Posted by: travelrat | March 14, 2012

The Glenelg Tram: 2006

Old and New

In 2003, I rode in one of the 75-year-old cars on the Glenelg Tramway, in Adelaide. This was the sole remnant of what was once the city’s extensive tram system. But, when I visited again in 2006, I heard that the system was to be extended, at a cost of AUD83.9 million. Modern trams would replace the old ‘rattlers’. A few of the old veterans would be retained, but would only be brought out on high days and holidays. And, the line would be extended from Victoria Square to the railway station on North Terrace.

The new fleet would, eventually, consist of eleven German-built Bombardier ‘Flexity Classic’ trams, with seats for 70 passengers

The first three had already been delivered, and the existing track upgraded to accommodate them. But, although it was promised that the full air-conditioning would ‘ … meet Adelaide’s climatic conditions’ … it didn’t! For two days, during an unprecedented heatwave, they had to be temporarily withdrawn, because the air-conditioning proved not to be up to it!

But, the old Australian-built trams were still running, and this, of course, was not an issue, because they had no air-conditioning.

When the weather cooled down a bit, I was able to photograph a new tram operating in conjunction with an old one … and finally get a chance to ride a Bombardier, I had to admit that it was quieter, and the announcements about which station was next were useful. But, they aren’t really any more comfortable … the seats on the Bombardier are made of thinly padded plastic, and harder than the old trams. But, it can be lived with. It isn’t far to Glenelg.

The driver would probably disagree with me in the matter of comfort, because he, or she, gets to sit down to drive, unlike the old ones, which are operated in the standard standing position.

The mile-long extension to the railway station had still to be built, but work is expected to start within the next year, be complete by the following. It will run down the central boulevard of King William Street, where the central island is now … and where the old trams used to run!

In the longer term, plans are being considered for a new tramway down the Port Road to Port Adelaide. I think, at the moment, all that has been agreed is that it’s a good idea … but, if any further progress has been made, I’ll let you know shortly.



  1. Hi Keith,
    I haven’t been down to Adelaide in years, I imagine there would be a lot of changes to the place. It is a lovely place to go though.

    I don’t think a lot of places o/seas realize what our climate can be like, unless you have actually spent some time here or lived here. This has happened before with things that have been brought o/seas, especially large machinery for factories etc. it has been found that they just can’t take the heat, especially inside work sheds.

  2. Well, that particular week, the temperatures were exceptional for Adelaide (I think records were broken?) …

    And, in some respects, Adelaide hasn’t changed much … the basic concept remains true to ‘Light’s Vision’; lots of inviolate green space completely encircling the CBD. But, I am hearing rumours that Balfour’s Pie Cart is no more. God save us; they’ll be dismantling Sydney Harbour Bridge next! 🙂

  3. I’m sorry they got rid of the trams in Sydney. They are so nice to look at and provide a break from all the hustle and bustle. I am a big fan of trams – I would ride them all day if I could. Glad some of the old classics are still running in Adelaide!

    • I was in Adelaide yesterday, but, although I saw frequent trams, I didn’t see any of the old Pengelly ‘Rattlers’. They have, though, extended the line along North Terrace, and along the Port Road as far as an entertainments centre.

      I wondoer if they’re still planning to get as far as Port Adelaide?

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