Chris celebrates his 50 year tramiversary

31 May 2020

Starting out as a fresh-faced 18-year-old conductor in 1970 before becoming a Driver, an Officer, and eventually an Operations Centre (OC) Controller, Chris Drossos has worked across pretty much every part of what we now call Lines.  

Working as an Officer throughout the 80s and 90s, Chris wore many operational hats, including Authorised Officer, Signalman, Starter, Operations Officer, Operations Officer Trainer and District Operations Officer. It was during this time that he saw some of the biggest changes to the network.

"The Automated Vehicle Monitoring (AVM) system came in in 1985; before that it was all done manually. Officers would manage the running by standing at a route junction with the table cards, checking each tram against the time, and adjusting the run with the Driver."

"You could only see the trams coming through your point. Now with one click of a button you can bring up the whole network, all 400 trams plus 75 trams in transition between depots for servicing or refurbishment in the workshop. You can see them individually and how they're running."

The change made a big difference for the safety of Drivers, too:

"To record running times, Drivers would have to get out of the tram and punch the clock at various points along the route. It created a lot of risks and people got hurt." 

"Back then, drivers didn't have any way to contact you. The only thing under Tramways was telephone boxes at various interchanges and if a Driver had a problem, they needed to get back to the track box and make a call to the radio centre from there."

Since March 1998, Chris has been supporting Yarra Trams' as an OC Controller.

"There's 400 trams on the network in peak hour and we have five controllers on duty looking after 80 trams and drivers each, so it can be non-stop. In addition, we are using two-way radios coordinating field staff which includes Operations Officers, Authorised Officers, Infrastructure crews, Customer Services Employees, and and more to manage delays and special events. There's a lot going on."

"But we have a good bond in the OC and help each other when it gets really busy. You're always surrounded by friends."

And after 50 years, what's Chris' favourite part of working with trams?

"I'm still as enthusiastic as day one. I've seen a lot of different trams and met thousands of people in this industry, but my favourite part of the job has been looking after my passengers. Safety and service delivery has always been our priority. Running the trams on time, safely.