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“Spy tram” stalks Melbourne tram network

Yarra Trams has been using a specially equipped tram, dubbed “spy tram”, to monitor Melbourne’s tram network at night. Data collected by the spy tram will inform maintenance and infrastructure work.

Spy tram collects data on the condition of key tram infrastructure assets, such as tracks, wires and tram stops. It has so far travelled 500 kilometres to survey the network, according to a government statement released this weekend.

Spy tram is a B-Class tram, using the latest data capture technology from Europe, with state-of-the-art 3D lasers, sensors and cameras attached to the top, bottom, front, back, and sides. The data is mapped using GPS.

“Every tiny detail, from the smoothness of the rail, to where foliage like weeds are coming up, is captured and analysed,” according to statement.

With the levels of congestion rising in Melbourne, infrastructure upgrades are being prioritised so to limit disruption and ensure reliable journeys.

“We have the largest tram network in the world and we’re using the latest technology to keep it running safely and get passengers where they need to go,” minister for public transport Melissa Horne said.

“More than $81 million is invested in maintaining and upgrading our iconic tram network every year – the Spy Tram plays an important role in making sure we know what needs to be fixed and upgraded.”

Yarra Trams has been using spy tram since 2010, alongside conducting physical inspections to identify and assist in the prioritisation of maintenance and renewal works for network infrastructure.

Since 2017, these surveys have been conducted twice a year. There have been 25 significant maintenance and renewal works across the network since 2018.

As more data is collected, Yarra Trams will be able to better prioritise works for the next five to 15 years, according to the government’s press release.

“The team at Yarra Trams work around the clock to ensure our network is in the best condition it can be, to keep Melbourne moving,” Yarra Trams CEO Nicolas Gindt said.

“We are using ‘spy tram’ data to help prioritise upcoming works and better plan renewals along every route.”