Melbourne & Metropolitan Tramways Board X2 Class No 676

Tram No 676 is of particular heritage significance as it was the only single truck tramcar to remain in the ownership of the Melbourne & Metropolitan Tramways Board and its government-owned successors without ever being modified for non-passenger use or being disposed of to another tramway operator. It is also notable for being one of the few surviving tramcars that operated on the Footscray local tram routes that were closed in 1962.

M&MTB X2 class No 676 in Wallen Road, Hawthorn. Photograph courtesy Mike Ryan.M&MTB X2 class No 676 in Wallen Road, Hawthorn, November 2002.
Photograph courtesy Mike Ryan.

No 676 was built in 1930 at Preston Workshops of the Melbourne & Metropolitan Tramways Board, as part of an order of six tramcars in the X2 class. It was specifically built for service on the Footscray system, but also saw use on the Point Ormond line and across the Melbourne system as an all-night car.

The X2 class was a modified version of the X1 class, which itself was an M&MTB copy of the Birney Safety Car design represented in Melbourne by the X class trams. However, unlike a true Birney it is fitted with upholstered seats for improved passenger comfort. The X2 class can be also thought of a single truck version of the contemporary Y1 class design, as they share many of the same design features, such as the angled drivers’ windscreens, installed to minimise night-time internal reflection of the interior lights.

The onset of the Great Depression in 1929 was already having an impact on the M&MTB when this tram was built, as economies were made in its construction. Rather than utilising entirely new parts, significant use was made of components from scrapped tramcars, such as the 33 inch wheel and axle sets, and the Brill patented ‘Winner’ flip-over seat frames.

X2 class trams were also fitted with dead-man control equipment, which was removed during 1946-7. No 676 was further modified in 1952, when it was fitted with lined ceilings.

On closure of the Footscray tram routes in 1962, No 676 no longer saw use in regular passenger service. Instead, it was transferred to the driver training school at Hawthorn Depot, and used to teach drivers to operate tramcars with two electric motors, such as the scrubber and freight cars.

In 1978, it was fitted with multiple head and tail marker lights and repainted in the pre-1930s M&MTB chocolate and cream livery, which it had never previously borne, always having previously been in the standard green and cream livery. Subsequently, it was used intermittently on a number of different tourist-oriented services in addition to its use as a driver training tram.

This rather unique tramcar is owned by VicTrack on behalf of the Government and people of Victoria and is now on display as part of the collection of the Melbourne Tram Museum @ Hawthorn Depot.

Technical details

Motors: 2 x 50hp (MV 102)
Controller: GE K36JR
Truck: Brill 21E Special
Passengers: 32 (seated), 52 (standing)
Weight: 10.5 tons
Length: 32 feet 10 inches
Width: 8 feet 8 inches

Bibliography

Cross, N., Budd, D., and Wilson, R. (1993) Destination City (Fifth Edition), Transit Australia Publishing

Cross, N., Henderson, R. and Kings, K. (1981) Destination City (Fourth Edition), Australian Electric Traction Association