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FormerlySwanston Trams
IndustryTram operator
PredecessorPublic Transport Corporation
Founded1 October 1997
Defunct18 April 2004
SuccessorYarra Trams
Area served
ParentNational Express

M-Tram (stylised as M>Tram) was a tram operator in Melbourne, Australia. Formed in October 1997 as Swanston Trams, a business unit of the Public Transport Corporation, it was privatised in August 1999 becoming a subsidiary of National Express. In December 2002 National Express handed the franchise in, with the State Government taking over until negotiations were concluded for Yarra Trams to take over in April 2004.


On 1 October 1997 in preparation for privatisation, the Public Transport Corporation's tram operations were split into two business units, Swanston Trams and Yarra Trams.[1][2]

National Express successfully bid to take over the Swanston Trams services from 29 August 1999.[3][4][5] National Express were also awarded the Bayside Trains franchise and V/Line concession.[6][7]

In October 2000 Swanston Trams was rebranded as M-Tram.[8][9] After an attempted sale of the franchise to Yarra Trams failed,[10][11] National Express handed back the franchise in December 2002, having been unable to renegotiate financial terms with the State Government.[12][13]

KPMG were appointed to operate the business on behalf of the State Government.[14][15] In May 2003 the State Government announced it would establish a single company to operate both networks, and was negotiating with Yarra Trams (who operated the other half of the network) to operate this entity. In February 2004 an agreement was reached, and the networks were reunited on 18 April 2004.[16][17][18]


The M-Tram network was focused on the north–south tram routes in Melbourne, running 17 routes along Swanston, Elizabeth and William Streets though the CBD and then into the suburbs as well as cross-suburban routes.[19]

National Express inherited 30 W, 94 Z1, 12 Z2, 84 Z3 and 55 B2 class trams and took over the operation of four depots; Brunswick, Essendon, Glenhuntly and Malvern.[20]

Part of the franchise agreement required replacement of older rolling stock with newer models, and refurbishment of the existing rolling stock. Siemens Combino trams were purchased as the D1 and D2 class, the first of 38 D1 three-car class trams entering service on 19 December 2002[21] and the first of 21 five-car D2 class trams on 3 March 2004.[22][23][24][25] Z3 and B2 class trams were also internally refurbished by M>Tram, receiving green seat pads, and yellow stanchions and grab rails.[26]


  1. ^ City in Brief Railway Gazette International December 1997 page 835
  2. ^ Melbourne on the brink of change Trolley Wire issue 273 May 1998 page 3
  3. ^ All change for private trains and trams Railway Digest August 1999 page 23
  4. ^ NEG conquers Oz Rail issue 363 11 August 1999 page 11
  5. ^ Swanston Trams Franchise Trolley Wire issue 278 August 1999 page 22
  6. ^ National Express Group Awarded Three Franchises National Express June 1999
  7. ^ National Express takes root in Melbourne Railway Gazette International 1 October 2000
  8. ^ Moving Melbourne - A New Brand Coming for Melbourne's Transport Transit Australia January 2001 page 18
  9. ^ Metros Railway Gazette International July 2001 page 441
  10. ^ Talks between Melbourne tram operators Yarra Trams 18 October 2002
  11. ^ Tram networks to reintegrate Railway Gazette International November 2002 page 667
  12. ^ National Express walks out of Australian rail service The Daily Telegraph (London) 17 December 2002
  13. ^ Nat Express pull back Down Under The Daily Telegraph (London) 3 September 2004
  14. ^ Receivers take over train, tram group The Age 24 December 2002
  15. ^ Victorian passenger services get new managers Rail Express 28 January 2003
  16. ^ "Vicsig – Trams – Farewell M>Tram Tour". vicsig.net. Retrieved 29 April 2008.
  17. ^ Yarra Trams takes over Railway Gazette International May 2004 page 254
  18. ^ Yarra Trams takes over in Melbourne Trolley Wire issue 297 May 2004 pages 21/22
  19. ^ Prelude to Privatisation - New Rail & Tram Capital Works for Melbourne Railway Digest January 1999 page 13
  20. ^ Swanston Trams Trolley Wire issue 279 November 1999 page 25
  21. ^ News in Brief Railway Digest February 2003 page 14
  22. ^ Victorian rolling stock contracts announced Railway Digest May 2000 page 20
  23. ^ Market Railway Gazette International May 2000 page 277
  24. ^ Melbourne - Swanston Trams Trolley Wire issue 281 May 2000 page 30
  25. ^ "Media Release: Super Tram Comes to Melbourne". dpc.vic.gov.au. Archived from the original on 17 July 2005. Retrieved 29 April 2008.
  26. ^ "Vicsig – Trams – Interior". vicsig.net. Retrieved 29 April 2008.

External links[edit]

Preceded by Trams in Melbourne
North-south routes

Succeeded by