Friday, March 31

Tram tracks repair in Belgachhia revives hope of route resurrection

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The transport department has begun repairs of tram tracks on RG Kar bridge and Canal Bridge, reviving hopes that the services on the route commissioned in 1903 may resume soon. The move has indicated that the government may continue with the eco-friendly mode of transport, at least in some pockets of the city, contrary to the belief among tram enthusiasts that the department may be trying to gradually discontinue with them.

The tram services from Belgachhia, the third oldest route, were withdrawn in January last year after the transport department started concretizing the tracks. But they had to discontinue midway as a precautionary measure after the collapse of Majerhat bridge. The tracks were levelled before Durga Puja last year to prevent accidents.

The work on concretizing the tracks on RG Kar bridge and Canal Bridge resumed on Sunday and is expected to conclude by May 1. The concrete has been dug up and workers are busy removing debris, after which new tracks will be laid. “We will be working on almost a kilometre of tracks here. First, we will remove the concrete used to level the tracks and then lay down the tracks anew before tram services are resumed,” said an official of Adhunik Construction which is carrying out the work.

According to a senior transport department official, the Belgachhia-Esplanade and the Belgachhia-Howrah routes are among the busiest in the city. He also said the services were discontinued on these routes because of concretization following the Majerhat bridge collapse and not due to lack of demand. “We would run at least six pairs of trams every day, among the highest in the city. The last tram for Esplanade would leave the depot after 10pm,” the official added.

Officials said the tram services connecting Belgachhia started in 1902, the third oldest route after electrification of trams. The depot initially had three gates, two of which were used by trams to enter and one to exit. The two gates were done away with when work on the Dum Dum-Tollygunge Metro route started.

A survey among one-and-ahalf thousand people from Kolkata showed they viewed the tram as a safe, eco-friendly and economic mode of transport. The respondents, however, added that in order to attract more commuters, trams needed immediate infrastructure and technological upgrade and a larger network to cater to a wider population.

Over the years, CTC has made several efforts to revive the organization — organizing heritage tours to converting tramcars into restaurants and other entertainment zones. A few years ago, there was also an effort to pitch trams for the Unesco heritage tag. Two weeks ago, the transport department also started two singlecar AC trams.

Source: Times of India

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