By Jackson Russell
The Tramway Museum Society of Victoria is concerned it could lose the world’s only complete collection of W-Class trams if it’s unable to renegotiate an almost 25-year old agreement with the State Government.
The agreement, signed in 1995, loaned four of the society’s tramcars in exchange four W-Class trams and allowed the society to run trams on Melbourne’s tram network to raise money.
The society keeps the trams on display, along with the other 49 in its collection, at the Tramway Heritage Centre in Bylands.
The society attempted to reach out to the government and established contact with VicTrack to renegotiate the agreement but were told VicTrack was happy to let it lapse.
Tramway Museum Society of Victoria marketing manager William Fedor said it had taken two years just to get to that point.
“We’ve been through our third person at VicTrack to talk about it and we’re now dealing with one of the group managers and the CEO,” he said.
“Then they finally said they’re not going to renegotiate the contract. They’ll take our trams from the Melbourne Tram Museum in Hawthorn and take five trams off of us which were part of the agreement.
“This is the only place where you can see a complete collection of W Class trams, every single one. There are 13 different types of W Class trams and there’s one more that we would like.
“We’d like the trams we have at Hawthorn to stay at Hawthorn because it’ll benefit their collection at the same time.”
Since private operators took over Melbourne’s tram network and upgraded the overheads, the society hasn’t been able to run their trams on Melbourne’s network.
“We’ve lost the much-needed revenue and we’re at the stage where we need our original shed repaired, it’s about to fall down and that’s $300,000 to re-erect that,” Fedor said.
Mr Fedor said if VicTrack took away the four W-Class trams in the society’s collection, there might never be another complete collection in the world.
“Because the museum’s really fortunate enough to have only types of W-Class trams so if you take that away, no one will be able to complete that collection ever again,” he said.
There is a chance the society can get the trams back as part of the State Government’s Retired Trams Strategy, which gives schools, community groups and not-for-profit organisations a chance to acquire the iconic W-Class trams.
VicTrack did not repond for comment before the Review’s print deadline.