Tram transport in India

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Tram transport in India was established by the British in the mid 19th century. Horse-drawn trams were introduced in Kolkata in 1873. The first electric tram service was started in Chennai in 1895. Electric trams were subsequently introduced in Kolkata (1900), Mumbai (1907), Kanpur (1907) and Delhi (1908). Trams were discontinued in most Indian cities between 1930 and 1960. Kolkata tram is the only operational tram system in the country.

Trams in India[edit]

System City Opening Year Closing Year
Trams in Kolkata Kolkata 1873 Running
Trams in Mumbai Mumbai 1874 1964
Trams in Nashik Nashik 1889 1931 - 1933
Trams in Chennai Chennai 1895 1953
Trams in Kanpur Kanpur 1907 1933
Trams in Kochi Kochi 1907 1963
Trams in Delhi Delhi 1908 1963
Trams in Patna Patna NA 1903
Trams in Bhavnagar Bhavnagar 1926 1947


A tram in 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]


A double decker tram of the early 20th century in Mumbai

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 travellers' needs until the betterment of the train network in the city; the service closed on 31 March 1964.[2]

Tram tracks hidden for more than six decades have been discovered underneath the road near South Mumbai’s Flora Fountain area on February 19, 2016.[3]


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 Nashik Road railway station (a distance of around 8–10 km). The stretch between Nashik and Nashik 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.


Trams in Madras (now 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, Parry's 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.


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]


In city of Kochi (then Cochin), Cochin State Forest Tramway was a 1,000 mm (3 ft 3 38 in) metre gauge[4][5][6] narrow gauge railway line and historical forest tramway running from the Parambikulam Wildlife Sanctuary in Palakkad District to Chalakudy in Thrissur District. Operating from 1907 to 1963, it served the State of Cochin and brought prosperity by bringing Teak and Rosewood from forests which were later shipped to different locations all around the globe.[7][8]


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]

The suburbs linked were Jama Masjid, Chandni Chowk, Chawri Bazaar, Katra Badiyan, Lal Kuan and Fatehpuri with Sabzi Mandi, Sadar Bazar, Paharganj, Ajmeri Gate, Bara Hindu Rao and Tis Hazari.[9]


Patna was among the few cities in India having horse-drawn trams as urban transport[10] 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.


Bhavnagar Tramway was a 2 ft 6 in (762 mm) narrow gauge railway built by the Bhavnagar State, India. The first section was built in 1926 from Bhavnagar south to Talaja, and then extended to Mahuva in 1938. The total length of the tramway was 67.5 miles. The tramway used small 4-8-0 locomotives, later classified as the "T" class. In 1947 the tramway was taken over by the Saurashtra Railway, and later by the Western Railway.[11]

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 cities.


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.[12] There are also plans to introduce trams in medium-sized cities[13] and plans to reintroduce trams in Delhi.[14][15]


See also[edit]


  1. ^ Calcutta Tramways Comapany timeline Retrieved 2011-03-16.
  2. ^ a b c d Tram views of Asia Retrieved 2011-03-16.
  3. ^
  4. ^ Journal on the Cochin State Forest Tramway
  5. ^ "Tramway to a trade empire". The Hindu. Retrieved 2013-03-17. 
  6. ^ "Public to get glimpses of the marvel of erstwhile tramway". The New Indian Express. Retrieved 2013-03-17. 
  7. ^ "Tramway to a trade empire". The Hindu. Retrieved 2013-03-17. 
  8. ^ "Public to get glimpses of the marvel of erstwhile tramway". The New Indian Express. Retrieved 2013-03-17. 
  9. ^ [1]
  10. ^ "First-ever book on Patna soon". The Times of India, September 23, 2008 Retrieved 2011-03-16.
  11. ^ Hughes, Hugh 1994 Indian Locomotives Pt. 3, Narrow Gauge 1863-1940. Continental Railway Circle.
  12. ^ "Trams likely to reappear in new avatar in upcoming smart cities". The Economic Times. Feb 7, 2010. 
  13. ^ "Ministry plans to introduce trams in mid-size cities". livemint. Sep 10, 2013. 
  14. ^ "Trams to ply on streets of Delhi again". The Economic Times. Mar 4, 2014. 
  15. ^ "Delhi to bring back a slice of history — trams". The Indian Express. March 5, 2014. 

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