Melbourne tram drivers invited to compete in European championships for the first time

Melbourne is considered the tram capital of Australia, but how does the city stack up on the international stage?

Key points:

  • Two Melbourne tram drivers will soon travel to Leipzig, Germany to compete in the European Tram Drivers Championship
  • It’s the first time a non-European team has been invited in the competition’s 10-year history
  • Team coach Wayne Speers said the drivers would compete in events that test stopping and acceleration

A Melbourne tram-driving team is headed to Germany to find out.

Yarra Tram drivers Amanda Paul and Frendy Lim will compete against 24 teams in the European Tram Drivers Championship starting May 21.

It’s the first time a non-European team has joined the competition in its 10-year history.

Malvern Depot team manager Wayne Speers will be “team coach”, leading the pair as they navigate the various events on Leipzig’s historic 150-year-old network.

The skills tested include “precision stopping” and “smooth acceleration” in trams similar to Melbourne’s C-Class and E-Class.

“[It will be a test] of the drivers capability, their ability to drive a tram and to control that vehicle within certain constraints,” Mr Speers told ABC Radio Melbourne.

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However, most will be keeping an eye out for “tram bowling”, a hotly anticipated event similar to 10-pin bowling — but with a tram.

“We’ve got some pins lined up, there’s a big inflatable ball, and along comes a tram,” he said.

“It’s been a staple of their competition for a number of years … and we’ve been executing them up at our training centre today.”

‘I love my job’

Team coach Wayne Speers and drivers Amanda Paul and Frendy Lim will travel to Germany for the championships.(Supplied: Yarra Trams)

Amanda Paul, who has driven trams for nearly six years, is mostly looking forward to meeting tram-loving peers abroad.

“I don’t often put myself forward for things like this, but I love my job,” she said.

“The challenges we’ll be taking part in look really interesting, and should be an interesting way of testing my skills.”

While the duo will be up against stiff competition, Mr Speers is confident his team will do the country proud.

He said the Melbourne team had what it took to beat the 2019 championship team from Brussels, as well as teams from other famous tram cities such as Basel in Switzerland, Budapest in Hungary, and Vienna in Austria.

“Our experience is phenomenal and our iconic trams are world famous,” he said.

Tram drivers Amanda Paul and Frendy Lim can’t wait to show off their skills in Europe.(Supplied: Yarra Trams)

While there is no winning prize other than a trophy and the glory, Mr Speers hopes his team’s triumph will be rewarded with a tram competition on Australian shores.

“Certainly we can have a word to the Premier [Daniel Andrews] when we bring back that title,” Mr Speers said with a laugh.

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Posted 11m ago11 minutes agoTue 10 May 2022 at 9:51pm, updated 10m ago10 minutes agoTue 10 May 2022 at 9:52pm

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