The Age 1 Dec 09: THOUSANDS of seats will be removed from Melbourne's existing trains over the next two years by new operator Metro to squeeze in more passengers.
And the trouble-plagued air-conditioning units on the city's 92 Comeng trains - which failed dramatically in last summer's heat - will not need to be completely overhauled for another six years.
Contracts worth about $9 billion signed in August by the Government with Metro and Yarra Trams' new operator Keolis were posted on the Department of Transport's website yesterday.
Financial details are deleted, but the details of key projects were included.
They show that the number of much-loved W-class trams will be reduced to just 38 (about 50 were supposed to run under the old contracts).
Among train projects detailed is a plan to remove about 12 seats per carriage from the city's 29 six-carriage Alstom trains, bought in 2002. Seats will also be removed from 13 of the older Comeng trains.
Connex tested removing 12 seats per carriage on a trial train earlier this year and reported positive feedback. A spokeswoman for Metro confirmed the plan last night.
Public Transport Users Association president Daniel Bowen backed the move, saying it made sense to change the layout of the trains ''to more efficiently distribute people''.
Almost 1200 air-conditioning units on the Comeng trains could also be replaced, although this is dependent on a trial overhaul being carried out now and to be assessed by February.
The contracts show the Government does not require the upgrade of air-conditioning to be complete until 2015.
Are fewer seats the answer? Can we wait for six years for better air-con? What do you think?
PICTURE: Herald - Sun shot of Premier Brumby and Minister Kosky visiting Flinders Street station for the first day of Metro KDR