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NEW! Peruse Manly Council Tramway Feasibility Working Group Agendas, Minutes and Technical Documents.

Artists impression of Belgrave Street as Grand Boulevard

Manly 2015 Concept sketch of Belgrave Street remodelled into a Grand Boulevard, showing trams in central reservation. (Choi Ropiha.)

Origins of the Manly CBD Tramway Loop proposal

The proposal for re-establishing a tramway system in the Manly Central Business District (CBD) was inspired by the initial Manly 2015 draft concept drawings produced by the Architects Choi Ropiha showing trams on a central reservation on Belgrave Street to link Manly to Dee Why.
Ocean Beach end of the Corso in 1913 with Electric Tram

View of the Ocean Beach end of the Corso in 1913 showing electric tram heading to Manly Wharf.

The proposal for a new Manly to Dee Why tram line motivated a re-investigation by Manly Council's Sustainable Transport Committee of the original Manly tramway system that operated between February 1903 and September 1939.

Examination of the history of the original Manly system and its former routes revealed :-

  • it had been constructed in many stages to limit the capital investment required at any one time;
  • the line to the Spit was first operated to terminate via a loop around the centre of Manly.
Download an overview of the History of the Original Manly Tramway. (PDF file 181kB)
W2 in Feb 1989 at corner of William and Collins Streets Melbourne

W2 class tram rounds the corner of William and Collins Streets, Melbourne. (John Hurst)

Objectives of the Manly CBD Tramway Loop

One of the centrepieces of the proposed Manly 2015 scheme involves the construction of a new 800-1000 space carpark under Manly Oval, on the periphery of the Manly Town Centre. Reconstruction of a Tramway Loop around the Manly Town Centre would thus:-

  • provide a method for moving less physically active or able bodied around the flat of Manly, to and from the new carpark via Belgrave Street;
  • provide a novel way to show visitors around the centre of Manly;
  • provide another tourist attraction to Manly that as a tourist destination already draws 6 million visitors per year;
  • provide a system nucleus from which additional electric tram lines could be constructed in affordable stages to provide high frequency transport of residents to and from Manly, reducing the dependence on car travel and carbon emitting vehicles;
  • ensure the South and North Steyne Ocean Beach corridor is retained as a public transport route;
  • provide a highly visible cue in the form of the tramway track that acts as a "magnet" to draw people to this transport service.

The Proposed Route of Manly Tramway

The proposed route is to be a one way loop around the CDB. Historically the line proceeded up the Corso, but due to the pedestrianisation of the Corso it is considered preferable to relocate the line to another parallel street, hence to Victoria Parade, which like the Corso, also has extended street width. The proposed route in the direction of tram operation is thus as follows:-

  • Belgrave Street to East Esplanade;
  • East Esplanade to Victoria Parade;
  • Victoria Avenue to South Steyne;
  • South Steyne past the Corso into North Steyne to Raglan Street (optionally to Carlton Street);
  • Raglan Street (optionally Carlton Street) back to Belgrave Street.

The construction of the line is to utilise ground level power supply to avoid any unsightly overhead wiring given the tree lined route (switched third rail activated by trams when they are physically over each rail section)

Sydney R class 1740 at the National Park Terminus from Loftus in April 2002 (Herman Silbiger)

Preserved Sydney R class tram 1740 on the National Park line near Loftus. Note the drop centre design with lower floor level at the centre doors. (Herman R. Silbiger)

Proposed Stops of Manly Tramway (Raglan Street Option)

The stops are placed to serve the important and popular destinations around the Manly CBD, but carefully located to always allow cars to pass stopped trams (in the process of loading and unloading passengers). Sections of South and North Steyne and East Esplanade are critical in this regard, due to the narrow road width.

  • Stop 1 - Manly Wharf - East Esplanade. (Ferry Wharf and Bus Interchange)
    (The only stop on East Esplanade due to the street width limitations.)
  • Stop 2 - Victoria Parade at East Esplanade
  • Stop 3 - Victoria Parade at Wentworth Street (Manly Village School stop)
  • Stop 4 - Victoria Parade at South Steyne
  • Stop 5 - The Corso and Ocean Beach
  • Stop 6 - North Steyne at Raglan Street
  • Stop 7 - Raglan Street at Whistler Street
  • Stop 8 - Belgrave Street near Raglan Street (Tennis Courts, Manly Oval, and future 2015 carpark stop)
  • Stop 9 - Belgrave Street at Gilbert Street (Council Chambers and Corso stop)

Types of Tramcars Proposed to be Used

To maximise tourist potential, and reduce system establishment costs, it is proposed to use vintage corridor trams. Corridor trams are considered safer than the more open "toastrack" type trams previously used on the Manly system prior to 1939. Depending on rolling stock availability and time frame to commencement of operations, preferred tram types would include Sydney "R" or second preference "R1" types or Melbourne "W6" types. The advantage of the "R" and "W6" types is they have a lowered or "drop centre" design which are slightly easier for less mobile passengers to board. There are currently approximately 150 W-class vintage trams in storage in Melbourne, so these would be the most practical to obtain to commence operations in the short to medium term. The construction of the line to permit operation of vintage trams would not preclude rollingstock being updated to more modern stock at any future point.

Melbourne W6 class 983 on Route 30 in October 2004

Melbourne W6 class tram 983 on Route 30 in October 2004. Note the centre power operated doors. (Adam Carr)

Frequency of Service and Number of Tramcars Required

The length of the loop and the stops proposed above would result in trams taking about 12-14 minutes to complete the loop stopping at all stops. The corridor trams proposed above can hold around 50 passengers each. The frequency of service would be either every 10 minutes (requiring two trams) or every 5 minutes (requiring three trams). These numbers are just to maintain service frequency and do not take into account any additional peak patronage requirements (to meet any passenger demand beyond one full car load) or operationally spare trams (to allow for maintenance and repairs).

Other Heritage and Rebuilt Tramway Lines

Stockholm Heritage Tramway (Constructed 1991) Wikipedia
Christchurch Heritage Tramway (Constructed 1995 and being extended) Temporarily closed by earthquake

Bendigo Tramways (Opened around 1892 and now run as a tourist attraction) Wikipedia

Melbourne Tramway Network - The only surviving original Australian City Tramway Network
- see City Circle Tram Service operated by vintage W-class Trams

Where is the project currently up to?

As at May 2011 the following decisions and investigations are either underway or are due to be commenced:-

  • Determining cost estimates for track construction. These will be in the range of $1 million per kilometre for track, including some volunteer input to construction;
  • Identification of construction funding requirements and timeframe. That is, identify how the project will impact Council's financial position over the construction timeframe;
  • Selection of ground power supply technology;
  • Identifying tram garaging location;
  • Determining and negotiating source of suitable vintage tramcars and timeframe to their service availability.

    Where to from here?

    As at May 2011, following the decision of Council on the 14th February to proceed to undertake a feasibility study on the proposed tramway, the following is planned:-

    • Community briefing and consultation on the CBD tramway proposal;
    • Preparation of the Business Plan;
    • Seeking input from relevant agencies - including the Traffic Committee, RTA and STA etc.;
    • Engaging Consultants and/or suitable engineering staff;
    • Assembling a Councillor and Community representative working group to closely monitor and oversee the delivery of the project;
    • Preparation of detailed track layout plans (including power supply arrangements) ready for construction.

    Like to help or get involved in the Manly CBD Tramway Proposal, or just be kept up to date (or meet people like you that do) ?

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    MM 2011