Tram Recovery Vehicle

Last night I was walking along Queens Parade when along came an old green tram. I think it was of the kind that they refer to nowadays as “W-Class”: like the City Circle trams, only green. The tram was going very slowly, heading along Queens Parade towards Westgarth. I began to worry for the tram, due to the huge hill just the other side of the Westgarth shops. I could just picture the tram chugging all the way to the top, only to slide back down again.

Then I saw a truck coming along behind the tram. Unlike the tram, the truck was all white. On its side was painted in black letters: “TRAM RECOVERY VEHICLE”. My first instinct was to ask why the truck was behind the tram instead of in front, pulling it up the hill. Then I saw the huge bulldozer style front bullbar on the truck and understood: the TRV’s job was to push, as well as (presumably) “catch” the tram should it lose its brakes. Kind of like a parent pushing a child on a swing. Well, not really but maybe you get the idea.

I started thinking about how nice it would be to have a vehicle like that around all the time: some thing to catch you when you fall, or push you along when the energy runs out. It was nice to think such warm and protective thoughts, even though I knew I was straying dangerously close to a form of anthropomorphism.

Then the tram started up and turned the long corner of Queens Parade to inch up High Street. Right on cue, the TRV followed behind. The screeches of the wheels and the dust kicked up by the tracks assaulted my ears and eyes as I crossed the road. Then the screeching noise faded. Soon enough, the sounds of the cars had taken over everything.


  1. nothing wrong with a bit of anthropomorphism. Where’d we be without bearded grapes, pears paying rent, sentient knee-graffiti and the like?

    does bendigo’s talking tram count as an anthropomorphism?


    adam f

  2. a bit more on the tram … the w-class, of course, always had perfectly good brakes that were tended to daily by creatures of the night called ‘pitmen’. while the city slept, they would emrge in the pits at northcote and east brunswick and south melbourne and malvern, spanners in hand, to “feel” the brakes on each and every tram, and to adjust them for the next days journeys. when the private companies took over they sacked these artisans, and trams began to slide and collide all over melbourne. so, the privateers sent to germany for new bogeys for the old w’s that took about 4 years to arrive and that are so idiosyncratic that they fail continously. therefore? we invented TRVs to push the sad old hulks of their former selves home. it’s a modern day macbeth!

    clarence the conductor

  3. so that’s what anthropomorphism means. a daily act for most i think. is there a similar term for attributing animal characteristics to humans? nice piece Davey, i have often wished for my own SEAN RECOVERY VEHICLE, boy would that sucker get worked hard. But then i’ve often wished for my own theme music too.

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