Ding ding on Melbourne’s route 69 tram

“69” – it being out giggles in those of us who have their mind in the gutter, and Melbourne’s route 69 tram used to be fodder for many jokes until it was abolished in 2004.

D1.3529 passes under the Monash Freeway, headed north on Glenferrie Road with a route 69 service

Some history

Route 69 once ran from St Kilda Beach to Cotham Road in Kew, via Balaclava Road, Hawthorn Road, and Glenferrie Road, on tracks constructed by the Prahran and Malvern Tramway Trust (PMTT) in four stages:

  • Wattletree Road (Stop 54) to High Street (Stop 57) was part of the original system opened on 30 May 1910,
  • Hawthorn Road (Stop 48) to Wattletree Road opened on 16 December 1911 as part of the line to Windsor Station,
  • Hawthorn Road to Luna Park opened on 12 April 1913,
  • High Street to the Cotham Road terminus opened on 30 May 1913.

The first trams operated by the PMTT only displayed destinations, not route numbers.

Throwing the points in the depot fan

With the route 69 designation not being applied until 24 June 1934.

Photo by Weston Langford

The demise of route 69 came on Sunday 17 October 2004, when routes 16 and 69 were merged at the St Kilda end, and renamed “Melbourne University to Kew via St Kilda”.

But 69 lives on

Melbourne used to have a tram numbered 69 – Z1.69. Completed in 1977 it remained in service until 2015.

Z1.69 northbound at Swanston and Bourke Streets

Wags also love to display ’69’ on the route number board of W class trams – including the operators of ‘Tram Bar’ at the Arts Centre.

SW6.969 converted in a bar, located outside the Arts Centre

And whoever was responsible for dumping these unwanted W class trams outside the Newport Workshops.

SW6.905, SW5.845 and W7.1005 stored on the ground outside at Newport Workshops


The 2004 media release for the demise of route 69 was titled “New improved routes for Melbourne’s tram network” – I’m having trouble keeping my mind out of the gutter.

Around the world

The November 2004 edition of ‘Trolley Wire’ looked at route 69 trams around Australia and the world – tram systems in Brisbane, Vienna, London, Paris, New York and Philadelphia all once used the number – but Melbourne was the last.

Stuck fast on a Swanston Street tram stop

Idiots driving through the tram stops on Swanston Street isn’t anything new – but I was in the right place at the right time during my lunchtime walk, when I spotted yet another vehicle ignore the NO ENTRY signs and drive through the tram stop on Swanston Street.

Confused van driver decides to head through the Swanston and Bourke Street tram stop

The van driver squeezed past waiting pedestrians to drive down the bike lane.

Van driver heads past waiting pedestrians to drive down the bike lane

Then swerved around a pedestrian in the bike lane.

Pedestrian on the bike path, and the van driver swerves around them as well

You’re getting awfully close to the edge there…

You're getting awfully close to the edge there...

And CRUNCH – the bottom of the van bottoms out on the tram stop!

And CRUNCH - the bottom of the van bottoms out on the tram stop!

‘Yeah, you’re stuck!’

'Yeah, you're stuck'

Yarra Trams staff also came over for a look.

Yarra Trams staff also come over for a look

The first police arrived on the scene a few minutes after the van got stuck.

First police on the scene two minutes after the van got stuck

With more police arriving in an unmarked car.

More police arrive in an unmarked car

Southbound trams still running past the stuck van.

Southbound trams still running past the stuck van

But northbound trams hat to stop running.

Disruption message on the TramTracker screen at Swanston and Bourke Street

Stuck at Bourke Street with nowhere to go.

Z3.195 leads three northbound tracks stuck at Bourke Street with nowhere to go

They had to run ‘bang road’ (wrong direction) down Swanston Street.

Until they reached the crossover at Flinders Lane, where they crossed over onto the southbound track.

Back up at the Bourke Street tram stop, a tilt tray truck eventually arrived.

