Melbourne's development by tram: the 1 & 8

Tram routes 1 and 8 run in a combined tram corridor from Brunswick East through to the Arts Centre stop on St Kilda Road. They both originate in different places: the 1 at Bell Street and Nicholson Street, the 8 at the intersection of Moreland Road and Sydney Road and terminate in different places as well, South Melbourne Beach and Toorak Road respectively.

To keep things simple, the scope of this article is just the north-of-the-city section of both routes. Proposals are afoot to reconfigure and renumber these two tram routes but suffice it to say, despite the reorganisation, Lygon Street - which is our focus today - will not fundamentally change, it will still have 2 tram routes running up and down the street.

Like other parts of Brunswick and Coburg, development is highly correlated with the tram corridors with Lygon Street south of Moreland Road where all current projects on the Urban Melbourne project database are located. The most recent planning maps for Moreland show the development-friendly C1Z running up both sides of Lygon Street from the City of Melbourne boundary to Moreland Road and beyond that to the end of route 1 on Bell Street, the General Residential Zone becomes dominant.

On paper, the section of both routes where they are combined provide quite possibly the best tram services in Melbourne with a tram every 10 minutes at night (generally after 9pm), at all other times, a very high frequency service is offered. These two routes pass through a small section of the City of Yarra in the north, however the properties facing and surrounding the tram corridor are overwhelmingly the restrictive Neighbourhood Residential Zone with two small C1Z and 1 MUZ exceptions around the intersection of Pigdon Street and Lygon Street.

The numbers

Aspect Number of projects Number of dwellings
Residential projects: Planning Assessment 2 26
Residential projects: Approved 8 305
Residential projects: Registration and Sales 3 229
Residential projects: Under Construction 5 369
TOTAL 18 929

* Residential projects includes mixed-use projects.

Linear route 1 map. Yarra Trams

Linear route 8 map. Yarra Trams


Tram routes 1 and 8 (combined statistics) Further information
Timetabled weekday peak frequency 3-4 minutes (18 trams per hour)*
Timetabled weekday off-peak frequency 6 minutes (10 trams per hour)*
Timetabled weekend daytime frequency 6 minutes (10 trams per hour)*
Timetabled night-time frequency 10 minutes (6 trams per hour); 15 minutes/4 trams per hour (Sunday nights)*
Raised-platform stops?

Mainly in the City of Melbourne. Limited northside. Some southside.

Where do the trams go to sleep? Brunswick Depot (Sydney Road, Brunswick), Malvern Depot (Coldblo Road, Armadale) route 1: Brunswick, route 8: Brunswick and Malvern.
Primary tram class that operates on the route. B2 (high-floor, articulated), D1 (3-section, low-floor, articulated), Z3 (high-floor)
Annual patronage and rank Route 8: 9,100,000 trips annually (8th busiest), Route 1: 7,800,000trips annually (10th busiest). Source

* The frequency statistics represent the section of both routes where they are combined: Moreland Road to Arts Centre.

Lygon Street

Lygon Street and Brunswick Road is an area on the combined section of routes 1 and 8 that is of particular interest: on three of the four corners of the intersection there are projects present. One is under construction, one approved and another at sales with another project currently being assessed by Moreland a little further up the street.

The highest concentration of projects on Lygon Street lie between Glenlyon Road and Blyth Street: three under construction, four approved and one at sales.

Rima - 22 Lygon Street, Brunswick East

Between Blyth and Albion Streets a further five projects exist: one under construction, one at sales, one being assessed and two approved.

At present we don't register any projects north of Albion Street however this area has not been bereft of any new high-density development - the street changes name to Holmes Street north of Albion and then becomes Nicholson Street north of Moreland Road - and it's this intersection where the route 1 and 8 tram routes split that buildings like The Nicholson, one of the largest modular construction projects in recent times, exist.

Future directions

As mentioned in the route 19 article, Moreland Road is playing an interesting role if you look at the 'helicopter' perspective on Moreland's published planning maps. At Melville and Moreland (route 55), Sydney and Moreland (route 19/route 8) and Lygon and Moreland (routes 1 and 8), the more development-friendly zones bulge around each intersection which points to the possibility that smaller-scale activity centres will be created over time.

Perhaps this is an opportunity for Moreland to encourage more commercial/employment uses in these areas rather than allow residential development to make a foothold?

Moreland Road as it stands: a stitch of current published City of Moreland zone maps

This east-west corridor is currently served by the 510 bus from Essendon Station via Fletcher Street/Buckley Street - Pascoe Vale Road - Moreland Road - Normanby Avenue and onwards to Ivanhoe (20 minute frequencies at best, however). The route 8 tram duplicates this route between Sydney Road and Holmes Street/Nicholson Street (the extension of Lygon Street).

The Victorian Government's level crossing removal programme will see grade separation at Moreland Road and the Upfield train line - right next to the Brunswick depot (and terminus of the route 8) - is it time to study the creation of a proper cross-town tram route on Moreland Road?

As I've written previously, the distance from Moreland Station (Coburg) to Essendon is approximately 4km and from the Nicholson Street/Holmes Street and Moreland Road intersection to St. Georges Road intersection is approximately 1.5 km. Approximately 5.5km of new track track in the Moreland Road corridor would link all the tram routes in Melbourne's north.

In assessing the merits of this east-west route (memo: Infrastructure Victoria/Public Transport Victoria/Yarra Trams and all those who would leap to "a bus will suffice"), it would be wise to take a serious look at the operational benefits in relation to the depots.

Laying this new tram track in Pascoe Vale Road/Moreland Road/Normanby Ave would then allow new cross-town services to operate, linking all the radial tram lines (along with three rail lines) and providing incentives to intensify commercial/office/employment development in the corridor but also provide increased operational flexibility for Yarra Trams when it comes to making good use of its existing depot facilities in the north.

Essendon is constrained for space, Brunswick and Preston depots less so to varying degrees. Moreland Road tram tracks would allow Yarra trams to increase the tram storage capacity at Brunswick and Preston depots to cater for a larger (and individual longer) tram fleet and use those depots for routes that currently operate out of space-constrained Essendon.



1 comment

pdoff's picture

Excellent suggestion re the Moreland Rd cross town tram route Alastair. Not only are population densities increasing around this corridor, but the middle northern suburbs are already a renowned hotspot for motor vehicle congestion (at least that's the way I recall a traffic analysis and article published on this about 1-2 years ago) particularly for traffic heading east-west. So let's give residents an alternative.

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