Melbourne W class tram
W class trams were introduced to Melbourne in 1923 as a new standard design. They had a dual bogie layout and were characterised by a substantially timber frame supplanted by a steel under frame, a simple rugged design, and fine craftsmanship. The W Class was the mainstay of Melbourne's tramways system for 60 years. A total of 748 trams of all variants were built.
The W class is an icon to the city and recognised by the National Trust of Australia. It was not until the 1990s that the W Class was finally considered 'surplus' to rolling stock requirements. The remaining members of the class run regularly on the North Richmond to Prahran / St Kilda Beach route (Route:78/79). The zero-fare City Circle route also operates using the W class. The oldest W class trams remaining in service run this route, dating from 1936, others have been converted into mobile restaurants which cruise the suburbs in the evening.
Approximately 200 later model W class trams remain stored at various locations around Melbourne as part of a heritage fleet. The future use of these trams is unknown. A number of W-class trams have been sent overseas, including five that went to Seattle between 1978 and 1993, where they operated as Seattle's George Benson Waterfront Streetcar Line, between 1982 and 2005.
Since 1990, public outrage over the sale of these popular trams to overseas interest has forced an embargo to be placed on the sale of these trams to any overseas interest.
Picture added on 19 November 2008