Z-class Melbourne tram

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Z3 139 (Melbourne tram) in Swanston St, December 2013.JPG
Z3 139 on Swanston Street in December 2013
Manufacturer Comeng
Assembly Dandenong
Constructed 1975–1983
Number in service 114 (May 2016)
Fleet numbers 1-230
Capacity Z1/Z2: 48
Z3: 42 (Seated)
70 (Standing)[1]
Depot(s) Brunswick
Train length Z1/Z2: 16.00 m (52 ft 6 in)
Z3: 16.64 m (54 ft 7 in)
Width 2.67 m (8 ft 9 in)
Height Z1/Z2: 3.55 m (11 ft 8 in)
Z3: 3.41 m (11 ft 2 in)
Doors Z1/Z2: 4
Z3: 6
Weight Z1/Z2: 19 t (19 long tons; 21 short tons)
Z3: 21.8 t (21.5 long tons; 24.0 short tons)
Traction motors Z1/Z2: 4 x ASEA LJB 23/2 57 kW
Z3: 2 x AEG ABS 3322 195 kW
Power supply N/A
Electric system(s) 600 V DC catenary
Current collection method Pantograph
Bogies Z1/Z2: ASEA/GS type 28
Z3: Duwag
Track gauge 1,435 mm (4 ft 8 12 in)

The Z-class are single-unit bogie trams that operate on the Melbourne tram network. Between 1975 and 1983, 230 trams spanning three subclasses were built by Comeng, Dandenong. The design was based on two similar Gothenburg tram models, and a prototype built by the Melbourne & Metropolitan Tramways Board. While the Z1 and Z2-class trams were very similar, the Z3-class had significant design changes.

Since introduction they have had a variety of liveries, and modifications. The Z1 and Z2-class trams have been retired, with 114 Z3-class trams remaining in service.


Gothenburg, M29 (front) and M28 (rear) trams, the inspiration for the Z-class tram
Z1 95 in Metropolitan Transit Authority livery on Swanston Street in September 2006
Z1 78 on St Kilda Road in February 2013
Interior of a Z1-class in December 2013
Z2 101 on Swanston Street in October 2012
Interior of a Z3-class in November 2013
Refurbished Z3 183 in December 2009

When Melbourne & Metropolitan Tramways Board (M&MTB) staff were sent to Europe in 1965 to investigate other tramway operations, they took interest in Swedish trams, and upon return in 1966 drew up specifications, and had a timber mockup built. This mockup was to be the basis for a new tram design for Melbourne. The M&MTB approved of the design, and in 1972 requested a prototype be constructed, the result was PCC 1041 being built at Preston Workshops. It was 'European in appearance' and utilised components bought new, and recycled from an earlier prototype tram, PCC 980.[2]:195–196 Prototype PCC 1041 became the basis of the Z-class trams, with 230 trams influenced by the Gothenburg, Sweden M28 and M29 design, built by Comeng, Dandenong between 1974 and 1983.[2]:197[3][4]:32

Between 1995 and 1999, the remaining 106 Z1s and Z2s were refurbished by Goninan. The bodies were overhauled in an area of Preston Workshops allocated to Goninan while the bogies were sent to Goninan's Auburn, New South Wales facility. On all bar four, the flap type destination displays and route number indicators were replaced by dot-matrix displays.[5]

When the Melbourne tram network was split in preparation for privatisation, all Z-class passed to M>Tram. Those remaining passed to Yarra Trams in 2004, where they were refurbished and repainted into Yarra Trams livery.[6]

It was envisaged that the delivery of the C, C2 and D class trams would allow for the Z1 and Z2s to be retired after the 2006 Commonwealth Games, however rising patronage levels would reqire the retention of 30 Z1 and three Z2s until the E class trams entered service from 2014. Half of these remained in service in December 2015.[5]

In late 2007, the Z3s with analogue signage were refitted with digital signage, replacing the original rolling route destination displays.[5][7]

On 26 October 2011, a Z3-class tram (no. 158), specially liveried as a Royal Tram was used to convey Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip along St Kilda Road from Federation Square to Government House during their visit to Melbourne. The Royal Tram was in regular service until February 2013.[8][9][10][11]



