With the homogeneity of so many western cities it’s nice to know that Melbourne’s trams provide it with a sonic identity, a soundmark. When I first visited Melbourne I really enjoyed listening to their smooth acceleration away from traffic lights, their sound-print being much “cleaner” compared to other forms of traffic on the road.
The sounds within a tram are quite a different matter – announcements are made through bad quality speakers, windows rattle, and the sound of the wheels on the tracks is jarring. This clip presents a sample of these, with warnings of ticket inspectors, passengers boarding, and quiet moments at traffic lights:
Thankfully Melbournites have made trams the fastest growing mode of transport in the city – without their distinctive sound Melbourne could easily blend into the uniformity of so many modern cities around the world.