Far from being phased out, the city’s tramcars are being readied for a revamp. Last week, a representative of the Hiroshima Electric Railway Company called on transport minister Subhas Chakraborty and senior officials of the Calcutta Tramways Company (CTC) to discuss the technical improvement of services.
“Experts from Hiroshima are ready to collaborate with us for overhauling the trams that need to be modernised, in keeping with the times,” Mohammad Salim, acting CTC managing director, said on Wednesday.
The Japanese company’s revamp offer follows a visit chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee made to Hiroshima City in September 2001. He was impressed by the efficient service of Hiroshima’s trams, that are run, managed and supervised by the company.
Rajdeo Goala, CPM legislator from Belgachhia (West), who has been appointed CTC chairman, said he would ensure that tracks across the city were improved so the modern cars could ply. “Trams cater to a sizeable number of commuters, particularly, women and children, apart from the elderly and ailing,” he added.
Officials confirmed the visit by Uyeda Yoshihiko of the Hiroshima company last week. They said he discussed the modalities of modernising services. “We believe that funds for the purpose will not be a problem, if the foreign firm’s proposal gets the government nod,” they added.
Tramways’ chief accounts officer R.N. Ghosh said experts from Hiroshima would return to the city as soon as a letter from the chief minister’s office is forwarded to the company. The Hiroshima firm will undertake technical improvement of the entire 68-km stretch of tram services between Belgachhia in the north and Joka in the south.
Tramways sources said the authorities are worried over the withdrawal of services from 10 routes to facilitate construction of flyovers. “We shall incur losses to the tune of Rs 1.4 lakh daily and 1,100 conductors, drivers and other staff will be rendered jobless if the routes are removed,” said a senior CTC official.
According to him, trams have already been withdrawn from the stretch between Gariahat depot and Park Circus and between Gas Street and Sahitya Parishad Street. The company will incur further losses if services are withdrawn from Esplanade to Taratala, where a flyover is coming up.
Vice-chairman S.R. Banerjee of HRBC, which is constructing the flyovers, said his company was negotiating with the CTC to ensure that the routes remain operational during construction work.