Calcutta Tramways Company

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Calcutta Tramways Company
Founded 1880[1]
Headquarters Kolkata, West Bengal, India
Services Tramways, City bus
Owner Government of West Bengal

Calcutta Tramways Company (CTC) is a state-run company that runs trams and buses in and around Kolkata (formerly known as Calcutta) in West Bengal, India. The Kolkata tram is the only operating tramway in India and the oldest operating electric tram in Asia, running since 1902.[2][3]


Trams were the brainchild of the then-Viceroy of India, Lord Curzon. His motives were to ensure better public transport for the native people and better passage of goods from ports and dockyards to their respective destinations.

1873-1900: Introduction of horse-drawn trams[edit]

Horse-drawn trams in Kolkata, India (life-size model at City Centre arcade)

The first horse-drawn trams in India ran a 2.4-mile (3.9 km) distance between Sealdah and Armenian Ghat Street on 24 February 1873. The service was however discontinued on 20 November of the same year.[1] The Calcutta Tramway Co. Ltd was formed and registered in London on 22 December 1880. Metre-gauge horse-drawn tram tracks were laid from Sealdah to Armenian Ghat via Bowbazar Street, Dalhousie Square and Strand Road. The route was inaugurated by the Viceroy, Lord Ripon, on 1 November 1880.[1] In 1882, steam locomotives were deployed experimentally to haul tram cars. By the end of the nineteenth century the company owned 166 tram cars, 1000 horses, seven steam locomotives and 19 miles of tram tracks.;[1]

1900-1951: Introduction of electric trams[edit]

A tram in early 20th century.
A tram in 1945

In 1900, electrification of the tramway, and reconstruction of tracks to 4 ft 8 12 in (1,435 mm) (standard gauge) began.;[1] In 1902, the first electric tramcar in India ran from Esplanade to Kidderpore on 27 March, and on 14 June from Esplanade to Kalighat. In 1903, the Kalighat line was extended to Tollygunge, the Esplanade line to Belgachia (via Bidhan Sarani, Shyambazar), and the Esplanade to Sealdah route (via Binay Badal Dinesh Bag, Rajib Gandhi Sarani and [present] Mahatma Gandhi Road) opened. In 1904, Esplanade to Bagbazar route through College Street opened. In 1905, Howrah Station to Bandhaghat route was opened to trams in June. Electrification project completed.;[1] In 1906, Bowbazar Junction to Binay Badal Dinesh Bag, Ahiritola Junction to Hatibagan Junction routes opened. In 1908, Lines to Shibpur via G.T. Road prepared. Esplanade to Sealdah station via Moula Ali Junction, Moula Ali Junction to Nonapukur, Wattganj Junction to Jatin Das Park Junction (via Alipur), Mominpur Junction to Behala routes opened. In 1910: Sealdah Station to Rajabazar route opened. In 1915, Mirzapur Junction to Bowbazar Junction and Sealdah Station to Lebutala Junction routes opened. In 1920: Strand Road Junction to High Court route opened. In 1923, S.C.Mallik Square Junction to Park Circus route (via Royd Street, Nonapukur) opened. In 1928, Kalighat to Ballygunge route opened. In 1930, Park Circus line was extended to Garhiahat Junction. In 1941, the Rajabazar line was extended to Galiff Street. In February 1943, the Calcutta section was connected with the Howrah section through the new Howrah Bridge. With this extension, the total track length reached 42.0 miles (67.59 km).;[1]

1951-1980: Nationalisation[edit]

In 1951, the government of West Bengal entered into an agreement with the Calcutta Tramways Company, and the Calcutta Tramways Act of 1951 was enacted. The government assumed all rights regarding the Tramways, and reserved the right to purchase the system (with two years' notice) on 1 January 1972 or any time thereafter.;[1] In 1967, the Government of West Bengal passed the Calcutta Tramways Company (Taking Over of Management) Act and assumed management on 19 July. On 8 November 1976 the Calcutta Tramways (Acquisition of Undertaking) ordinance was promulgated, under which the company (and its assets) united with the government.;[1] In 1970, the Howrah sections were closed in October; the 1971/1973 Nimtala route was closed down in May 1973, and realignment of the Howrah Station terminus occurred. Total track length was now reduced to 38 miles (61.2 km).[1]

