There are fewer than 10 of Melbourne’s original Z-Class trams around today, and by the end of the month, they’ll all be gone.
The city’s iconic tram, first built in the mid-1970s, has been deemed redundant now that their old parts and electronics are becoming increasingly difficult to source and maintain.
“Z1 and Z2-Class trams have served Melbourne well for 40 years, but their planned retirement is part of a modernisation of Melbourne’s tram network, to meet the future needs of Australia’s fastest growing city,” says Yarra Trams spokesman Simon Murphy.
The early Z-Class trams have a slightly more “pointed” front than the A-Class and B-Class trams that came after it. They also only have two doors on each side, unlike the A and B-Class trams, which have three.
Over the past 18 months, the number of Z-Class trams in service each day has been reduced from 30 to five-to-seven on average. This has been a planned retirement program, designed to coincide with the introduction of high-capacity E-Class trams, which can carry 210 passengers, compared to the Z-Class, which has a capacity of 70 people.
“Next-generation E-Class trams provide more capacity, more comfort and more accessibility. Each low-floor E-Class tram provides triple the capacity of a Z-Class tram,” says Murphy.
Some of the trams will be recycled. Others may be taken on by enthusiasts or museums. Murphy says converting a tram for a different purpose, such as a moving bar, could be an option if there were someone willing to back it. At this stage, “There isn't a set price,” says PTV media advisor Nicholas White, so anything’s possible. Perhaps Easey’s could repurpose a tram and sit it next to its sky-high train carriages as another dining space. Or maybe Mr Burger can use one to actually make good on its hypothetical “Burger Tram”.
If you’re after one last ride on a Z-Class tram, they operate on three routes: between Melbourne University and East Malvern (Route 3), East Brighton (Route 64) and Carnegie (Route 67).
Images courtesy of yarratrams.com.au.