Trams for heritage rides, trams for wedding parties, trams for a leisurely cup of tea…
The Calcutta Tramways Company (CTC) is on track to launch a tea salon on wheels, in collaboration with the Tata Tea Company. Buoyed by the business that bedecked Banalata is bringing in, with its heritage tour and special rides, the cash-strapped CTC has now decided to develop another exclusive car on wheels, for sightseeing over steaming cups of tea.
For this, the company will enter into an agreement with Tata Tea to refurbish an old tramcar into a mobile tea-and-snacks bar. This will take to the tracks around five days a week along a 68-km stretch from Joka to Belgachhia. “We have already finalised the deal with Tata Tea and will sign the MoU in the next few days,” said Sudhir De, CTC chairman-cum-managing director (CMD).
Welcoming the CTC move, Vivek Mathur, vice-president of Tata Tea, felt the project would provide Calcuttans and tourists with the opportunity of trundling through town, sipping tea and munching snacks. “We are very positive about the proposal, since this is sure to receive a good response from the city,” added Mathur.
According to De, the “tremendous success” of Banalata had been the motivating factor. “Banalata, which plies through different routes in north Calcutta on Saturdays and Sundays every week, has become a most popular mode of transport among schoolchildren, families and foreigners. It was even hired by one of our staff members for his borjatri recently. The latest move to convert a tramcar into a mobile tea salon is indicative of the growing demand for the century-old transport system,” added the CMD.
Tramway officials said Tata Tea would have to pay “a little over Rs 80,000 a month” to use the streetcar with a difference.
Sushan Dash, Tata Tea officer overseeing the project, said: “The project will be launched by September-October and will run for six months on an experimental basis. If it clicks, it will become a permanent fixture.”
Bibi Sarkar, of Taaja’s, off Ballygunge Circlular Road, which will supply the snacks, said half of the rear coach will be converted into a small pantry, from where cakes, cookies, samosas and a variety of biscuits will be served along with tea. “Another portion of the rear coach and the entire front coach will be furnished with beautiful chairs and tables to create the right ambience,” she added.