Trams of Australia

Z class


[Link to picture of Z1 tram] St. Kilda Rd, 1995 [5]
Nos: 1 - 100
Introduced: 1975 - 79
Withdrawn: Currently in service
Electrics: ASEA Tramiac control, 4 x 57 kW motors
Size: 16.56 m x 2.67 m
Seating/Crush load: 48/125
Max speed: 85 km/h?

This tram offers a substantial improvement in performance and passenger comfort over the old trams. It introduced heating for passengers, which in Melbourne's climate, might be considered overdue. Its design was strongly based on prototype tram 1041 (which itself had links to the experimental PCC car 980) and on the Gothenburg (Sweden) class M28 tram. But, as Melbourne's first new tram for 20 years, and the first really new design for several times longer, it is not surprising that there were one or two problems with this design.

Principal among these is the door arrangement. The front door was designated for entrance only, and the rear for exit. This was perhaps intended to speed loading and unloading of passengers, but it had the opposite effect, largely because the conductor was in a fixed seated position behind the driver. Queues would form, out the front steps on to the street, and hold up the tram. On previous trams all could have boarded and the tram move off while the conductor sold tickets. This silly arrangement was probably an attempt to ease the city toward driver-only trams.

Standing passengers also had a tendency to crowd between the front and rear doors and seemed most reluctant to stand further to the rear of the rear door. Thus a partially empty tram could become too crowded to board.

The other main mistake made was to use Boselli destination boards (made like the old airport-style "flapper" signs). When introduced, these were harder to read than the traditional roller-blind type, and have been mechanically unreliable. Readability was later improved with a change of lettering style.

These problems were both fixed with the Z3.

It is a high floor tram, which makes it harder for older people to board than the older dropcentre design.

When first introduced, these trams were an appalling orange colour, but they have recovered. The numbering was started from 1, presumably for marketing reasons (all-new etc). Of course, as numbers grew with the later A-class, duplications occurred, and a few old W2-class trams, which were still on the rails, had to be re-numbered.


[Link to picture of Z2 tram] At Preston Depot [14]

Nos: 101 - 115
Introduced: 1979
Withdrawn: Currently in service

There is hardly any difference between these and Z1s. This picture shows the original colour scheme, with the orange fading to brown. I told you it was bad!


[Link to picture of Z3 tram]At Wattle Park terminus, 1994. [5]
Nos: 116 - 230
First introduced: 1979 - 84
Last withdrawn: Currently in service
Electrics: AEG/Siemens chopper control - regenerative braking, 2 x 195 kW motors
Size: 16.74 m x 2.67 m
Seating/Crush load: 42 (50 on trams with conductor stations replaced by seats)/125

With this tram, efforts were made to overcome the shortcomings of the Z1. Its high power consumption was reduced with the use of chopper control, and the exit door was moved to the middle of the tram (with a second small exit door at the very rear). The seated conductor, unfortunately was retained, although recently some trams have had the two conductor stations removed.

In addition this tram returned to the use of the more readable roller-blind type destination board, with white writing on a black background.

This tram was introduced in a gold colour scheme, because the awful orange used on the Z1s and Z2s had started to turn a dirty brown colour. However, it too has repented.

Here is another picture, at David Bromage's Railpage Australia.

[5] Thanks to Daniel Bowen for the pictures on this page.

[14] Thanks to Andrew Cox and the Ballarat Vintage Tramway for this photo. Photo taken by Andrew Cox at Preston Depot. Used by permission.