Trams of Australia

Australian Trams in the United States of America

Up until a few years ago, Melbourne had a thriving export trade in old W2 trams. Since this seemed to be leading to a situation where preserved W2s could be found everywhere except in Victoria, the government has placed a ban on further exports. Anyway, several US cities now run Melbourne trams, mainly as tourist attractions. So if you have travelled on a historic tram in the USA, there is a good chance that it came from Melbourne!

Memphis, Tennessee

Now heading the list of US cities with Melbourne trams is Memphis, which has acquired the trams that were formerly running in New Orleans. W2 trams in operating condition are 234, 353 (disguised as 1978), 417, 539, 540, 545, and 553. Not yet in running condition are 331, 478 and 626 from New Orleans, and still unrestored is 503. These trams make up over a third of the Memphis fleet, of which most of the rest come from Porto. [24]

Seattle, Washington

[Link to picture of Seattle tram] The US city with the next highest number of W2 trams is Seattle, which runs five (272, 482, 512, 518 and 605) built 1925-30, on its Waterfront streetcar line (route 99). An extra tram (525) was sold to Seattle for parts. The trams have undergone some modification - the gong (bell) has apparently been supplemented by a horn to satisfy railway laws (which causes a bit of a shock to Australian visitors), and I believe that the characteristic drop-centre section has been raised, to suit high platform loading instead of street-level loading. [1]

[Link to picture of Seattle tram] All the cars have undergone total rebuilds, and all except 272 have had the spur gears replaced with helical gears. [Link to picture of Seattle tram] They are in daily service, providing a 20 minute frequency, 7 days per week, 6 am till midnight (7 pm in Winter). The Waterfront line is 2.5 miles long. During the (northern hemisphere) Spring of 1995, all the remaining old trackage was relaid with new rails and concrete ties. An extension of of the line of two miles, to Seattle Center, is under consideration. [11]

[Link to picture of inside of Seattle tram] Riders on the streetcar are even invited to recitals of the Tramways Band at Wattle Park along with a helpful suggestion on how to get there, although it does fail to mention the pre-requisite 747 journey! [5]

Here are two of the trams at the depot [Link to picture of Seattle trams] [16]

San Francisco, California

Two W2 trams (496 and 586) have been sold to San Francisco. That city's new F (Market) line from the Transbay Terminal to Castro Street is being extended to Fishermans Wharf. It is mainly operated by PCC cars, but a limited service with "historic" cars, including W2-496 is planned. No. 586 is not currently operational.

San Jose, California

W2 tram 531 operates in San Jose on a downtown loop, but it can run on the entire system, since it is now equipped with a pantograph. It is the only historic car which can do so. San Jose also has W2 tram 403, but it is not operational. (More information about No. 531).

Rio Vista, California

No. 648.

Dallas, Texas

W2 No. 369 is operated in Dallas on McKinney Ave., a line which is being extended.

Ironworld Discovery Centre, Minnesota

W2 Nos 601 and 606 are here.

New Orleans

Three W2 trams formerly operated on the riverfront line in New Orleans. But the line was converted from standard gauge back to New Orleans' own unusual 5-foot broad gauge, and the trams were sold to Memphis.

Gomaco Trolley Co, Iowa

W2 trams sold to this company for re-building for the American market include 336, 353, 497, 525, 533, 539, 540, 545, 551, 553, 567, and 630. Five of these trams have appeared in Memphis. W5 trams sold to Iowa (but I don't know if this company was the buyer) include 751, 756, 799? and 839.

[5] Thanks to Daniel Bowen, ( for these four Seattle tram pictures

[11] Thanks to Val Golding, ( for this Seattle information.

[13] Thanks to Walter E. Rice, for additional information and corrections.

[16] Thanks to Ian Stevens and the Sydney Tramway Museum for this picture.

[18] Thanks to Eric Rosenberg for the link to the site at San Jose.

[24] Thanks to Bill Bolton for the Memphis information.