A mini triumph for the tramcar, that’s what it’s being touted as. And a small Puja bonus for those travelling south by south-east. Trashing objections raised by the Trinamul Congress-controlled Calcutta Municipal Corporation (CMC), the Calcutta Tramways Company (CTC) is set to relay the route on the 750-metre stretch between Gariahat tram depot and the Gariahat crossing to link it again to the Ballygunge depot. This, in effect, means that passengers coming in from Park Circus can now travel up to Ballygunge station, instead of having their tram ride terminated at the Gariahat depot. Services on this section had been suspended since the construction of the Gariahat flyover.
“Paying heed to public demand, we have started working on a proposal for restoring tram services on the small stretch between Gariahat junction and Ballygunge Phari. This will enable passengers to enjoy a hassle-free ride from Ballygunge to Howrah station without a break,” said CTC general manager S.N. Paul.
CTC chairman and CPM legislator Rajdeo Goala added: “I have spoken to transport minister Subhas Chakraborty and his response has been positive. We will discuss the matter further on June 20.” Tramway officials said the dual tram tracks, coming in from the Park Circus side, will now branch off on either side of the flyover on reaching the Gariahat depot. From there, they will hug the sidewalk and carry on till they meet the tram tracks at the Gariahat junction.
According to Paul, the Hooghly River Bridge Commissioners (HRBC) had entered into a contract for relaying the route once the Gariahat flyover was completed, but nothing has been done so far. “Bowing to public pressure, especially from guardians of children studying in different educational institutions in the locality, we have asked the HRBC to relay the track without further delay,” the CTC officials added. The relaying cost has been pegged at Rs 80 lakh.
HRBC vice-chairman S.R. Banerjee, however, said the CTC could relay the defunct track on its own. “We may undertake the job once we get a clearance from the government. Besides, the work for a concrete pavement on either side of the 1.75-km tram track between Ballygunge Phari and Park Circus will begin next month.”
Anup Chatterjee, mayor-in-council member in charge of city roads, said the CMC had initially objected to the tracks being relaid on the stretch, fearing that it would add to the traffic chaos on the stretch. “But if this helps commuters, we should have no objections.”
In a related move, the CTC has informed the Public Works Department that it will not withdraw tramcars when the construction of the proposed Taratala flyover begins later this month. Tramway officials said the withdrawal of services on the 10-km stretch, between Mominpur and Joka, on which nearly 50 tramcars ply, would result in a revenue loss to the tune of Rs 1.25 lakh daily.