I somewhat missed this story over the past few days, with lots of other things going on, but earlier this week the two heritage trams arrived from Melbourne that will run around the tram loop in Wynyard Quarter. Here’s Auckland Transport’s media release:
The return of trams to Auckland streets came a step closer today when two historic tramcars rolled off a ship from Melbourne at Jellico Wharf.
Trams last graced the streets of Auckland in 1956. Waterfront Auckland has leased two 1920’s trams – a W2 Class Tram and X-1 Class Tram – to run on the tracks now being installed in a 1.5km loop within the Wynyard Quarter.
Waterfront Auckland Chief Executive John Dalzell says both trams have been restored at the Bendigo Tramway Museum in Victoria, Australia.
“The trams look great,” he said. “They have both been painted in the original 1950’s ‘carnation red’, and will soon be emblazoned with ‘Waterfront Auckland Trams’ livery.”
The 17 tonne, 48 feet long W2 tram has a seating capacity of 52 and a 2-person tram (driver and conductor). The 9 tonne, 31 feet long X-1 tram has a seating capacity of 32 and requires one person – the driver.
The trams will remain securely within the Ports of Auckland custom controlled area until their purpose built home – tramcar housing currently under construction within Wynyard Quarter – is completed. From early August, following an operational testing period, the trams will run in a 15-minute clockwise circuit along Jellicoe, Halsey, Gaunt and Daldy Streets.
And a photo:
It’s my understanding that quite a lot of thinking is going on behind the scenes – especially as part of the City Centre Master Plan and the Waterfront Master Plan – about where this tram route might be extended to in the future. The obvious initial extension is to Britomart, and I think that connection is essential for the tram loop to be successful. Once we get to the Britomart the possibilities are endless. Should we go up Queen Street as part of a pedestrianisation of that street? How about out Tamaki Drive to Mission Bay as part of a tourist focused service? Or up to Ponsonby? Or a longer route that links with the current tramline connecting the two MOTATs?
The tram loop being constructed is well described by many as a “beach-head” or a “foot in the door”. We are now having huge discussions about how light-rail might play a useful role in Auckland’s transport future – which I think is an exciting step forwards as it does have a role to play.