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Yarra Trams is a tram operating company in Melbournemarker, Australia. It is a partnership between French company Keolis and Australian company Downer EDI Rail. The company operates 28 major tram routes and 474 vehicles of 6 different classes.


Yarra Trams was established in October 1997 when Met Tram was split into two business units in preparation for privatisation of the Public Transport Corporation. In August 1999, ownership of Yarra Trams was transferred to the private sector.

After the collapse of M>Train and M>Tram in December 2002, the State Government expressed interest in creating one metropolitan train operator and one tram operator. On 18 April 2004, Yarra Trams assumed operation of the whole Melbourne tram network. The Melbourne tram network spans some 245 km and has over 1,700 tram stops. It is the third biggest tram network in the world.

Yarra Trams current metropolitan franchise expires in November 2009. The current CEO of Yarra Trams is Dennis Cliche. Dennis was promoted to this role in September 2005 following the resignation of Hubert Guyot, who left to head a Transdev company in Genoa, Italy. Yarra Trams currently employs around 1,200 tram drivers and 250 customer service staff. Services operate for nearly 20 hours per day. A total of 141 million trips were taken in 2002 and 2003, rising to nearly 150 million in 2004.

On 25 June, 2009, the Victorian State Government announced that Yarra Trams' contract for running Melbourne's tram system will not be renewed. From 3.01am on November 30, 2009 the Melbourne tram system will be operated by Keolis Downer EDI, which will retain the Yarra Trams name. At the changeover, a new Yarra Trams logo will be introduced.



The Yarra Trams fleet consists of almost 500 trams, operated from eight depots located around the system. The bulk of the fleet is made up of Z, A and B Class trams, which were built by Comeng between 1975 and 1994.

In October 2001, Yarra Trams took delivery of 36 Citadis trams which have primarily operated on route 109 to complement the extension to Box Hill. As part of the acquisition of the failed M>Tram in 2004, Yarra acquired 39 Combino trams and oversaw the delivery of another 20 Combino trams originally ordered by National Express.

Yarra Trams also operate heritage W Class trams, namely on the City Circle tourist service. W Class trams are also used on routes 30, 78 and 79. Due to these trams being limited to 40 km/h as a result of a series of modifications due to braking problems, their use is restricted to ensure limited interface with modern trams.

In 2003, Yarra Trams trialled a seating layout which became known as "Apollo". The trial involved removing 30 seats from a B Class tram and replacing the removed seats with "bum racks" which are found in Citadis trams. This resulted in a higher capacity for standing passengers on crowded services during peak hours. A further ten trams received the seating layout during refurbishment.

The network must be compliant with disability legislation by 2011, which will require all trams to have the "low floors" that the Combino and Citadis trams have. To this end, the State Government are currently looking to invest in a sizable number of new trams to accommodate this need in time. One such example is the "Bumblebee" bright yellow trams that are currently on lease from France, operating exclusively on the light-rail route 96 to St Kilda.


Yarra Trams currently runs under the Metlink banner and utilises the Metcard ticketing system. Each tram has a coin only ticket machine on board. The on board machines currently sell City Saver, 2 Hour, Daily and Senior tickets. Trams are also equipped with a number of ticket validators.

Major superstops in the CBD also have coin-only ticket machines. Tickets can also be purchased from Railway Stations and retail outlets displaying a blue Metcard flag.

Most tram routes operate entirely within Zone 1, however Routes 75, 86 and 109 enter Zone 2.

Network expansion

Since privatisation, the tram network has grown in size as a result of a number of extensions. The accessibility of the network has also been improved, with a number of platform stops built.

In March 2000, trams reached the new Melbourne Docklandsmarker precinct for the first time. Since then, a line connecting LaTrobe St and Flinders St via Docklands has been constructed as well as a further extension along Docklands Drive to NewQuay, which opened in January 2005. Route 109 was extended 2.2 km from Mont Albertmarker to Box Hillmarker in May 2003. The extension to Box Hill has provided a direct link between Box Hill and suburbs such as Balwynmarker, Kew and Richmondmarker.

In July 2005, a 3 km extension of route 75 from East Burwoodmarker to Vermont Southmarker opened. Critics argue that the line should have been extended to Knox City Shopping Centre (as promised by the incumbent State Government in 1999). A shuttle bus service, operated by Ventura Bus Lines, provides a service between Vermont South and Knox City which sees each tram met by a connecting bus.

Think Tram

Full time tram lane

Yarra Trams is a partner in the Think Tram program, aimed at improving tram travel time and reliability. In conjunction with the Victorian government several initiatives are in place to run trams better on time.

Such idea implemented is the 'Part-time tram lane' - where trams have right of way on tram tracks often during peak hours. Several ideas such as raised curb dividers have also been in use to physically prevent cars from straying onto tram tracks. An example of these dividers can be seen on Spencer Street.


A D Class Melbourne tram.
Yarra Trams have been the subject of criticism for what some consider to be an overly high-handed approach to discouraging fare evasion on its network. On September 14, 2005, it was reported that a young commuter suffered a minor injury when he was arrested by three Authorised Officers for assaulting a female officer with his skateboard after a request was made for his details. The officer sustained a "substantial blow to the head"; but, the alleged offender was remanded to appear in court on charges of assault, refusing to supply name and address, indecent language, and resisting arrest, as well as travelling without a valid ticket. However, some onlookers were not in agreement, claiming that the man was attempting to free himself and was pleading for the officers to stop hurting him.

Yarra Trams allegedly receives $20 from the Victorian State Government for all fines paid to the state government on their network to help cover the cost of enforcing the Transport Act 1983. This has aroused scepticism in some in regards to the motivation for their recent crack-down on fare evasion.

To this day, Yarra Trams is still the only main publc transport operator in Melbourne to not have 'Meet Our Managers' sessions. Connex's senior management regularly hold public feedback sessions at City Loop stations, while V/Line senior management also travel on regional trains at the rate of about once a month to have 'consultation' sessions with their passengers.


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