First attempt at removing the stuck van with the tilt tray

With a few attempts required to line it up with the stuck van.

Nope - need to move the tray a bit to extract the stuck van

Eventually it was all hooked up.

All hooked up, and ready to extract the stuck van

And up went the van.

And up it goes

All loaded up, and ready for trams to run again.

And it's all loaded up

Play it again, Sam

And here is the van getting stuck, in animated GIF format.

via Gfycat

And over on Reddit

From a commenter on /r/Melbourne:

I like how someone manages to take picture before the “accident”.

I’ve photographed so many idiots driving down Swanston Street it was only a matter of time until I caught someone come off second best.

Looking back at Reservoir’s rejected grade separation project

With work about to start on the grade separation of the High Street in Reservoir, it seems like a good time to look back at the missed opportunities of the past.

Western side of the tangle of roads at the Reservoir level crossing

Five roads meet at the level crossing:

  • High Street
  • Edwardes Street
  • Broadway
  • Cheddar Road
  • Spring Street

Forming a tangle of roads at the level crossing.

Way back in the 1980s the Road Construction Authority looked into fixing the mess, but decided to kick the can down the road.

Reservoir Rail Level Crossing

Options for improvements to Reservoir Rail Level Crossing and associated intersections were released in a Discussion Paper in October 1985.

The improvement schemes would reduce the current high traffic congestion levels, unsatisfactory accident record and traffic/pedestrian conflict. The investigation concluded that in the shorter term improvements to traffic movement and safety could be made by low cost at-grade intersection improvements.

Provision of grade separation by lowering the rail lines could follow later.

It’s only taken 30 years, but work has finally started on grade separation the intersection – with the new viaduct and elevated Reservoir station is due for completion in 2020.

But the interesting part is to look at the long list of other road upgrade projects mentioned in the same 1986 Road Construction Authority annual report – what happened to them?

Western Bypass Investigation

This study to examine the form and precise location of a new road connection between the southern terminal of Tullamarine Freeway and Footscray Road commenced in late 1984.

The ‘Western Bypass’ was rolled into the CityLink project of the 1990s and extended south to the West Gate Freeway, opening in 2000.

Driving across the Bolte Bridge

Originally built with three lanes in each direction, in 2008 an extra lane opened.

Four lanes now open on the Western Link elevated viaduct

Eastern Corridor – Doncaster to Ringwood

In its early stages the Metropolitan Roads Access Study (METRAS) identified traffic congestion, together with the associated environmental and safety effects both on arterial and local roads, as a major issue in the Eastern Corridor.

One possible traffic management option to relieve these problems was seen to be the development of an arterial road along the Eastern Road Reservation. This road could extend from the Eastern Freeway Terminal at Doncaster Road to the Maroondah Highway at Mt Dandenong Road, Ringwood.

The Eastern Freeway extension was opened to Springvale Road in 1997.

Noise walls beside the Eastern Freeway at Doncaster Road

Then extended to Ringwood in 2008 as part of the EastLink.

Entering the Mullum Mullum Tunnel on Eastlink

Pascoe Vale Road Relief Study (PVRRS)

In September 1985, the Minister for Transport announced his support for the Pascoe Vale Road Relief Study recommendation that a 7.8 km section of the R5 outer ring route be constructed between Sharps Road, Tullamarine and Mahoneys Road, Fawkner.

Opened in 1992 as the first section of the Western Ring Road.

Western Ring Road Greensborough bound at Sydney Road

Then an extra lane added in 2009.

Northbound on the Western Ring Road approaching Moonee Ponds Creek

Calder Highway – Diggers Rest to Gisborne

Investigations into the future development of the Calder Highway between Diggers Rest and Gisborne were completed in early 1986. This work included a review of initial proposals in the light of submissions received from affected property owners, concerned Shire councils and various government agencies. A summary of the review, together with an outline of the Adopted Proposal for the duplication of the highway with provision for long term development to freeway standards, was released in May 1986.

