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Some of Melbourne’s W-Class trams have been garaged after asbestos was discovered in their flooring.

Testing of samples taken from three W-Class trams confirmed the presence of asbestos-containing material. Yarra Trams operates 13 W-Class trams in its fleet, built between 1923 and 1956.
It said the asbestos fibres were bound within the flooring material, which was covered and sealed.

The danger came to light during a routine inspection of the fleet, used on the popular City Circle tourist route. Spokesman Simon Murphy said it was aware that some of its older assets contained, or could contain, asbestos-containing materials.

“Safety is our priority and we took immediate action to ensure the wellbeing of our employees,” he said.
“We have received expert advice that the material is considered low risk.”

The City Circle tram outside Flinders Street Station. Picture: Tourism Victoria/Sarah Nicholson

Access to the three trams has been restricted as Yarra Trams works with expert advisers to manage the material. A program is currently underway to refurbish W-Class trams, with five already completed and on the network.
None of the trams that have been refurbished contain asbestos material.

RTBU assistant secretary Phil Altieri said he was concerned to learn about the problem.
“It is concerning when you think that hundreds of people have been walking on this stuff every day,” he said.
“It only takes one tear to happen in the flooring and you have a potential exposure.”
Last February it was discovered that the cement sheeting used in flooring of four new electrical tram substations contained asbestos imported from China.
Three modular electrical substations were built in 2015 in East Brighton, the city, Thornbury and West Brunswick.
All had flooring that contained white asbestos, which was banned in Australia in 2003.

Testing found a very small risk of exposure to the deadly substance.
Breathing in asbestos fibres can cause asbestosis, lung cancer, and mesothelioma.
The risk of contracting these diseases increases with the number of fibres inhaled and the risk of lung cancer from inhaling asbestos fibres is also greater if you smoke.
The symptoms of these diseases do not usually appear until about 20 to 30 years after the first exposure.

Proficiency Testing Australia (PTA) provides Australia’s National Asbestos Program which covers the counting of fibres on prepared slides and PTA Asbestos in Soils proficiency testing program.
For more information about the above two asbestos PT programs, please contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..


RESOURCE of Melbourne’s iconic W-Class trams grounded due to asbestos fears: ANDREW JEFFERSON, TRANSPORT REPORTER