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How Kolkata trams are getting a new lease of life

October 14, 2015 12:29 IST

Reopening of closed tram routes is on top of the mind of the authorities

Image: Tickets for the AC tram can be booked either online or at the Esplanade terminus. Photographs: Abhiroop Dey Sarkar.Colonial-era charm of trams is being revisited in the city with air-conditioned tram cars being lined up and closed routes being restored.

"We are getting a good response for our recent initiatives. During peak season we are getting full bookings for our air-conditioned tram car.

“Seeing the demand we have decided to add an AC vehicle to the fleet every year beginning from this year," Calcutta Tramways Company managing director Nilanjan Sandilya said.

The first AC tram was launched in 2013 and since then the authorities have not only started heritage tours but also allowed tour operators and even party-goers to book the single-bogie car.

"The second AC vehicle, built at the Nonapukur tram depot at a cost of about Rs 20 lakh (Rs 2 million), will feature better interiors and new technology," the official said.

Trams are popular for birthday parties, school and non-government organisation events and in a rare case a marriage was also solemnised in the street car.

A quintessential part of colonial-era Kolkata, the only place in India which still manages to accommodate the slow-moving vehicle in fast-moving cities, trams have also been a part of thriller films like Detective Byomkesh Bakshy! and Vidya Balan's Kahaani.

The footfall in the cafe-museum at the Esplanade depot is also encouraging and officials are thinking of have more such stationery cafe-museums at other places in the city.

Reopening of closed tram routes is also on top of the mind of the authorities.

They have recently restored two routes which were cut off since the last few years due to civic work.

Tourists booking AC trams often complain that because of the closed doors they miss the morning sounds of the city.

"Therefore, we have kept two non-air-conditioned heritage trams available for block booking by tour operators," Sandilya said.

Preferred for being an environmentally-friendly form of urban transport, trams number about 270 out of which 200 are in working condition.

Image: Tickets for the AC tram can be booked either online or at the Esplanade terminus. Photograph: Abhiroop Dey Sarkar

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