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Champagne Socialist
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http://www.theage.com.au/news/Natio...re-here-to-help/2005/04/12/1113251624835.html

Ground control to major tram: we're here to help
By Dan Silkstone
Transport reporter
April 13, 2005



The new, futuristic Yarra Trams control centre in South Melbourne. Tram controllers will be linked to the VicRoads network of traffic cameras.
Photo: Angela Wylie

Yarra Trams opened its state-of-the-art control centre in South Melbourne yesterday, predicting it would help make Melbourne's tram network the world's finest.

The centre - a year in the planning - cost $4 million, with the State Government contributing $2.5 million and Yarra Trams paying the balance.

Tram controllers will now be linked to the VicRoads network of traffic cameras all over Melbourne. Feeds from 300 cameras will be relayed to dozens of monitors and super-sized screens at the futuristic complex. Real-time information from across the network will be at controllers' fingertips, and the centre will have radio links to all trams in service.

"Some people have told me that NASA might want to use our new control room to track our next mission to outer space," Yarra Trams chief executive Hubert Guyot said yesterday. "But actually we have a bigger challenge right here at home, and we can use this wonderful new operations centre to help resolve it."

The challenge for tram operators is to co-exist with cars as traffic congestion worsens. On Monday, figures were released showing a large increase in collisions involving trams, most of them with cars.

"There are far too many accidents between cars and trams," parliamentary secretary for transport Carlo Carli said as he opened the centre. "That's where we are going to put our priorities, and this is going to help us with that."

For the first time, tram controllers will be able to change traffic lights to give priority to trams running behind schedule. The roadside cameras and transmitters on trams will be used to monitor progress.

If trams are running late, controllers will contact VicRoads, which can change traffic light sequences temporarily. To begin with tram operators can only view the feed from the VicRoads cameras, but within months they will be able to control them, panning and zooming to focus on problems.

A Yarra Trams spokesman said it was not improper for a private company to have control of such a system. "These are not surveillance-type cameras. They are for traffic management only," he said.

Mr Guyot said the new technology would improve response times to tram collisions and breakdowns, meaning that traffic could begin flowing again much sooner.

"Melbourne is one of the biggest tram networks in the world. We also want it to be the best," he said, predicting that the 500,000 passengers who use the network each day would notice the difference. "They will notice because they will arrive at their destination on time."

Mr Carli said giving traffic light priority to late-running trams would not be bad for motorists. "What improves traffic flow for trams improves traffic flow for cars," he said.
 

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Registered Yooser
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sounds great...very futuristic.

If I end up In Melborne after finishing school, I might try to find some work there while studying :D
 

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Looks pretty much the same as most other Traffic Control centres, although a little cramped.
What did they do before? Did VicRoads monitor trams?
 

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very nice :) - although the room could be either wider or have some natural light

the hermits controlling melbourne's trams, just like one big game of locomotion :D
 

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I've also heard rumours that they have no control whatsoever over traffic lights. In other words, for the time being it's a white elephant.
 

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PTnut
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"If trams are running late, controllers will contact VicRoads, which can change traffic light sequences temporarily."

The article states that MrPC. Yarra Trams is still at the whim of VicRoads.
 

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They could perhaps contact an operator on the switchboard at Kew. I doubt the answer will often stray outside the realm of "No" though.
 

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It's nothing new. Okay perhaps they have fancier technology, though it won't get them anything more. They would always have had supervisors working in depots tracking late running trams, by keeping contact with the drivers over radio I assume and advising them when to short shunt. I bet that's all that will happen, they'll advise the drivers to short shunt as usual. If they can get the trams priority at all, it'd be automatic so that trams get priority all the time, none of this stupid giving priority to late running trams (it never works).
 

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I hope that the control centre doesn't lose sight of the real priority - picking up and setting down passengers.

If passengers have to cross streets at lights to get a tram, controllers "playing trains" at some remote location are not going to notice the passengers having to cross roads illegally to ensure that they can get a tram. I see law abiding passengers stranded all the time at city intersections and suburban arterial road crossings as trams (a lot of the time on long service intervals) sail merrily through.

Just in the areas I travel through, I see older passengers at Moonee Ponds Junction, most of the Melville Road tram stops and the few tram stops in Flinders Street, stuck at the curb for about 2 - 3 minutes as trams stop to pick up the people who had missed the previous tram because of the light sequence.
 
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