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!
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.
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.
All the cars have undergone total rebuilds, and all except 272 have
had the spur gears replaced with helical gears.
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
Riders on the streetcar are even invited to recitals of the Tramways Band at
along with a helpful suggestion on how to get there, although it does
fail to mention the pre-requisite 747 journey!
Here are two of the trams at the depot
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
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.
information about No. 531).
Rio Vista, California
W2 No. 369 is operated in Dallas on McKinney Ave., a line which is
Ironworld Discovery Centre, Minnesota
W2 Nos 601 and 606 are here.
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.
 Thanks to Daniel Bowen, (firstname.lastname@example.org)
for these four Seattle tram pictures
 Thanks to Val Golding,
(email@example.com) for this Seattle information.
 Thanks to Walter E. Rice, for additional
information and corrections.
 Thanks to Ian Stevens and the Sydney Tramway
Museum for this picture.
 Thanks to Eric Rosenberg for the link to the site at San Jose.
 Thanks to Bill Bolton for the Memphis