Trams in Kolkata
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|Number of lines||25|
|Daily ridership||70,000 daily|
|Operator(s)||Calcutta Tramways Company|
|Number of vehicles||257 trams (125 in operation)|
|System length||57.17 km |
|Track gauge||Standard gauge 1,435 mm (4 ft 8 1⁄2 in)|
|Electrification||550 V DC Overhead line|
The tram system in the city of Kolkata, West Bengal, India, operated by the Calcutta Tramways Company (CTC), is currently the only tram network operating in India. It is the oldest operating electric tram in Asia, running since 1902.
- 1 History
- 2 Operators
- 3 Rolling stock
- 4 Depots, terminals and workshops
- 5 Routes
- 6 Accidents
- 7 Future
- 8 See also
- 9 References
- 10 Notes
- 11 External links
Trams were the brainchild of the then-Viceroy of India, Lord Curzon. His motives were to ensure better public transport for inhabitants and better passage of goods from ports and dockyards to their destinations.
1873-1900: Introduction of horse-drawn trams
The first horse-drawn trams in India ran for 2.4-mile (3.9 km) between Sealdah and Armenian Ghat Street on 24 February 1873. The service was however discontinued on 20 Nov. 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. In 1882, steam locomotives were deployed experimentally to haul tram cars. By the end of the 19th century the company owned 166 tram cars, 1,000 horses, seven steam locomotives and 19 miles of tram tracks.;
1900-1943: Introduction of electric trams
In 1900 the electrification of the tramway, and reconstruction of tracks to 4 ft 8 1⁄2 in (1,435 mm) (standard gauge) began.; 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, the Esplanade to Bagbazar route through College Street opened. In June 1905, the Howrah Station to Bandhaghat route was opened and the electrification project completed.; In 1906, the Bowbazar Junction to Binay Badal Dinesh Bag and the Ahiritola Junction to Hatibagan Junction routes opened. In 1908, lines to Shibpur via G.T. Road was 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. 1941, 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).; 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.; 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.; 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).;
1980-present: Later developments
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). On 31 December 1986, further extension of tram tracks from Behala to Joka was completed. In 1992, Calcutta Tramways Company undertook a new venture by introducing bus service from 4 November, initially with a fleet of 40 buses.; 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.
CTC owns 257 trams, of which 125 trams are running on the streets of Kolkata on a daily basis. The cars are single-deck articulated cars and can carry 200 passengers (60 seated).
The early horse-drawn cars were imported from England, as were the steel tram cars manufactured before 1952. Until then, most tramcars were bought from the English Electric Company and Dick, Kerr & Co. After 1952, the cars were built in India. The introductory rolling stock was single-coach, like at the time, in other Indian cities (Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai and Kanpur), because the new mode of transport was experimental. Since it gained popularity quickly, another coach was attached some years later (as in Mumbai), which is now standard. Double decker trams (like Mumbai's) were never used in Kolkata. Triple-coach trams were unsuccessfully tried. Single-coach trams were used on the Shibpur line until its closure in 1970.Later stock was of the SLT type. It was double-coach with three doors, four wheels under each coach and no wheels between coaches. SLT trams had no front iron net, but had a front-coach trolley pole. The both-end type had a front iron net and a rear-coach trolley pole. SLTs were the first double-coach trams, introduced only on the Kolkata side of the Hooghly River (not on the Howrah side). These were gradually replaced by articulated trams on all routes. The SLC type was introduced much later on the Bandhaghat line, and continued until its closure in 1971; after that, SLC trams began running on the G/H and T/G lines on the Kolkata side. Articulated trams were in use until 1989.
Recently, two trams were completely renovated to world-class standards with front and back glass, fluorescent lights, FM radio, digital display boards, slanted seats and a fibreglass ceiling. More renovated trams are planned; from 2008 to 2010 the Nonapukur workshop manufactured 19 new-look trams, of which four are in the final stages of completion. The rooftop is clear polycarbonate sheeting with a wide window space, comfortable seating and better visibility from inside and out. Nonapukur Workshop is now manufacturing new tram cars and renovating existing steel-body (BSCL) cars. After plans for banquet/cafeteria trams and air-conditioned trams to attract commuters and foreign tourists as well as to increase revenue for the company, one single-coach air-conditioned banquet tram has now been introduced and offers heritage tours to north Kolkata in the morning and south Kolkata in the evening. However, the AC tram received poor patronage when it was introduced, although there are plans for more AC trams in Kolkata.
In addition to passenger cars, there is a museum tram, rail-scrubber cars (which polish the tracks using jets of water), flat cars for goods transportation (some of which are modified from obsolete single-coach Howrah trams) and a tower-inspection car for checking wires.
There are following types of rolling stock:
- Old SLC Type – The first double-coach tram with wheels between the coaches, manufactured at the Nonapukur workshop. It is sometimes called an "elephant car" by the CTC; its cab and back side is narrow and slightly slanted forward, like the head of an elephant without the trunk. It was introduced as a higher-speed tram with an improved engine, designed to run on express routes such as Galiff Street, Baliganj, Tollyganj, Behala and Khidirpur. It was longer than an articulated tram, and was the first tram with a cab door.
- SLC Type – This modified variation has a pivot, and is less stylish than articulated trams; it is also manufactured at Nonapukur. The only difference is that its front and back are straight, not slanted. It was also introduced as a higher-speed tram, with an improved engine, designed to run on express routes. Later, this type enjoyed more general use.
