The ride in the restaurant tram is generally quite steady. Food is prepared offsite in a commercial kitchen and is loaded onto the trams in a raw form. Each tram has its own chef and all of the food is freshly cooked as the tram is moving. The menu provides a limited choice, as does the wine list. However, unlimited alcohol is included in the fixed, prepaid meal price.
In 1985 The Colonial Tramcar Restaurant became the first restaurant in Melbourne to ban smoking.
The Colonial Tramcar Restaurant is a four-time winner of the coveted National Tourism Award (1984, 1988, 1992, and 1993). It is also a nine-time winner of the Victorian Tourism Award (1984, 1985, 1986, 1988, 1989, 1991, 1992, 1993, 2002) and was welcomed into the Hall of Fame in 1993. Hall of Fame is awarded to an entrant that has won the same category over three consecutive years.
On 19 October 2018, Yarra Trams announced that the restaurant trams had been withdrawn from service and were no longer allowed to operate on the network due to safety considerations. At the same time, Yarra Trams said it was working with the restaurant operator to enable a "stationary dining experience" to continue.
- Spårakoff – tram converted to a bar in Helsinki
- Fondue-Tram in Zürich
- Silver Star Cafe – dinner-parlour and observation car converted to a restaurant in Port Hedland
- Hoftrammm in The Hague
- Colonial Tramcar Restaurant Company Pty. Ltd (2010), The Colonial Tramcar Restaurant, [South Melbourne] Colonial Tramcar Restaurant Company Pty. Ltd, retrieved 11 August 2017
- Tram-rolling-stock-Part-3 : Page 48, Heritage Victoria, ...Designation:W2 442. (PW) /Construction and operation details: 29/8/1927 / Last allocated depot: South Melbourne Depot / Out of service and subsequent history.: withdrawn from regular service in May 1986 after running 2,451,954 kilometres and was sold to the Colonial Tramcar Restaurant who rebuilt and air-conditioned it to operate around Melbourne as a restaurant tram, numbered 01...
- "News in Brief" Trolley Wire issue 203 December 1982 page 2
- "The City of Melbourne: Dining in Style by Tram" Trolley Wire issue 214 October 1984 pages 3-11
- John Beckhaus (1989). Australian Rail Companion. Sherborne Sutherland Publishing. ISBN 1-86275-005-X.
- "Melbourne News" Trolley Wire issue 251 November 1992 page 24
- "Melbourne Trams" Trolley Wire issue 261 May 1995 page 17
- "Melbourne Notes" Trolley Wire issue 270 August 1997 page 25
- "Restaurant tram No 442" Trolley Wire issue 304 February 2006 page 11
- Dmytryshchak, Goya (2012-08-11). "Overcooked: iconic dining tram catches alight". The Age. Retrieved 2016-04-06.
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