In 1972 Rupert Hamer became Premier of Victoria, promising new trams, which had been highlighted as needed in the 1969 Melbourne Transportation Plan. Comeng, in anticipation of a tender, dispatched workers to Europe who, knowing of the fondness within the M&MTB of the Swedish tram design, acquired the plans for the Gothenburg M29 tram from Hägglund & Söner. It was understood that ASEA would supply the electrical equipment, as they had been involved in the supply of equipment for the Gothenburg M28 which was almost identical to the Gothenburg M29 trams, and had recently acquired the rolling stock division of Hägglund & Söner.[2]:196–197

Tenders for 100 trams based on prototype PCC 1041's design were called for in 1972 with Comeng awarded a contract in 1973. The plans purchased by Comeng proved to be less useful than anticipated, due to them being metric, single ended (with doors only on one side), and to some extent 'over-designed'. Comeng essentially started anew, but retained elements of the structural design and ASEA as the electrical equipment supplier, who would supply equipment from the Gothenburg M28 design.[2]:197–198

There were a number of design changes made which differentiated the Z-class from PCC 1041, including the destination display arrangement.[2]:198 Internally they, like PCC 1041, had conductors consoles that passengers would have to queue for, and only two doors per side, these two features hampered loading and proved unpopular.[2]:196[3] Fitting the ASEA M28 equipment into the Z-class body, which was heavily based on the M29, posed a problem due to the extra doors, tapered ends, and second cab Comeng had added to make them able to operate in Melbourne, this necessitated lengthening the design to accommodate the equipment.[2]:199

Construction started at Comeng Dandenong in 1974, with Dandenong's workforce tripling to cope with the order.[2]:199–200 The first Z1-class tram was delivered in December 1974, and the last in May 1978.[2]:203 Major construction was carried out at Dandenong, with bogie frames fabricated at Granville, and final fit out and commissioning occurring at the M&MTB's Preston Workshops.[2]:199–200, 202

Soon after commissioning it became apparent that the Z-class had ride problems due to stiff suspension, and track differences between Gothenburg and Melbourne. The issues were rectified by the time the 80th tram was constructed, and the fix, rubber secondary suspension, was retrofitted to all trams. The braking systems also had issues, and were seen as insufficient by the M&MTB.[2]:203[12]:31

In anticipation of the Z3-class contract, a Z1-class was fitted with chopper control in 1977 for evaluation purposes. Although it was converted back later, the test successfully demonstrated chopper control trams could operate on the Melbourne tram system without causing interference, and all Z3-class trams were fitted with chopper controls.[12]:31

Most of Z1-class were withdrawn following the introduction of the C and D class trams in 2001/02. Most were sold at auction, with some being donated to tram museums. In December 2013, 30 were still in service. But by December 2015, there were 15 in service.[13] Four have been preserved.[14] Their internal refurbishment had less refurbished features than Z3-class, only seat pads and grab rails/anchors were replaced. The last was withdrawn on the evening of April 24, 2016, and transported to New Preston Depot.[15]


Between June 1978 and February 1979, 15 Z2-class trams were built as an extension of the Z1-class order. These have few differences from the Z1-class built earlier.[2]:203[3] In December 2013, 3 were still in service. But by December 2015, one remained in service.[16] It was withdrawn in April 2016.[15]


A tender for 100 new trams was called by the M&MTB in early 1977, Ansair, Comeng and Siemens tendered. Although Comeng originally planning on using ASEA control equipment, as in the Z1 and Z2-class, they opted to give the M&MTB a variety of options, leading to 28 different possible configurations of control equipment, bogies, and suspension types. Comeng were ultimately selected, and between 1979 and 1983, 115 Z3-class trams were built.[12]:31–36

