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Outrage as Melbourne tourism icon stops in its tracks

October 22, 2018 Headline News No Comments Email Email

One of Melbourne’s best-known tourist and dining attractions has been temporarily halted, outraging owners, staff and thousands of patrons.

Colonial Tramcar Restaurant trams circle inner-city Melbourne, letting diners see the sights while eating. Tourists love the experience. The trams have been suddenly brought to a halt from service until they comply with Yarra Tram safety requirements and fix what Yarra Trams says are “badly weathered” underlying structures.

Until then, they will temporarily operate as a “stationary dining experience”, the Melbourne Age reported.

The company is not taking it lying down and wants the Victorian Government to override the decision.

Colonial Tramcar Restaurant chief executive Paul O’Brien issued the following statement yesterday:

“Melbourne’s award-winning Colonial Tramcar Restaurant is seeking urgent intervention from the Victorian Government to help resolve a bureaucratic deadlock with Yarra Trams and get a beloved tourist attraction back on track.

“We have been told we need to upgrade our trams – and we are willing to invest the millions of dollars required to do so – but we’ve been given an impossible deadline given that the Bendigo Workshops are unable to schedule us into their W8 program until 2020. [W8 is a class of tram. Ed.]

“We are urgently seeking a solution that doesn’t see 60 employees immediately forced out of work and the livelihoods of dozens of local Victorian suppliers put at risk, along with the special occasion plans of tens of thousands of tourists and Victorian families.

“We reject suggestions from Yarra Trams that our iconic rolling restaurants are not safe. Yarra Trams has inspected our trams weekly since 2010 and up until two weeks had given us the all clear to run. How we can go from safe one week to unsafe the next? It is perplexing to say the least.

“We agree that the safety of our employees and customers is the priority which is why we have invested millions of dollars and undergo weekly safety checks. After 35 years and more than 3 million customers, we have not had any event which resulted in a serious injury to an employee or customer.

“The professionalism of our employees and our commitment to safety has resulted in our business winning numerous Victorian Government and Federal Government tourism awards.

“More than a third of our customers are international visitors who stay in Melbourne hotels, eat at Melbourne restaurants, and shop in Melbourne stores. This decision doesn’t just impact on the 60 families of our employees, but will also affect other businesses. None of these consequences have been considered by Yarra Trams.

“We are calling on Minister Allan [Victoria’s Minister for Public Transport, Jacinta Allan] to urgently intervene and set a deadline which will actually be possible to meet so we can convert our trams to the department’s new standards and save the jobs of more than 60 Victorians and an iconic Melbourne tourism attraction.”

Written by Peter Needham

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