Safety and access lagging on the trams

When we will have a safer, modern, fully accessible tram network?

This story on Thursday about tram passenger Caitlin Morrison being attacked on a tram was very alarming. Everybody has a right to be safe on public transport.

What made it even worse was that there was no CCTV to provide evidence of the incident to help identify the culprit.

Channel 7 news, 11/5/2023

The tram in question was a Z class, on route 57.

I was surprised to hear that only C2 and newer trams have CCTV. I think I assumed it was far more commonplace, if not ubiquitous.

Looking at the Yarra Trams page summarising their fleet, we can see how many trams there are, and also see which have air conditioning and low floors. I’ve added the info on CCTV.

ModelYears builtNumberAir conLow floorCCTV
Totalexcluding heritage (W)51364.3%39.0%32.0%

Despite the official info that B class trams don’t have CCTV, I notice at least some have what appears to be a CCTV camera mounted next to the driver’s cab. Perhaps it’s not fitted to all of them and/or has limited coverage – despite a refurbishment not too long ago.

B class tram, front door and cab

While many trams are lacking air con, low floors, and CCTV, 100% of the Metro train fleet has air-conditioning, and even the oldest Comeng trains from the 1980s have had CCTV retro-fitted for about 20 years.

There are 100 E class trams that have all these key features, and from what I understand, they’re generally proving overall to be a pretty good design.

But it took 11 years to get 100 trams, from their announcement in 2010 to the last deliveries in 2021.

C-class tram at Kew Junction
A C1-class tram (with no CCTV) passing a Safety Zone (with no level boarding)

At that rate, phasing out just the non-airconditioned trams (Z and A class) would take another 20 years. And it would take another 10+ years to also phase out the B class and get to all low-floor trams. And even longer to also get to 100% of the fleet having CCTV.

The current commitment of 100 next generation trams will just about replace the Z class, but still leave around 200 without low-floor access or CCTV.

B-class tram in Carnegie
A high floor B class tram at the Carnegie terminus platform

Melbourne’s tram network may be an icon of the city, but it’s severely lacking in modern features on the vehicles, as well as other upgrades such as traffic light priority to improve speed and network efficiency.

And let’s not even talk about platform stops. The progress on those is incredibly slow, despite DDA deadlines.

Caitlin Morrison’s case has brought some attention to the issue of CCTV. What will it take to get government to accelerate upgrades to provide a safer, modern, fully accessible tram network?

By Daniel Bowen

Transport blogger / campaigner and spokesperson for the Public Transport Users Association / professional geek.
Bunurong land, Melbourne, Australia.
Opinions on this blog are all mine.

7 replies on “Safety and access lagging on the trams”

The one time I was threatened was with a bunch of other people. No one did anything and I had to get off.

It’s a real pity that there is such disregard for tram stop and rolling stock accessibility

Imagine if the government committed to a Level Crossing style campaign to upgrade the tram network. Much cheaper meaning lots of stops upgraded, much wider impact and incredibly visible. Impacts many lower socio-economic stakeholders such as those with disabilities. A huge miss off the back of the LXRP success

What is preventing the Melbourne tramways being converted into a modern light-rail system such as Sydney now has, with full low-floor level boarding and virtually complete separation from other traffic? Can trams on lines like Wattle Park or West Coburg be justified as opposed to replacement by electric buses?

If they’re going to be used for at least another 5 to 10 years, they should at least be retrofitted with CCTVs.

I’m a teacher, and I take the VLine (Gippsland line) to work. The other day, a fellow passenger told me that a student from my school had been committing a sex-related crime. I told her not to worry, as all these trains have CCTV – then looked around and found that the new “feeling” Vlocity train I was on didn’t have any at all.

Fortunately, I was able to figure out who the culprit was by getting another student to identify them. But it blows my mind that not all public transport has CCTV on it. I’m going to write an angry letter to my local member.

Z-class were a bad design from the start, they should have been scrapped decades ago, and the A / B / C1 should be heavily updated to match as much tech on the current fleet as possible.

The government should upgrade the tram network into a modern light rail system, and shouldn’t cave to NIMBYS like on the route 96 project.

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