M&MTB Y1 No 612
This tramcar was one of four of this class built in 1930 by the M&MTB at Preston Workshops. It is a double-ended version of the Peter Witt design of car originated in Cleveland in 1915. This style of car body was designed with the primary objective of reducing fare evasion, achieved by ensuring all passengers boarded via the front door and exited via the central door. This meant that every passenger had to pass a conductor located in the front half of the car. A side effect of this design is that it has the potential for one-man crews, with the driver being responsible for fare collection.
The original order was for fourteen cars, to be numbered from 610 to 623, but construction of the final ten cars of the order were cancelled due to the onset of the Depression and union opposition to the design. Further cars of the general Peter Witt layout were not to appear in Melbourne until 1973 with the prototype of the Z class, PCC No 1041.
The detail design of the car was based on the sole Y class car (No 469) built in 1927, but there were several changes. The most important of these was the use of larger wheels than standard to improve the ride quality and reduce noise. This required that the floor was on three different levels in order to provide sufficient wheel clearance.
The other major change was the use of angled windscreens, which improved night-time driver vision by removing reflections of internal lights. No 612 was updated in 1963, its original No 11 bogies with 33 inch wheels being replaced with standard No 15 bogies with 28 inch wheels as used in the W5 through W7 class tramcars.
Initially the Y1 cars were used on the Collins Street routes to East and West Preston, but they were transferred to the Toorak route in 1934. Two years later they were then moved to Camberwell Depot where they spent most of their life on the Burwood line together with all-night services. All the Y and Y1 cars were allocated to City (Batman Avenue)-Prahran services not long before their withdrawal in 1965. The withdrawal was the result of a reduction in car requirements after the closure of Hawthorn Depot and the associated route consolidation. This enabled these non-standard cars to be removed from traffic, and also pacified the union, which was concerned over the ability of the Y and Y1 cars to be used with one-man crews.
After withdrawal No 612 was stored in the former Hawthorn Depot along with its sister cars. During times of car shortages it was returned to traffic for brief periods. In 1982 it was allocated for driver training purposes with the training school located at Hawthorn, in which guise it continued until the closing of the school in the 1990s, when it was placed back into store. The redevelopment of Hawthorn Depot into condominiums and a small museum required the removal of No 612 to store at Preston Workshops.
On 8 March 2005 Y1 No 612 arrived at Bylands in the company of W2 646, both cars being placed on long term loan from the State Government.
Content copyright © Russell Jones 2001-6. Reproduced with permission.