Melbourne tram route 86

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Route 86
Melbourne tram route 86 icon.svg
B22026 New Yarra Trams Livery.JPG
OperatorYarra Trams
VehicleE class
Night-timeFriday & Saturday
StartBundoora RMIT
Clifton Hill
East Melbourne
Bourke Street
EndWaterfront City
Length22.2 kilometres
TimetableRoute 86 timetable
MapRoute 86 map
← Route 82  {{{system_nav}}}  Route 96 →

Melbourne tram route 86 is operated by Yarra Trams on the Melbourne tram network from Bundoora RMIT to Waterfront City. The 22.2-kilometre (13.8 mi) route is operated out of Preston depot with E class trams.


The line had its beginnings as two separate cable tram lines. The first was part of Melbourne’s main cable tram system, built by the Melbourne Tramway & Omnibus Company (MTOC) in the late 1880s. This system included the 'Collingwood & Clifton Hill' line, which operated along Bourke Street in the city, then Gertrude Street, Smith Street, and Queens Parade to a terminus just short of the Northcote Bridge (Merri Creek Bridge), which opened on 10 August 1887.[1][2][3]

A second line, which was a continuation of this line, was built privately by a group of Northcote land speculators, which ran from near the MTOC terminus, across the bridge, up High Street, to Miller Street/Dundas Street, the boundary between Northcote and Preston, which opened on opened on 18 February 1890.[4] Since the lines were built to different standards, passengers had to physically walk between the two termini at the Northcote Bridge to get from Northcote to the city. The line was not as successful as they had hoped, and it closed down and reopened twice before Northcote City Council bought it in 1901 and leased out its operation, and at the end of the lease in 1916 the council took over operation for a short time.

At the end of the MTOC lease in 1916, the State Government took control of their system, vesting them into the Melbourne & Metropolitan Tramways Board (MMTB) on 1 November 1919, which then absorbed all the municipal systems, including the Northcote cable car line, on 20 February 1920.[4]

An electric tram system that extended beyond the cable tram lines in Preston had been started by the municipal Fitzroy, Northcote & Preston Tramways Trust but it wasn't until after its takeover by the MMTB that services first ran, on 1 April 1920. This system included a line along High Street Preston from Tyler Street south to the Dundas Street cable tram terminus, then west along Miller Street and south along St George’s Road to the terminus of the North Fitzroy cable tram line.[5] This network was orphaned from the rest of the electric network until 24 March 1925 when a line west along Holden Street connected it to the CBD via Lygon Street.[6]

At the same time, the two cable lines were connected into one line by the MMTB, creating the longest line in the city, opening 8 March 1925.[4] It operated until 26 October 1940, when the Bourke Street cable lines were abandoned in favour of double decker buses.[7] The Bourke Street cable lines were the last cable trams to operate in Melbourne.

The MMTB, unhappy with the performance of the buses, decided to rebuild the lines as electric tram services when the buses became life expired. It opened as route 88 (predecessor to the modern 86) on 26 June 1955, with Brunswick East starting operating on 6 May 1956.[8][9]

On 18 May 1983, the suburban terminus was extended 1.2 kilometres from Tyler Street to Boldrewood Parade,[10][11] then to 2.1 kilometres to La Trobe University on 10 January 1985 (when it was renumbered as route 87), 2.9 kilometres to McLeans Road on 26 April 1987, when it was renumbered route 86[12][13][14][15] and to the current terminus at McKimmies Road on 12 October 1995.[16][17] This final extension was funded as part of the Federal Government's Building Better Cities program.[18]

As part of the Docklands redevelopment project, La Trobe Street was extended west over the Spencer Street railyards on 26 March 2000, and with this extension route 86 was extended north along Spencer Street and then west along La Trobe Street to Docklands Stadium.[19] [20] On 27 July 2008 route 30 and route 86 swapped termini, with route 30 terminating in Harbour Esplanade at Central Pier, and route 86 being extended to Waterfront City.[21][22]

In August 2008 route 86 was the first route to see tram based testing of the Myki ticketing system, using special services not open to normal fare-paying passengers.[23]

A project to improve access through platform stops, perform track and overhead renewal and improve speed and reliability on a 6.8 km section of route 86, along High Street and Plenty Road, between Westgarth Street, Westgarth and Albert Street, Reservoir commenced in 2011.[24][25]

In January 2016, route 86 began operating through the night on Fridays and Saturdays as part of the Night Network. [26]

In November 2016, E class trams commenced operation on the route.[27][28] These trams are beneficial on the route which has the highest amount of superstop platforms of any route in Melbourne.[29]