The Diggers Rest bypass was opened in 1993, duplication to Kyneton completed in 2003, and to Bendigo by 2009.

Princes Highway West – Dennington to lllowa

A summary of investigations into the future development of this section of the Princes Highway was released to affected property owners, Council and various government agencies in October 1985. This section of the highway has low geometric standards and a higher than average accident rate, and the pavement will require major rehabilitation in a few years time if it is to be retained for State highway traffic.

The proposed realignment, which makes use of a portion of the closed Dennington to Port Fairy railway line would improve overtaking opportunities and increase safety by reducing the frustration of drivers and the conflict between through traffic and access to abutting land.

Completed in the 1990s.

That’s five out of five road projects completed, with three of them having received further expansion since they were initially completed.


On the bus – public transport to Fishermans Bend

Fishermans Bend is supposed to be Melbourne’s next new urban development precinct, but there is something lacking – decent public transport.

Hoards of passengers waiting outside Southern Cross for the bus to Fishermans Bend

On the bus

The Fishermans Bend urban renewal area has been divided into four precincts.

With permits already granted for high rise development across much of the Montague Precinct.

But no plans have been made to improve public transport.

With four bus routes the only link between Fishermans Bend and the Melbourne CBD:

  • 235 – City – Fishermans Bend via Williamstown Road
  • 237 – City – Fishermans Bend via Lorimer Street
  • 234 – Garden City – City (Queen Victoria Market)
  • 236 – Garden City – Queen Victoria Market via City

Routes 235 and 237 depart from outside Southern Cross Station.

Transdev bus eastbound on Collins Street passes Southern Cross Station

But no facilities are provided for waiting passengers.

Decent sized crowd waiting outside Southern Cross Station for the route 235/237/238 buses to Fishermans Bend

Not even a token bus shelter.

Passengers waiting at Collins and Spencer Street for a bus towards Fishermans Bend

These buses travel along Collins Street.

Transdev bus #974 rego 8256AO on a route 237 along Collins Street near Southern Cross

Where they get stuck in traffic.

Transdev bus 0184AO on route 235 stuck in Collins Street traffic outside Southern Cross Station

Behind queues of single occupant cars.

Route 237 stuck in traffic on Collins Street outside Southern Cross Station

While being overtaken by trams, which have their own dedicated tracks.

A2.261 on route 48 parallels Transdev bus #433 7833AO on a route 232 service along Collins Street

But still the passengers pile onboard buses in spike of the shabby service.

Passengers board a Fishermans Bend-bound bus at Southern Cross via both front and back doors

Can you imagine how many more people would leave their car at home if the bus service was improved?

So what to do?

A tram bridge between Docklands and Fishermans Bend is a frequent idea that does the rounds – through it won’t be cheap.

But in the meantime, a bus shelter at Southern Cross Station won’t break the bank.

Ventura bus #837 7691AO on route 691 at Ferntree Gully station

And what about some real bus priority.

Route 234 and 236 share the tram tracks along Queensbridge Street.

Transdev bus #598 6862AO on route 234 at Queens Bridge

So why can’t the same thing happen along the Docklands end of Collins Street?


Department of Environment, Land, Water & Planning Victoria animation showing approved developments in the Fishermans Bend urban renewal area.

Photos from ten years ago: January 2009

Another instalment in my photos from ten years ago series – this time a three part post on January 2009.

Road trip!

An extended road trip through Western Victoria was on the agenda, starting down the Princes Highway to Warrnambool.

'You still there?'

As I followed the daily freight train down to the container terminal at Warrnambool.

The crew have arrived at Westvic for the up trip

Then return to Melbourne.

X49 goes for a spin, while I can't help but think of the 'Thomas the Tank Engine' theme

I also stopped inspected a long list of abandoned stations along railway west to Adelaide.


Station building and location board


Looking back over the station building


Orange V/Line signage on the passenger platform


Orange V/Line sign at the down end of the platform, covered with grass

Pura Pura.