Although externally very similar to the preceding Z1 and Z2-class trams they had significant design differences, and were a significant improvement on the Z1 and Z2-class trams.[12]:31–36[17] They are fitted with AEG control equipment and Duewag bogies, have an additional door each side (for a total of three rather than two for the Z1 and Z2), drop down (as opposed to top sliding) Beclawat windows and improved headlights. The unreliable flap type destination displays and route number indicators were replaced by rollable plastic film destination displays. They also had much smoother acceleration and braking performance, and improved suspension. The Z3-class build process went smoothly, with few problems, bar a slow delivery of equipment from AEG, and a few minor faults that required remedying after construction.[3][4]:32[12]:31–36

In 2013, a program commenced to refurbish all 114 Z3-class trams at Preston Workshops. They received new seats, painted interior walls, glass replacement with scratch proof film applied, and the Public Transport Victoria livery at Preston Workshops.[18]

As at December 2015, 114 remained in service, one (Z3 149) was scrapped after being destroyed in a fire in 1999.[19] operating from Brunswick, Essendon, Glenhuntly and Malvern depots.[20]


The Z3-class operate on the following routes:


In November 2003 Z1 1 and Z2 101 were set aside for preservation. However rising patronage levels resulted in their return to service in 2008. Z1 1 was later damaged in an electrical fire in January 2014 and was subsequently scrapped.[21] The Melbourne Tramway Museum has Z1 5 in its collection, the Bendigo Tramway Trust Z1 11 and Z1 74, while the Sydney Tramway Museum has Z2 111.[5]


  1. ^ "Yarra Trams Load Survey Report May 2014" (PDF). Public Transport Victoria. Retrieved 19 September 2014. 
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l Dunn, John (2010). Comeng: A History of Commonwealth Engineering Volume 3: 1966 - 1977. Kenthurst: Rosenberg Publishing. ISBN 9781877058905. 
  3. ^ a b c d Hoadley, David. "Melbourne's Z-class tram". Trams of Australia. Retrieved 6 November 2011. 
  4. ^ a b Wilson, Randall; Budd, Dale (2005). Melbourne tram book. Sydney: University of New South Wales Press. ISBN 0 86840 646 5. 
  5. ^ a b c d Wilson, Randall; Budd, Dale (2015). Destination Waterfront City - A Guide to Melbourne's Trams. Sydney: Transit Australia Publishing. pp. 29–32. ISBN 9780909459277. 
  6. ^ "Trams in Melbourne". Yarra Trams. Retrieved 26 January 2012. 
  7. ^ "Business as usual at Yarra Trams". Yarra Trams. 21 August 2007. Retrieved 29 September 2013. 
  8. ^ "Royal Tram now in public service" (Press release). Yarra Trams. 26 October 2011. Retrieved 8 November 2011. 
  9. ^ Shmith, Michael (27 October 2011). "Not the Rolls or Bentley, but a commoner's conveyance gives Her Majesty a royal ride". The Age. Retrieved 8 November 2011. 
  10. ^ Zeeman, Rebecca (25 October 2011). "Z-class a tram fit for a Queen". The Age. Retrieved 9 September 2013. 
  11. ^ Z3.158 Vicsig
  12. ^ a b c d e Dunn, John (2013). Comeng : A History of Commonwealth Engineering, Volume 4 : 1977-1985. Kenthurst: Rosenberg Publishing. ISBN 9781922013514. 
  13. ^ Z1 Class Vicsig
  14. ^ Vines, Gary (2012). "Melbourne Metropolitan Tramway Heritage Study - Tram rolling stock - Part 2" (PDF). Biosis Research. Department of Transport, Planning and Local Infrastructure. Retrieved 26 November 2013. 
  15. ^ a b Zed's nearly dead: Melbourne's first modern trams to be retired within days The Age 13 April 2016
  16. ^ Z2 Class Vicsig
  17. ^ "Melbourne and Metropolitan Tramways Board - Z3 class tram" (PDF). Council of Tramway Museums of Australasia. Retrieved 24 November 2013. 
  18. ^ "Makeover for Z-Class trams". Yarra Trams. 22 August 2013. Retrieved 9 September 2013. 
  19. ^ http://vicsig.net/index.php?page=trams&number=149&class=Z3
  20. ^ Z3 Class Vicsig
  21. ^ http://vicsig.net/index.php?page=trams&number=1&class=Z1

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