Old hub for railway in Wodonga floated as potential home for Melbourne tram being given away by the Victorian government

Lighting up Junction Place: A digitally altered image of how a tram might look in Wodonga's former railway heartland if it was relocated from Melbourne.
Lighting up Junction Place: A digitally altered image of how a tram might look in Wodonga's former railway heartland if it was relocated from Melbourne.

A WODONGA councillor has backed the possibility of an old Melbourne tram being installed in Junction Place.

Kat Bennett reckons the former railway land in the heart of Wodonga could be suitable for one of 134 W-Class trams being given away by the Victorian government.

She raised the idea of the city acquiring a tram via her Facebook page and responded with enthusiasm when Wodonga father Jeff Ryan nominated Junction Place.

“How cool would that be!” Cr Bennett posted.

“I’m going to forward it to the developer of junction (sic).”

Mr Ryan told The Border Mail when he moved to Wodonga in 1982 there was an Ollie’s Trolley restaurant which was popular and something similar could be done with a tram.

Wodonga Ratepayers’ Association president Ian Deegan also cited Ollie’s, which was located near St Augustine’s Primary School in High Street.

“We used to have Ollie’s Trolleys, they sold hamburgers and they were very popular, so maybe we could have a new Ollie’s,” Mr Deegan said.

But Station 73 boss Clinton Williams, whose company is developing Junction Place, dismissed installing a Melbourne tram on the site that includes Wodonga’s old train station.

“Realistically we really want trains, it was never a tram spot,” Mr Williams said.

“We need to stick with the heritage of what the place was all about.

“A tram I wouldn’t think is what we would want to create at a railway station.”

Mr Williams said it would cost $80,000 to buy an old train carriage and $45,000 to move it.

“The old ones are pretty hard to change inside and make them look part of a building,” he said.

So Mr Williams is planning to construct four replicas of Spirit of Progress-era carriages and have them used for restaurants or shops.

VicTrack, which is overseeing the dispersal of the trams on behalf of the government, has flagged likely transport and asbestos costs for the vehicles.

It estimates recipients could expect to pay $2000 to $10,000 for haulage with crane hire also required at collection and drop-off.

W-Class in Wodonga: A digitally altered image of how an old Melbourne tram might appear on pavement rail markings in Junction Place which represents where trains once travelled.

W-Class in Wodonga: A digitally altered image of how an old Melbourne tram might appear on pavement rail markings in Junction Place which represents where trains once travelled.

An audit of the trams has found they contain asbestos in their floors and electrical control systems and its removal could range from $2100 to $8800.

Parklands Albury Wodonga chairman Daryl Betteridge showed interest in placing a tram along the High Country Rail Trail as a shelter.

But his zest fell after learning of the costs, noting Parklands would need grants to cover the moving expenses.

Formal expressions of interest open on May 28 and close on July 6.

Applicants wanting to provide a public use will be preferred over private bidders.