Station building and platform remains


Spiked set of switch locked points at the up end of the loop siding, the frog has also been removed

I did see a few freight trains along the way – like this one at Lubeck.

NR47 leads AN9, NSW coal fields loco 8229, NR73, and NR107 on an eastbound steel train through Lubeck

And container wagons in the yard at Horsham.

QR National container wagons in the yard at Horsham

A few stations had become home to freight wagons stored due to a lack of traffic – grain hoppers at Portland.

Stored grain wagons in the yard at Portland

And louvred vans at Murtoa.

Louvred vans stabled alongside the Hopetoun line

Out west are also a number of closed railway lines, like the route to Mount Gambier.

The out of use Sinclair Block Point at 381 km, provision for a TAILS train detection unit but never fitted

Closed in 1995, the level crossings were still in place but the tracks have been paved over.

Princes Highway level crossing looking west

While at Ararat I found the mothballed Avoca line that ran north to Dunolly.

Baulks on the Avoca line at Grano Street, looking towards the station

After a decade lying idle, it was upgraded as part of the Murray Basin Rail Project and reopened to trains in 2018.

Chasing trains

The log train that once ran between Bairnsdale and Geelong is a common theme in my “photos from ten years ago” series, and this month is no different – this time we see the empty train passing through Corio at sunset.

A78, T374 and H2 power the empty log train out of Corio

The final log train ran in June 2009.

Back in 2009 V/Line trains were still painted red and blue, such as this Warrnambool bound service passing the abandoned station of Pirron Yallock, just west of Colac.

N472 passes through the closed station of Pirron Yallock bound for Warrnambool

This was replaced by a grey and white livery in 2007, and the current PTV livery in 2017.

The other notable train I photographed was a refurbished Hitachi train way off the beaten track.

Crossing the Moorabool River

One would never expect to see a suburban train sitting under the roof at Ballarat station.

Awaiting departure from Ballarat station

or headed along the tracks without any overhead wires.

Passing the former junction at Warrneheip

Originally intended to have been retired following the 2006 Commonwealth Games, six Hitachi trains stayed in serivce with Connex Melbourne thanks to an explosion in patronage on the Melbourne suburban network.

In 2008 rust was found in the floors of the aging trains, which led to the trains being transferred to the Alstom Ballarat workshops for rectification works, which saw them back into service until retired for good in December 2013.


Work was continuing of the $36 million upgrade of North Melbourne station. The superstructure had been completed.

Concourse structure done, yellow bits are tracks for the roof to be slid into place

And the first section of concourse roof had assembled, ready to be slid into place along temporary tracks to it’s final home.

Concourse roof under construction, will be slid into place once complete

The new concourse was opened to passengers in November 2009.

Construction was also underway on a brand new station on the Craigieburn line at Coolaroo.

Slew of the standard gauge line for Coolaroo station complete

Tracks needed to be relocated to make room for the platforms, with the station eventually opening in June 2010.

Over at Southern Cross Station the ‘Yardmasters’ building was starting to take shape north of platform 5 and 6.

New V/Line crew office underway north of platform 5/6

While the Myki rollout was slowly proceeding, with the discovery centre at Southern Cross closed for renovations.

Myki discovery centre closed for renovations

So that working ticketing equipment could be installed.

New customer service counter at the Myki discovery centre

It took until December 2009 for Myki to be accepted for travel on Melbourne trains, in a last ditch attempt to meet a “working by the end of 2009” pledge.

Finally, January 2009 saw an extended heatwave hit Melbourne crippling Melbourne’s rail network, leading to a parliamentary inquiry and a day of free travel for train passengers.

Signs on ticket machines at Southern Cross  for the free travel day, Friday January 30

Ticket barriers were thrown open.

Barriers open at Southern Cross for the free travel day, Friday January 30

With signage at stations telling passengers there was no need to buy a ticket.

Signage at South Geelong for the free travel day on January 30


Here you can find the rest of my ‘photos from ten years ago‘ series.