1980-present: Later developments[edit]

In 1980, tram tracks on Bentinck Street and Ashutosh Mukhopadhyay Road closed for construction of the Kolkata metro; following construction, these stretches were not reopened. In 1982, the Sealdah Station terminus (along with the Sealdah – Lebutala stretch on Bipin Bihari Ganguli Street) closed for construction of an overpass. The site is now occupied by Sealdah Court and a bus terminal. On 17 April 1985, tracks were extended connecting Maniktala to Ultadanga via Maniktala Main road and C. I. T. Road 3.7 km (2.30 mi).[1] On 31 December 1986, further extension of tram tracks from Behala to Joka was completed.[1] In 1992, Calcutta Tramways Company undertook a new venture by introducing bus service from 4 November, initially with a fleet of 40 buses.;[1] In 1993, Howrah Station terminus closed and tram tracks removed on Howrah Bridge; the cantilever bridge proved too weak for trams. All routes terminated there were shortened to the Burrabazar (Howrah Bridge) terminus (formerly Burrabazar Junction). In 1995, High Court terminus closed for reconstruction of Strand Road. Rails and wires were removed from there and from Strand Road, Hare Street and Shahid Khudiram Basu Road. The site is now occupied by the newest building of the Kolkata High Court. In 2004, Garhiahat Depot – Garhiahat Junction link on Gariahat Road closed for construction of the Gariahat overpass. In 2006, Mominpur – Behala stretch on Diamond Harbour Road closed for construction of an overpass at Taratala. Initially, there was a plan to route tracks on that overpass after its completion, but the road was later converted to a National Highway and the plan dismissed. Until 2012, the Behala – Joka stretch was still in existence, along with the Behala terminus. In 2007, Wattgunge Junction – Mominpur Diamond Harbour Road, Mominpur – Jatin Das Park Judges Court Road, Jatin Das Park – Kalighat Shyama Prasad Mukherjee Road routes closed for reconstruction. In 2008, Galiff Street terminus was realigned. Irregular service from Bagbazar to Galiff Street was converted to regular by Route 7/12. Rails and wires were removed from part of Bidhan Sarani route (restored by end of year). In 2009: Tracks on R. G. Kar Road from Shyambazar five-point crossing to Belgachia tram depot closed down for reconstruction. In 2011, Joka-Behala stretch and Behala depot closed down for construction of the Joka-BBD Bag metro project;Ballygunge-Kalighat stretch closed for reconstruction.Lalbazar-Mirjapur down line was closed but up line still opened. In 2015, Park Circus depot closed down for construction of the Park Circus Flyover & Nonapukur Depot was reopened. But Garhiahat Depot was still now opened. In 2016, Gariahat section has been reopened after 12 years. The tram depot next to the Gariahat Mall became operational. On 30 September 2014, a tram functioning as a museum opened to the public and displays the history of the tram system.[4]


The Calcutta Tramways Company (1978) Ltd has run the Kolkata tram, currently the oldest electric tramway in Asia as well as India's only tram system, since 1880.


With over 40 routes throughout Kolkata and its surrounding areas, CTC serves the area well and complements its tram service. The initial bus service was introduced from Rajabazar with a fleet of 40 buses, augmented in 1993 with service from Kidderpore depot. The Tollygunge and Belgatchia depots were added in 1994 and 1995 respectively. In 2005, the CTC began bus service from Ghasbagan depot at Howrah.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m [1] CTC website. Accessed 16 August 2013.
  2. ^ "Kolkata trams to get a GenX makeover". The Times Of India. 13 July 2012. 
  3. ^ "Reaching India". New Delhi: Times Internet Limited. Archived from the original on 16 October 2007. Retrieved 27 February 2012. 
  4. ^ "Calcutta Tramways Company inaugurates museum on wheels". 30 Sep 2014. 


  • Niyogi, S. Shake, rattle & roll. The Sunday Story, Sunday Times of India, Kolkata, 25 June 2006. Available on Times of India e-paper (paid subscription required as of 2010).
  • Pathak Pratap Shankar, The Sunday Story, Sunday Times of India, Kolkata.

External links[edit]