Where trams call home overnight

As night falls across the city the click of the trams can be heard in the gloom as they chug their way home to bed.

They travel up New Regent St, past the historic facades catching the last of the afternoon sun, through Cathedral Junction and out the other side.

A pause for passing rush-hour traffic on Worcester St before a final push across the cobbles. Padlocked cyclone fencing is dragged and pushed aside and the trams slip through, just the two.

On one side, the majestic Heritage Hotel looms above, stable and impressive in the glow of newly lit streetlights. On the other, the damaged former Design and Arts College sits quietly in the dark, cracked and empty.

At the end of the alley between them, dubbed Tramway Lane, huge double-high roller doors crank up on rattling chains for the trams to pass. This is where they go to sleep at night.

The custom-built Tram Barn doubles as a tram hospital, administering emergency treatment for damaged trams. A third red tram sits idle, waiting for repairs before it can chug out onto the streets again.

The restaurant car has seen better days and sits off to the right, still in pieces inside. It is part way through a specialist repair programme which will see it back in action by Christmas after more than three years off its usual beat.

The shed is cold and cavernous, made a little more welcoming by faded paisley carpet for soaking up the odd night-time oil spill. Through big windows, a passerby might catch a glimpse of the sleeping trams at night.

The shed has been home to the trams for 20 years or so. It was closed for 1000 days post-quake but now the cyclone fencing can be shifted twice a day for special tram access.

From 5pm to 10am in winter, and 9pm to 8am in summer the trams park up quietly for the night. When the loop is finally completed and an extension to High St installed, there will be six little trams sharing Tram Barn, five red and one blue.

The Press