- Articulated SLC Type – This is a slightly less-stylish variation of the articulated tram, also manufactured at Nonapukur. The only difference is that its front and back are overhanging, and narrow towards the ends. It also had an improved engine, but was suitable for local routes. Later, this type was also used on express routes. Some early cars were also well-maintained.
- Renovated SLC Type – After many years of SLC and articulated trams a new type of rolling stock arrived in Kolkata, made by Burn Standard India Limited. It is stronger, heavier and faster than earlier designs. A result of the decision around 1982 to continue tram service, it changed the image of trams in Kolkata. The improved stock began running throughout the city network on all routes. Some trams were partly modified with front glass; two were modified to resemble Melbourne's B-class trams, with fluorescent lights, back glass and double ends. These are the most common trams in Kolkata.
- New Cars – Before the introduction of the single-coach tram in December 2012, this was the last new rolling stock, built by Jessop India Limited and a variation of the pivot type, introduced about 1984. Some trams were partly modified with front glass; one was modified with fluorescent lights, FM radio, digital advertising and route boards. These are the second-most-common trams in Kolkata.
- Single-Coach Type – This is the latest new rolling stock, one of which has been running since 24 December 2012. These trams are claimed to be faster and more manoeuvrable than the current double-coach trams with the carriage being longer than the carriages in the double-coach trams. There are now plans to introduce more single-coach trams across the city, including air-conditioned coaches, possibly replacing the double-coach trams with the single-coach and reopening some closed tram routes.
Depots, terminals and workshops
There are seven tram depots – Belgachhia, Rajabazar, Park Circus, Gariahat, Tollygunge, Kalighat and Khidirpur; nine terminals – Shyambazar, Galiff Street, Bidhannagar, Ballygunge, Esplanade, B. B. D. Bagh, and Howrah Bridge; and one workshop – Nonapukur. Rajabazar and Tollygunge depots are the largest in terms of tracks and area, respectively. Khidirpur depot is the oldest, and Kalighat the smallest. The Esplanade terminus serves the most tram routes.
Formerly there was another depot at Ghasbagan which has now converted to bus depot. Former termini were Shibpur, Bandhaghat, Bagbazar, Calcutta High Court, Nimtala, Behala, Joka, Sealdah, Howrah, M.P.Birla Planetarium & Racecourse - all have now closed.
For closed routes, see the "Route Map of trams in Kolkata" on right.
During 3 December 2012, a seven-year-old boy got run over and killed by a tram entering Ultadanga depot; the boy had reportedly been playing near the tram tracks when the tram approached and struck him before the brakes could be fully applied.
On 31 January 2013, a bus driver attempted to overtake a tram with the bus rear grazing the tram. Due to the bus scraping against the tram, a bus passengers arm was ripped off and the man was rushed to hospital for his arm to be reattached.
On 19 June 2014 a freak accident was reported in which a ghost tram rammed into 10 cars. No fatalities or injuries were reported.
Plans have been proposed to refurbish stock and wires, extend the system to more areas or tunnel under the Hooghly River, There have also been some proposals to replace the current double-coach SLC type trams with the new single-coach trams and extend the tram system to places like Salt Lake, Rajarhat and Bantala and reopening of some closed routes. There are also plans for a tram route across the riverfront of the Hooghly River
There have occasionally been plans to gradually phase out the tram system due to criticisms that the trams occupy too much road space, slow down other road vehicles due to their slow pace and carry too few passengers although they have been cancelled due to the environmentally friendly and iconic status of the trams in the city.
- Tram Routes
-  CTC website. Accessed 16 August 2013.
- "Bankrupt CTC to introduce two more AC trams". The Times of India. 14 August 2013.
- "Reaching India". New Delhi: Times Internet Limited. Retrieved 27 February 2012.
- "Kolkata trams to get a GenX makeover". 13 July 2012.
- "Calcutta Tramways Company inaugurates museum on wheels". 30 Sep 2014.
- "Kolkata to get banquet and cafeteria trams". Daily News. 12 February 2013.
- "Enjoy Kolkata's heritage with an AC tram ride". The Economic Times. 18 April 2013.
- "Kolkata's modernised heritage trams fail to woo passengers". India Today. 24 June 2013.
- "City's new public ride arrives on Christmas Eve". hindustan times. 23 December 2012.
- "More single-coach trams to run on various streets in Kolkata soon". RailNews. 2013-03-26.
- "Tram route gets new life on Panchami". 10 October 2013.
- "Tram route back on track after 7 years". 18 October 2013.
- "Tram runs over 7-year-old". The Times of India. 3 December 2012.
- "'Passenger's arm ripped off as bus races tram in Kolkata". The Times of India. 31 January 2013.
- "'Ghost tram' rams into 10 cars in Kolkata". The Times of India. 20 June 2014.
- "Subhas dreams of tram below Hooghly". The Times of India. 21 May 2002.
- "New tram route on anvil to soak in riverfront views". The Times of India. 8 July 2013.
- "City tram network set for expansion". The Statesman. 12 September 2013.
- "State govt mulls phasing out trams from Kolkata streets". 27 Sep 2016.
- "Kolkata trams not to be scrapped". 22 May 2017.
- 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
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Trams in Kolkata.|
- Official website of Calcutta Tramways Company
- Urbanrail.net page with schematic map of trams in Kolkata
- Geographical map of trams in Kolkata, both past and latest updates
- Some great photos of trams in Kolkata
- Department of Transport from the Government of West Bengal website
- A little more Information about trams in Kolkata