Melbourne tram route 86 evolution
Dates Route Notes
2 May 1954 - 28 February 1983 Footscray to West Maribyrnong
1 March 1983 - 25 April 1987 Unallocated
26 April 1987 - 11 October 1995 Bundoora (McLeans Road) to City (Spencer Street) The first time 86 was used to designate the route that it currently takes today (renumbered from 87)
12 October 1995 - 25 March 2000 Bundoora RMIT to City (Spencer Street)
26 March 2000 - 21 May 2005 Bundoora RMIT to Central Pier
22 May 2005 - 20 November 2005 Bundoora RMIT to Docklands Drive - New Quay The route was temporarily extended as a substitute to a truncated route 48
21 November 2005 - 26 July 2008 Bundoora RMIT to Central Pier
27 July 2008 - present Bundoora RMIT to Waterfront City


Two route 86 trams pass each other on Plenty Road, Preston

Route 86 runs from Bundoora RMIT, travelling south on Plenty Road through the suburbs of Bundoora, Reservoir and Preston, passing La Trobe University.

Plenty Road ends in Preston at Dundas Street and High Street, route 86 turns slightly into High Street and continues south through Thornbury and Northcote. It then crosses Merri Creek, continuing along Queens Parade Clifton Hill, heading south-west, turning south into Smith Street passing between Fitzroy and Collingwood.

Just before the end of Smith Street it turns west into Gertrude Street, Fitzroy, and south into Nicholson Street, Carlton, past the Royal Exhibition Building.

It enters the CBD on Spring Street turning west into Bourke Street at Parliament House, travels through the Bourke Street Mall and turns north into Spencer Street, passing Southern Cross station, it turns west at La Trobe Street, passing over the Spencer Street rail yards into Docklands, it travels north briefly on Harbour Esplanade before turning west into Docklands Drive, where it terminates at Waterfront City.


Route 86 is operated out of Preston depot with E class trams.[30] From 1990 until 2016 it was operated out of East Preston depot with B class trams.[31]

Route map[edit]

Route 86
Bundoora RMIT - Waterfront City
via Preston, Northcote, Collingwood & City
Free tram zone covers stops D11 to 11, fare zone 1 applies from stop 12 to 71.
Bundoora RMIT
Plenty Road
McKimmies Road
Bus interchange
562, 564, 566
570, 572, 573
Janefield Drive
Bus interchange 572
Taunton Drive
Greenhills Road
Bundoora Square Shopping Centre
Settlement Road
Grimshaw Street
Bus interchange 566, 902
Mount Cooper Drive
Greenwood Drive
Bus interchange 566
Bundoora MFB
Bundoora Park
La Trobe University
Bus interchange
250, 301, 350, 548
550, 551, 561, 566
Plenty Road
Preston Cemetery
Browning Street
Plenty Road
Reservoir High School
Loddon Avenue
Boldrewood Parade
Bus interchange 556, 566, 567
Wilkinson Street
Ethel Grove
Plenty Road
Tyler Street
Bus interchange 555, 562, 566, 567
Zone 1+2
Zone 1
Wood Street
Sylvester Grove
Murray Road
Bus interchange 527, 903
Gower Street
Gower Street
East Preston tram depot (closed)
Bell Street
Bus interchange 513
Osborne Grove
Raglan Street
Dundas Street
Bus interchange 552, 553
Miller Street
No Service
High Street
Collins Street
Mainline rail interchange Thornbury station
Mansfield Street
Gooch Street
Normanby Avenue
Bus interchange 510
Woolton Avenue
Darebin Road
Mainline rail interchange Croxton station
High Street
Dennis Street
Bent Street
Arthurton Road
Bus interchange 508
Mainline rail interchange Northcote station
Mitchell Street
Bus interchange 567
Northcote Town Hall
Bus interchange 510
Clarke Street
Mainline rail interchange Westgarth station
Westgarth Street
Bus interchange 250, 251, 506
Walker Street
Mainline rail interchange Clifton Hill station
Clifton Hill
Queens Parade
Clifton Hill Interchange
Bus interchange 246, 250, 251, 504
Michael Street
Bus interchange 504, 546
Wellington Street
Smith Street
Bus interchange 546
Smith Street
Alexandra Parade
Keele Street
Johnston Street
Bus interchange 200, 202, 207
Hodgson Street
Charles Street
Peel Street
Gertrude Street
Napier Street
Brunswick Street
Tram 11
Brunswick Street
Nicholson Street
Tram 96
Melbourne Museum
Zone 1
Free Tram Zone
Victoria Parade
Tram 30
Parliament station
Mainline rail interchange
Parliament station
City Loop suburban lines
Spring Street
Tram City Circle
Spring Street
Russell Street
Bus interchange 605
Swanston Street
Tram 1, 3, 5, 6, 16, 64, 67, 72
Swanston Street
Tram interchange 1, 3, 5, 6, 16, 64, 67, 72
Bourke Street Mall
Tram interchange 19, 57, 59
Elizabeth Street
Tram 19, 57, 59
Queen Street
William Street
William Street
Tram 58
Southern Cross station
Spencer Street
Tram 96
Mainline rail interchange Southern Cross station
Lonsdale Street
La Trobe Street
Tram interchange
City Circle
; Bus interchange
216, 219
La Trobe Street
Tram 30, City Circle
La Trobe Street Bridge
Docklands Stadium
Harbour Esplanade
Tram 70, 75, City Circle
Central Pier
Footscray Road Siding
Docklands Drive
The District
Waterfront City
Note: Green denotes free tram zone

