Melbourne tram manufacturer calls for safer technology

Melbourne tram manufacturer calls for safer technology
E Class Tram in Melbourne, 2016. Photo by Hugh Llewelyn via Wikimedia Commons

Bombardier, Melbourne’s E-Class tram manufacturer is currently discussing with the Victorian government to implement newer and safer technology to the tram network. The news comes recently as tram collisions with cars and pedestrians reaches its highest number in the past 5 years.

A tram obstacle detection system developed by Bombardier has been implemented in these four European cities:

  • Frankfurt
  • Berlin
  • Marseille
  • Cologne

The system relays information from outside and alerts drivers before a potential collision and has dropped the collision rates of these countries significantly. Other Europeans cities such as Brussels, Duisburg and Zurich are also expected to implement the safety technology next year.

Data from Transport Safety Victory showcased that the number of tram collisions with road vehicles and people is at its highest since the past 5 years. The president of Bombardier, Laurent Troger, stated that he has been speaking with the Victorian government to help reduce these numbers.

The new technology works by having a stereo camera that detects and evaluates potential obstacles that are in the path of the vehicle. If it is likely that a collision will occur, an acoustic warning signal is relayed to the driver to let them know of the upcoming risk.

It is very easy to implement and can be done on new and existing vehicles. Mr Troger stated that it is his recommendation to implement them into upcoming models to ensure the safety of the public. He also mentioned that this technology is not new and experimental as it has been quite successful in other cities.

A spokeswoman for the Victorian government said that they were discussing with the company about implementing the new systems but the trials of the software proved to be different from the success of the European cities. Due to Melbourne’s trams and road conditions, the software wasn’t as effective compared to the light rails in Europe.

She also mentioned that more than 70 percent of the tram and vehicle collisions are from vehicles merging onto tram tracks.

According to the budget papers of the last financial year, the budget for public spending on tram services was meant to be around $200 million. However due to a roll out of a new seven year contract, the expenditure has doubled to $400 million for 2017 and 2018.

The new contract also includes stricter performance targets to ensure that the trams are punctual. Bombardier has a factory in Dandenong that builds Melbourne’s trams. They also won a $1 billion contract with CPB to create new high capacity signalling for the Cranbourne/Pakenham and Sunbury lines. These new lines are expected to be open in 2025.