The tramways carnival ‘Tramjatra’, which has been observed in Kolkata since 1996, is back after a gap of four years, marking 150 years of the legacy commute system in the country.
And it has brought along positive information that the Bengal government will continue the service, though in a limited capacity.
Trams to run on ‘four or five routes’
The Transport Minister of West Bengal, Snehasis Chakraborty, said on Friday that the administration could not run trams on all routes due to flyovers and Metro Rail infrastructure construction.
But he said that the government has no intention of scrapping the service entirely and that the trams would continue to exist as a city heritage.
As per a Telegraph India report, Chakraborty said trams will run on “four or five routes” and “it would not be possible” to run them on all routes like before.
The minister further said the government recognised that trams were an environment-friendly mode of transport, but due to the city’s roads being too narrow, it is possible to run trams on only some routes.
“We are constantly in talks with Kolkata police and the Kolkata Municipal Corporation. Based on their inputs, we will run trams on routes where it will not lead to congestion,” said Chakraborty at the inaugural function in central Kolkata.
From 25 routes in 2017 to 3 at present
A member of the tram users’ association told the publication that there are only three routes – Tollygunge-Ballygunge (route 24/29), Gariahat-Esplanade (route 25) and Shyambazar-Esplanade (route 5) – on which trams now run as of now.
Other association members revealed that 25 tram routes were functioning in Kolkata till June 2017, while they stood at 51 back in 1958.
The reasons cited behind the diminishing number of routes are – impact of the Covid pandemic, devastation caused by the Amphan Cyclone in 2020 and the Metro Rail construction.
‘Tramjatra’ – a global association
The long-running ‘Tramjatra’ carnival, a global collaboration of tram enthusiasts, artists, environmentalists, and communities, has been in motion in Melbourne and Kolkata. It underlines the value of trams through awareness campaigns for cultural heritage, healthy living and sustainability.
The theme of this year’s Tramjatra is Heritage, Clean Air and Green Mobility.
For five days, colourful trams will travel across the city displaying artworks, including paintings and posters with sustainable development goal themes.
Local youths will perform musical and theatrical performances inside moving trams, while Roberto D’ Andrea, a retired tram conductor from the Australian city, would distribute specially designed ‘Tramjatra’ cards to passengers.
Roberto D’Andrea, the retired tram conductor from Melbourne, said that coming from another ‘great tram city’, he is privileged to be present at the 150th anniversary of Kolkata’s tram service.
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The first tram, a horse-drawn carriage, in Kolkata, then Calcutta, ran between Sealdah and Armenian Ghat on February 24, 1873, according to the website of the West Bengal Transport Corporation.
(With inputs from PTI)
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