Possible extension[edit]

A possible extension of the route has been proposed to run from the current terminus up Plenty Road and Bush Boulevard to South Morang Station then around The Lakes Boulevard before turning back onto Plenty Road to Hawkstowe station. This would replace multiple bus routes and give a direct link from the University to South Morang station.[32]

In popular culture[edit]

In 2010 Melbourne-based musical comedian The Bedroom Philosopher released an album Songs from the 86 Tram inspired by the tram route as well as an award-winning comedy show of the same name.[33]

Courtney Barnett and Giles Field's 2011 song "I Can't Hear You, We're Breaking Up" is set on the 86 tram route, featuring an ill-fated romance that begins with a 'Hollywood meeting on the 86 tram'.[34]

Route 95[edit]

Until 27 July 2014 additional capacity through the Melbourne CBD was provided by route 95 short workings from Melbourne Museum to Spencer Street via Bourke Street between 12:00 and 14:00 on weekdays.[35][36]


  1. ^ Tramway Guide to Melbourne and Suburbs Melbourne Tramway & Omnibus Companypages 17
  2. ^ Tramway Guide to Melbourne and Suburbs Melbourne Tramway & Omnibus Company pages 13 & 15
  3. ^ Melbourne Tramway & Omnibus Company Limited Running Journal volume 9 no 3 page 16
  4. ^ a b c Northcote: the on again, off again cable tramway Friends of Hawthorn Tram Depot
  5. ^ Milestones, 1911 - 1920 Yarra Trams
  6. ^ Milestones, 1921 - 1930 Yarra Trams
  7. ^ Milestones, 1931 - 1940 Yarra Trams
  8. ^ Milestones, 1951 - 1960 Yarra Trams
  9. ^ History of Melbourne Trams Routes from 1950 to 2009 Yarra Trams
  10. ^ East Preston Tram Extension Electric Traction June 1983 pages 87/88
  11. ^ East Preston Line Extended Trolley Wire issue 208 October 1983 page 18
  12. ^ Here and There Trolley Wire February 1987 page 25
  13. ^ Electric Rail Development Transit Australia June 1987 page 103
  14. ^ Milestones, 1981 - 1990 Yarra Trams
  15. ^ Jones, Colin (1993). Watch for Trams. Kenthurst: Kangaroo Press. p. 118. ISBN 0 86417 544 2.
  16. ^ The Bundooora Tramway Transit Australia December 1995 page 267
  17. ^ Milestones, 1991 - 2000 Yarra Trams
  18. ^ Lyndsay Neilson. "Appendix 1: Funding Allocation, Victorian Area Strategies". The ‘Building Better Cities’ program 1991-96: a nation-building initiative of the Commonwealth Government. Retrieved 1 November 2010.
  19. ^ Metros Railway Gazette International May 2000 page 276
  20. ^ Melbourne - Yarra Trams Trolley Wire issue 281 May 2000 page 30
  21. ^ Around Melbourne Railway Digest September 2008 page 20
  22. ^ History of Melbourne Trams Routes from 1950 to 2009 Yarra Trams
  23. ^ Smart card tests to begin on trams this week Herald Sun 18 August 2008
  24. ^ Tram Route 86 Corridor Project Darebin City Council
  25. ^ Tram Route 86 - High Street and Plenty Road VicRoads
  26. ^ Night Tram Public Transport Victoria
  27. ^ Route 86 will be next to run E-Class Yarra Trams 15 April 2016
  28. ^ E Class on Route 86 Newsrail February 2017 page 56
  29. ^ Past meets future at new home of E-class trams Yarra Trams 17 April 2016
  30. ^ Preston Depot Vicsig
  31. ^ Melbourne News Trolley Wire issue 244 February 1991 page 24
  32. ^ South Morang - Future Transport Network City of Whittlesea
  33. ^ The bedroom philosopher songs from the 86 tram Melbourne International Comedy Festival 2010
  34. ^ Giles Field (Ft. Courtney Barnett) – I Can't Hear You, We're Breaking Up, retrieved 17 December 2020
  35. ^ Route Guide & Map 86/95 Yarra Trams
  36. ^ Capacity boost for tram passengers Yarra Trams 9 July 2014

External links[edit]

Media related to Melbourne tram route 86 at Wikimedia Commons