Monday, 30th October 2017

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Calcutta set for AC tram debut

Each of the AC trams cost Rs 25 lakh and is fitted with a 5.5 tonne AC unit, LED light bulbs and fans

  • Published 26.02.19, 12:43 PM
  • Updated 26.02.19, 12:43 PM
  • a min read
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The AC trams at Esplanade after transport minister Suvendu Adhikari inaugurated them on Monday. Picture by Pradip Sanyal

Air-conditioned trams are set to start ferrying passengers in Calcutta for the first time this summer.

The routes of the two single-coach trams, which were inaugurated on Monday, will be decided shortly.

“We want to dispel the myth that the state government is trying to wind up trams. That is not the case,” transport minister Suvendu Adhikari said while inaugurating the trams.

“Heavy sentiment is associated with trams in Calcutta. Trams should not affect the overall speed of vehicles on roads. But that is not to say we are trying to do away with trams.”

Each of the AC trams, built at the Nonapukur tram depot near Ripon Street, cost Rs 25 lakh and is fitted with a 5.5 tonne AC unit, LED light bulbs and fans. The windows have curtains.

Earlier, the transport department had built two AC trams — Charoibeti and Rupashi Bangla — for joyrides.

The response to these prompted the government to build two more AC trams, a transport department official said. “Unlike those two, these won’t have any provision for food. They will ply across Calcutta. The routes will be shortly worked out.”

The trams have pneumatic doors that can be operated from the motorman’s cabin. The system of the conductor ringing a bell is still there.

The government is trying to experiment with trams and explore ways to make them more exciting to ride with

an old-world feel, the transport official said. Since both are single-coach trams, they will run faster than other trams.

“The fare structure will be different…. We are trying to find out whether people are willing to pay a bit more for the comfort of an AC ride,” the official said.

The transport department has been trying to find ways to make the tram business lucrative. In a joint initiative with a private operator, the government leased out two trams to a company to serve lunch and dinner on wheels.

The response is encouraging and the transport department plans to lease out two more trams for such purpose, the official said. “When AC buses were introduced, passengers were initially a bit hesitant. But now they have caught on. We want to see what happens to AC trams.”