All aboard city trams
HOBART’S original city trams would roll back to life under a proposal for a heritage tram service that would run along a picturesque stretch of the city’s waterfront.
The plan, which is before Hobart City Council, would see century-old city trams take tourists along a disused rail line from the Regatta Grounds to Cornelian Bay.
The proposed tourism attraction would also see the development of a heritage tramway museum, with memorabilia for visitors and space for a volunteer workforce to carry out tram restoration.
Proponents say Hobart’s original trams would be a tourism drawcard, especially for those disembarking from cruise ships or heading to any future development at Macquarie Point.
The trams would run along a 2.8km section of track, with a potential stop at the Royal Tasmanian Botanical Gardens.
The Hobart Tram Restoration and Museum Society is behind the plan and has presented a business case to Hobart City Council’s Infrastructure Committee.
Society vice-president John Kelly, the owner of North Hobart’s State Cinema, said the trams would be a unique experience.
“Tourists would love this,” he said.
He said the business case was solid because the initial capital cost would be modest as many of the main ingredients were ready to go.
He said the tracks had been assessed as fit for the purpose, and three original trams were already fully restored and waiting in the wings.
“This would use the restored trams that have sat idle for many years,” Mr Kelly said.
He said one of the restored trams, Tram 17, was an original doubledeck tram.
“That double decker is unique in all of Australia,” he said.
Society president Dr Richard Roffe said the society did not want to lock away the trams to tinker with them, but share them with the wider public.
“This is an opportunity for our city, the trams would be for general use,” Dr Roffe said. The society’s business case says the council owns “three beautifully restored trams, which need only a little extra work to make them fully operational”.
“It has so far invested about a million dollars in these trams, but they are currently locked away in a secure facility for all but two days of the year,” it says.
“The proposal will finally enable the trams to be showcased in the manner they deserve.”
Report author Ross Harris said the business case showed the service could be a financially sustainable operation based on a ticket price of about $10 an adult, with at least 10,800 adult passengers a year.
Mr Harris said the society had paid for a professional inspection of the relevant section of track, which had confirmed the line was in good condition and the correct gauge for the trams. The line would be leased from Tas Rail.
The society says the tram service would not only be a drawcard because of the waterfront scenery and destinations, but because of Hobart’s rich tram heritage.
Hobart had the first complete electric tramway system in the Southern Hemisphere, which was established in 1893 and closed in 1960.
Mr Kelly said the society was ready with the skilled volunteer labour to operate and maintain the trams and staff the museum.
At Hobart City Council’s Infrastructure Committee meeting, it was recommended the business plan be expertly reviewed and advice provided on the potential capital cost associated with the proposal.