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(AUS)Dirty tracks turning Yarra Trams into death traps

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From the Herald Sun:

Dirty tracks turning Yarra Trams into death traps

Ashley Gardiner

From: Herald Sun

June 17, 2011 12:00AM



YARRA Trams has issued a safety alert after its vehicles have become electrically "live" due to dirty tracks.


Six incidents of trams becoming "insulated" have occurred in the past month, according to the Rail, Tram and Bus Union.


Yarra Trams disagrees and says there have been only three incidents, all inside depots.


But RTBU tram secretary Phil Altieri maintained there had been three cases on the network in addition to the depot incidents.


People getting on or off a tram that was insulated were at risk, he said.


"It could kill someone," Mr Altieri said.


A tram becomes insulated if the tram's wheels lose contact with the tracks and break the circuit, posing a risk of electric shock.


Mr Altieri said 31 incidents of tram slides were also recorded during a two-week period up to June 6.


These occur when dirty tracks have become slippery and the tram fails to stop.


Dirty tracks can cause trams to become insulated, as it blocks contact between the wheel and track.


"The tracks aren't being kept clean enough. Yarra Trams should be doing more," Mr Altieri said.


Off-road tracks had not been cleaned due to a truck that had been defective since March 2009, he said.


According to the union, 58 of Melbourne's 486 trams were out of service, many suffering wheel damage after sliding.


Yarra Trams spokesman Colin Tyrus said the target for fleet availability was being exceeded during peak periods.


"There has been an increase in slippery tracks associated with autumn leaf fall. A wet summer this year created more foliage," Mr Tyrus said.


"During wet conditions, and during autumn, tram drivers adapt their driving to suit the conditions, which includes the use of sand to prevent slippage."


Mr Tyrus said that off-road areas, where tracks were held in place by ballast rocks, had not required cleaning until recently.


He said no staff members had been injured during the cases of insulated trams.


Drivers are instructed to disconnect the power when they occur to prevent any incidents.



I had wondered where the truck had gone to. This sort of thing happens a bit down the South Melbourne terminus. All the sand ends up all over the track and the result is a 600v tram. But in a whole insulated trams are very rare and only occur in full derailments.

Sliding trams happens a bit. You know about it when it happens!

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Thats weird , so i guess the gap inbetween the tracks needs a cleaning?


That and the top needs a clean. From my observations there seems to be quite a bit laying on the flange side of the rail. They used to have a dedicated tram for cleaning duties before they went to the truck.

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