Route 96 is a 14km-long tram route operated by Yarra Trams on the Melbourne’s tram network between Blyth Street, Brunswick East and Acland Street, St Kilda Beach in Victoria, Australia.

The route is being upgraded with an aim to meet the growing demand, and improve reliability and efficiency of Melbourne’s tram network, which is the world’s biggest tram network.

The upgrade project is part of a $1.1bn tram network programme initiated by the Victorian State Government to improve metropolitan and regional train services.

It is being developed and delivered by a partnership between Public Transport Victoria (PTV), VicRoads, Moreland City Council, and the City of Yarra.

The key objectives of the $72m project include an upgrade of tram stops to provide ground-level access, construction of new terminus stops, and improvement of intermodal connectivity.

Route 96 is expected to be the first route to run the new high-capacity low-floor trams on the network built by Bombardier and Dandenong.

Route 96 upgrade details

The project includes an upgrade of three pairs of tram stops to create easy access stops (EAS) along the northern stretch of Nicholson Street between Brunswick Road and Blyth Street.

The existing narrow road will be widened to six lanes to ease the traffic congestion and minimise accidents on the freeway.

New EAS tram stops are also being built along the four-lane road of Nicholson Street’s south section between Brunswick Road and Victoria Parade as well as at Clarendon St and Normanby Rd.

“The Route 96 upgrade project was announced by the Victorian Coalition Government in April 2012.”

The upgrade works also include construction of new level access stops that are spaced evenly to enhance the accessibility of the tram transport, upgrade of the terminus stops at Blyth Street, East Brunswick and Acland Street, St Kilda, and construction of additional car spaces at the tram stops.

High-capacity trams have been rolled out onto Route 96 to help increase passenger comfort as part of the upgrade project.

Route 96 upgrade construction

The Route 96 upgrade project was announced by the Victorian Coalition Government in April 2012.

The project is being executed in two phases where the first phase involves the development work such as geotechnical, engineering and technical investigations, traffic engineering analysis, concept and functional design development, cost assessments, and securing approvals.

Impact on pedestrians, cyclists, and other road users is also assessed in the first phase.

The second phase involves the construction of new platforms and stations, and renovation of the existing route.

A new terminus built by Yarra Trams’ operator Keolis Downer was opened in October 2016. The terminus features dual tracks and two new level-access platform stops.

Contractors involved

VicRoads is responsible for the design and development of the infrastructure upgrades at Nicholson Street, and securing in-principle approvals from the Moreland City Council and City of Yarra.

PTV is involved in developing intermodal connectivity, while Yarra Trams is developing level access stops and new terminus at Acland Street, St Kilda, Nicholson Street/Blyth Street, Brunswick, as well as at Clarendon Street/Whiteman Street.

Project benefits

The Route 96 upgrade project will provide passengers and pedestrians with an improved tram service.

EAS stops designed to comply with the Disability Discrimination Act 1992 will provide senior citizens and people with mobility impairments with easy access to the platform for boarding while improving safety.