Tram transport in India

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Two trams rounding a curve
Trams rolling out of a Calcutta Tramways Company depot in Kolkata

Tram transport in India was established by the British in the 19th century. Discontinued in most Indian cities between 1930 and 1960, as of 2014, the Kolkata tram in Kolkata (formerly Calcutta) is the only public tram system in the country.

Horse-drawn trams were introduced in India in the early 19th century. The first electric tram service was started in Madras (now Chennai) in 1895. Electric trams were subsequently introduced in Kolkata (1900), Mumbai (1907), Kanpur (1907) and Delhi (1908).

Kolkata[edit]

Main article: Kolkata tram
Life-size horse-drawn tram in Kolkata park
Horse-drawn tram (life-size model at City Centre arcade, Kolkata)

The Calcutta Tramways Company, Limited is the company which manages tramways in Kolkata. Horse-drawn tram service was begun on 24 February 1873 between Sealdah and Armenian Ghat Street; due to inadequate ridership, the service ended on November 20 of that year. The British registered the Calcutta Tramways Company, Limited as a joint stock company in London in 1880. Before 1900, the trams were horse-drawn; that year, the process of electrification began.

In 1951 the government of West Bengal entered into an agreement with the CTC, and the Calcutta Tramways Act was enacted. The government took over all rights regarding the tramways; it reserved the right to purchase the system on 1 January 1972 or any time thereafter, with two years' notice. In 1967 the government of West Bengal passed the Calcutta Tramways Company (Taking Over of Management) Act, and assumed its management on 19 July 1967. On 8 November 1976 the Calcutta Tramways (Acquisition of Undertaking) Ordinance was enacted, under which the company vested all its assets with the government; it is now a public-sector undertaking.[1]

Mumbai[edit]

The British proposed the introduction of trams in Mumbai (then known as Bombay) in 1864, and the contract was awarded to Stearns and Kitteredge in 1873. The first tram, begun between Parel and Colaba on 9 May 1874, were drawn by six to eight horses. (Stearns and Kitteredge reportedly had a stable of 900 horses when tram service began). Electrified tram service began on 7 May 1907. Double-deck tram service began in September 1920; at the peak of service in 1935, 433 trams ran on 47 kilometres (29 mi) of track. The trams met travelers' needs until the betterment of the train network in the city; the service closed on 31 March 1964.[2]

Delhi[edit]

Delhi's tram system opened on 6 March 1908. At its zenith in 1921 there were 24 open cars utilising 15 km of track. The system was in operation until about 1963.[2]

Patna[edit]

Patna was among the few cities in India having horse-drawn trams as urban transport[3] The horse-drawn tram in Patna ran in the populated stretch of Ashok Rajpath, from Patna City to Bankipore, with its western terminus at Sabzibagh (opposite Pirbahore Police Station) under the direction of the Patna City Municipality. The tram was discontinued in 1903 due to lack of ridership; plans to extend it further west never materialised.

Kanpur (Cawnpore)[edit]

Trams were introduced in Kanpur (Cawnpore) in June 1907. The tram system opened in June 1907 and closed on May 16, 1933. There were 4 miles of track and 20 single-deck open trams. The single line connected the railway station with Sirsaya Ghat on the banks of the Ganges. Photographs of Cawnpore trams are very rare.The introductory stock was electric traction-type single-coach; single-coach trams were also used in Delhi, Mumbai and Chennai. There was one line – a four-mile stretch between the train station and Sirsaya Ghat, on the Ganges – and 20 open cars. Service was discontinued on 16 May 1933.[2]

Nasik Tramway[edit]

This tramway was constructed in 1889 to a 2 ft 6 in (762 mm) narrow gauge. The consulting engineer was Everard Calthrop, who later achieved renown with the Barsi Light Railway. Originally, the tramway used two carriages pulled by four horses; It originated from what is now the Old Municipal Corporation building located on Main Road, and terminated at the Nasik Road railway station (a distance of around 8–10 km). The stretch between Nasik and Nasik Road was covered with dense jungle; the only mode of transport from the station to the city was by horse-drawn carriage or one of two taxis. The tramway closed down between 1931 and 1933.

Chennai[edit]

Trams in Chennai were operated between the docks and the inland areas, carrying goods and passengers. When the system began on 7 May 1895, it was the first electric tram system in India. The trams could carry heavy loads and were popular, with thousands of riders daily. The route encompassed Mount Road, Parrys Corner, Poonamallee Road and the Ripon Building. At its height in 1921, there were 97 cars running on 24 km of track. However, the tram company went bankrupt about 1950 and the system closed on 12 April 1953.[2] The contract to remove the tracks and overhead cables was given to Narainsingh Ghanshamsingh.

Power supply[edit]

The trams were run on a direct current power supply from overhead power lines, which replaced the original conduit after a series of monsoons. The power supply was obtained by a current collector called a trolley pole, mounted on top of the tram. The track rails served as the return path for the DC current.

The DC power was supplied by mercury arc rectifier (converter) stations located in various sections of Chennai. Power for them was supplied by the Madras Electricity System, from a thermal power station at Basins Bridge which generated AC power.

Tramways in India[edit]

Pink background for the systems that are terminated.

System City Opening Year Closing Year System length (km) No. of lines
Chennai tram Chennai 1895 1953
Cochin State Forest Tramway Palakkad, Thrissur 1907 1963 1
Delhi tram Delhi 1908 1963
Kanpur tram Kanpur 1907 1933 1
Mumbai tram Mumbai 1874 1964
Nasik tram Nasik 1889 1931 - 1933
Patna tram Patna 1903 1903
Kolkata tram Kolkata 1873 Present 25

Gallery[edit]

Future[edit]

Although trams have not been reintroduced in other places after their closure in all Indian cities apart from Kolkata, there have been some plans to reintroduce trams in upcoming smart cities as a new transport avatar.[4] There are also plans to introduce trams in medium sized cities[5] and plans to reintroduce trams in Delhi.[6][7]

References[edit]

External links[edit]