Saturday, October 27, 2012

Melbourne's Train Types

A Tait, or red rattler, 1910 to 1984. Yes, I rode in them and I do not have romantic memories of them. They were draughty, noisy, rough and they lurched. I believe they last of them ran on the St Kilda, Port Melbourne and Sandringham Lines, as being made from wood, they were considered to be too much of a fire risk to run around the City Loop tunnels.

A Harris, or blue train, 1956 to 1988. With the only alternative being a Tait train, I was always excited to catch a 'quiet and comfortable' newer Harris.

Some Harris trains were very heavily modernised but because of concern about the asbestos they contained, they were quite quickly scrapped and ended up as landfill.

Hitachi, 1972 - . Only half a dozen or so still operate. They seemed incredibly modern when they were introduced and they were the first to have heating, though I can remember they made a terrible racket when travelling in City Loop tunnels. Air conditioning for the driver was added to the remaining trains a few years ago.

Photo by M Wong.
Comeng train, 1981- . Positive luxury, with air conditioning and they were blissfully quiet. Unfortunately the air conditioning was unreliable if the weather was hot...yes, some irony there. The air con was upgraded a few years ago.


4D, or Tangara, 1992 - 2002. Yes it looks like a double deck Sydney train and it was made in NSW. There was only the one made and it could only run on one train line because of its height. I never travelled on it. Looks nice though. It was cut up for scrap.

 
X'Trapolis, 2002 - . Very nice and comfortable trains, but not significantly better than the Comeng, in my opinion. This train marked the beginning of buying our trains from overseas, in this case from Alstom of France. This train was the first to have a flexible rubberish joint between carriages, instead of doors.

Siemens, 2003 - .  It too is a comfortable train, but its two doors per carriage, rather than the three in the X'Trapolis, makes for slow loading and unloading. A few years ago, Siemens trains started to overshoot platforms. Drivers were blamed. Eventually management recognised that there was a braking problem with the trains. They have a disconcerting concertina rubber like connection between carriages that mesmerises me as each carriage moves independently.

The future? New trains from Alstom will be appearing on our rails soon. I've tidied up What Tram is that, if you  would like to identify Melbourne's trams.

20 comments:

  1. These pictures made me curious as to what the San Francisco Bart cars look like today. Pretty spiffy really.

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/01/30/new-bart-cars-spark-outrage_n_1242360.html

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I knew what Bart was, but it took time to get the right part of the brain. Bay Area Rapid Transit, I think. The cars do look spiffy, but hard seats?

      Delete
  2. I got a Hitachi yesterday on my way to work. I must admit, I am always a little disappointed when one of those rolls up on my platform (a rare occurrence). They are very screechy and the seats are uncomfortable. I did like their old upholstery (kinda of a tartan pattern).

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Ad Rad, you would be very disappointed if one turned up when it was very hot. I think I would wait for the next one. I remember those seats now, and the grooved green rubber flooring. Its funny you say you caught one, because I have saw three of them in as many days last week.

      Delete
    2. The entire fleet of Hitachi trains was decommissioned. A bloke with land purchased 6 at $6,000 each. The then Vic government then realised they cut the system short and had to buy some back - at $60,000 each and upgrade them. True story.

      Delete
    3. Hi Tim. I am aware of the killing the bloke made. Tell me, was driver air con only added to the ones bought back or had it already been fitted before they were retired?

      Delete
  3. Colin9:35 am

    Interesting collection of suburban trains.
    I don't think you lost anything when the Tangara was dispatched to the scrap heap.
    I also hope that the trains in Melbourne are washed - here, they stopped washing them before the 2010/2011 floods and deluge. Excuse, wasting water and thus able to get rid of cleaning staff. Now heaps of water and still the trains are not washed - they are absolutely filthy. Even the tourists comment on them and previously they were all spotless!
    Certainly a big blot on the promotion of Brisbane as a tourist city! Ah - the ways of the politicans and the bureaucrats! I doubt if you would find a brain amongst them!
    On that cheerful note, have a great weekend.
    Colin

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Colin, I think ours are washed as I haven't noticed that they are dirty. Isn't train washing now a matter of driving the train slowly through the washing system. Take them on and make a fuss about dirty trains, with photos.

      Delete
  4. I loved the Blue Train... it was soooo modern and sexy in the 1960 era.

    But re the 4 D. How could someone make SUCH A HUGE MISTAKE such that, because of its height, the train could only run on one line??? Did we not have any engineers in Victoria? Could the NSW manufacturers not read design plans?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hels, I am unsure if they knew ahead that it could only run on one line. I have seen many examples over the years of engineers' incompetence.

      Delete
  5. I liked the blues too. Aah those days when the doors would stay open yet no one fell out! Imagine that now, with people crammed in like sardines at peak times. Woops, we just lost a few!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Fen, I don't know if it was a Sydney thing or not, but people did often fall out of trains there. You used to get a good breeze through in the summer with the doors open, and of course curse anyone who got on or off who didn't shut the door in the winter.

      Delete
  6. I have memories of the burnt rubber smell from the HItachis in summer when they would get unbearably hot. The double decker one sued to run on my line when I was a teenager, I was always excited if it turned up and I could sit upstairs.

    ReplyDelete
  7. Kat, I don't know about the burnt rubber smell. I recall a smell of burning brake shoes, and an electrical sort of burning smell.

    It must have been fun to ride the special train.

    ReplyDelete
  8. I remember the red rattlers for what they did rattle along the tracks. I also remember they were smoky as you could smoke on the trains at the time. Most red rattlers were stripped of there valuable metal like brass and copper then burnt at Newport Workshops every Friday Afternoon. How do i know this because i worked at Newport Workshops for five years and witnessed many of them burn.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Windsmoke, I recall smoking and non smoking carriages, perhaps on country trains rather than suburban. But when I was young, the air was full of cigarette smoke and I never noticed it.

      Being torched at Newport was an inglorious end to the carriages that served us so well and for so long. Sydney's trams met the same fate.

      Delete
  9. Aircon in Aussie trains and buses is notoriously unreliable in our summers because they are manufactured overseas, usually in Europe, where they don't experience, therefore don't understand, our summer temperatures.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. River, a prime example are our Combino trams from Germany that have woefully inadequate air con, as did your older new trams that had expensive air con upgrades after the addition of heavy window tinting failed to stop people passing out in the heat. Didn't they come from Spain? It gets quite hot there. The blame may lay back here in Australia where would choose the cheapest options.

      Delete
  10. Anonymous6:58 pm

    The red rattlers were everything you said they were but I loved them! I always felt I was going on an adventure when I rode one - even if it was just to Port Melbourne. V.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. V, you knew you were experiencing a train trip. Perhaps I was not quite right when I said I had no romantic memories of them.

      Delete