Melbourne trams and speed cameras

Years ago I found a speed camera set up in an interesting location – beside the tram tracks on Maribyrnong Road, Ascot Vale.

Z3.165 on route 82 passes a mobile speed camera setup on Maribyrnong Road

Checking the speeds of both motor vehicle,s and a a procession of trams on route route 57 and 82.

Z3.200 on route 57 passes a mobile speed camera setup on Maribyrnong Road

Tram drivers have been caught speeding before – such as this 2006 article from ‘The Age’.

A Melbourne tram has been clocked speeding by police – the first time a driver has been caught by a radar gun.

A traffic policeman with the laser radar gun clocked the tram at 57kph in a 40kph zone on Malvern Road, Prahran, shortly after 7.30am, a police spokeswoman said.

The officer intercepted the tram and issued the driver with an on-the-spot fine, she said.

“It’s the first time that a member has detected a speeding tram. He said it was quite unusual,” she said.

The officer, from Stonnington traffic management unit, said the tram driver was “co-operative”, the spokeswoman said.

“There was no animosity,” she said.

The driver was fined $215 and will lose three demerit points from his normal driver’s licence.

Yarra Trams spokesman Colin Tyrus said the driver also would be counselled by the company and would be subject to an internal disciplinary process, but would not disclose the process for privacy reasons.

“There’s no exception for tram drivers to the speed limit,” Mr Tyrus said.

“This is something that Yarra Trams regularly refers to in refresher training and initial training, that drivers are required to observe the road laws of the state of Victoria, and that includes speed limits.”

As well as running red lights.

About four trams an hour are running red lights in Melbourne’s CBD, a Herald Sun investigation has revealed.

Pedestrians have had to jump out of the way as trams hurtle through intersections on a red light.

But Victoria Police statistics reveal that since September 2006 only two tram drivers have been booked for running red lights.

A spokesman for the Rail, Tram and Bus Union said: “I don’t think any driver blatantly goes through a red light.”

Yarra Trams spokesman Colin Tyrus said tram drivers were trained to do their best to be on time, but not at the expense of safety.

He said trams were 30m long and unable to accelerate through an intersection like a car.

He added that drivers could cause injuries to passengers if they hit the brakes too suddenly.

Tram drivers are required to hold a normal driver’s licence – but for tram drivers who started the job before the rule was introduced in 1984, they had to be grandfathered in.

Lenny Bates started working at the Kew depot in 1955, forsaking a promising career as a registered plumber. In the ensuing 5½ decades he was a conductor, a driver, a trainer of hundreds of other drivers, and finally a driver again.

He spent his later years on routes 109 from Box Hill to Port Melbourne and 48 from North Balwyn to Docklands, gaining recognition and affection for his colourful and detailed announcements about local landmarks along the route.

As trams evolved, Mr Bates embraced whatever training was required to master the new models. ”Lenny came to the depot when we had 1920s technology, and progressed through that into today’s high-tech trams … He came from pencil and paper up to the touch screen,” Mr Andrews says.

But he never learnt to drive a car, even after a rule was brought in that tram drivers must have a valid driver’s licence. An exception was made for him.

Footnote: how fast can trams go anyway?

The Yarra Trams “Infrastructure – Tram Track Design” standards list the maximum speed for each class of tram.

Flash of blue as an E class tram powers through the frog at William and Bourke Street

Under Appendix C “Tram Specifications”.

Z3, A1, A2, B1, B2 classes
65 km/h powers off
75 km/h forced braking
Speed at max current draw: approximately 30 km/h
Acceleration: 1.5 m/s² ± 0.05

Citadis C1 class
77-80 km/h powers off
No forced braking
Speed at max current draw: 29 km/h @ 600V, 21.8 km/h @ 450V
Acceleration: 1-30 km/h ± 1.57 m/s², 1-60 km/h ± 1.57 m/s²

Citadis C2 class
70 km/h powers off
No forced braking
Acceleration: 1.03 m/s² ± 5%

Combino D1 class
70 km/h powers off
No forced braking
Speed at max current draw: 39-55 km/h
Acceleration: ≤1.3m/s² to 39 km/h, ≤0.95m/s² avg. to 70 km/h

Combino D2 class
70 km/h powers off
No forced braking
Speed at max current draw: 30-55 km/h
Acceleration: ≤1.3m/s² to 30 km/h, ≤0.86m/s² avg. to 60 km/h

Flexity E class
Max speed: 80 km/h
60 km/h traction cut
65 km/h brakes apply
Acceleration: 1.3m/s² to 30 km/h (fully loaded)

As well as the standards to which new track is built to.

Laying new tram tracks along Toorak Road at St Kilda Road

In table B16 “Minimum Design Speed”.

Straight Track and Tangent Track 85 km/h
Curves up to 50 m radius 15 km/h
Curves from 50 to 100 m radius 20 km/h
Curves from 101 to 240 m radius 30 km/h
Curves from 240 to 429 m radius 45 km/h
Curves from 430 to 999 m radius 60 km/h
Greater than 1000 m radius 85 km/h
Through special work 15 km/h
Minimum speed for mainline curves into tram stops 40 km/h
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13 Responses to “Melbourne trams and speed cameras”

  1. Andrew says:

    Sloppy reporting by The Age. There was a general exemption for any existing driver who didn’t hold a motor vehicle license, not just for Bates. There were quite a number of them and there may still be a few.

    That’s the theory about Z,A,B classes but in practice many of the those speed limiting systems don’t work, and a couple cut power too early, before 60 km/h is reached.

  2. Tramologist says:

    The specifications for W8 and Comeng trams are too vague. The acceleration of A class is 1.2 m per second squared, I assume the same or slightly lower for B class. None of those classes can reach 1.5 m per second squared. Can W8 class ever reach 65 km/h? I don’t think so. They still have original motors with designated top speed of 48 km/h.

  3. gxh says:

    One issue about trams running red lights is that there seems to be tolerance of trams starting from a standing start (such as at a tram stop) on the amber. I don’t know the words of the rule, but my impression is that it’s only OK for a driver to enter an intersection on an amber if you can’t stop in time. However, you only have to stand for a few minutes at many major intersections to see that the rule for trams seems to be applied differently. I can’t help but wonder if this there’s a policy of officially allowing this.

    • Tramologist says:

      You can’t start on an amber, but there is a delay in the electric control on trams. The tram might appear to be stationary but the driver already applied power on the green with the disc brake pumped off, and current gradually building up. If the driver then applies brake on the amber, it’s possible that the front of the tram fouls the pedestrian crossing.

  4. Paul Curtis says:

    Seeing trams are unregistered because they are not driving on the road, I think you could beat this in court. ^_^

  5. Tramologist says:

    Route 12 trams have been captured exceeding the speed limit of 50 km/h in St Kilda. The police didn’t fine the drivers, but sent a warning letter to the depot, which was paraphrased and pinned up in front of the starter’s office.

  6. Marcus;
    The detail for the W8 is not even close to being correct. Traction cuts out at 35km/h, a warning tone sounds until the tram reaches 30 km/h and then cuts out below that, where traction is restored. Above 40km/h the tram immediately applies a penalty brake application. After which the tram can not be moved at more than 10 km/h until reset by the maintenance staff.

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