Mayor Firhad Hakim’s assertion at C40 World Mayors Summit in Copenhagen, where he said trams will play an important role in shifting Kolkata’s transportation system to electric mode by 2030, has revived hopes of environmentalists and tram lovers in the city.
The mayor, in his acceptance speech, had said trams were eco-friendly and the state government was already working towards modernising the tram network. “The West Bengal Transport Corporation has formulated a project with time-bound schedule for manufacturing of single coach non-AC and AC trams with better look and reliability. Single coach tram will make its movement faster and city less congested,” said Hakim.
Officials of the transport department said private agencies were already working with them for improvement of tram technology and work at the Nonapukur workshop.
“Already, 10 single-bogey AC tram cars have been built indigenously. Many more are being built. We are in touch with the research institutes on how to run tram without any conflict with the city’s mobility pattern. The moment the Metro work, which has disrupted the tram-network of the city, is over, the full network of trams will be resumed to service,” said an official of the transport department.
Tram design is undergoing a metamorphosis with more single-bogey trams hitting the tracks for energy-efficiency and faster mobility. The coaches of several defunct trams are being used to make the new ones. Officials insisted they had adequate old brass covers for the control system and spare parts are being manufactured at the Nonapukur workshop.
“We are expecting development of lighter, energy-efficient and faster tram cars without changing the controller system. We have already started manufacturing the spare parts of the controller system by using the old brass-cover, which are there in abundance at Nonapukur Central Workshop,” said a senior tram-workshop official.
Tram enthusiasts in the city were enthused by the mayor’s assertions but insisted the government must show seriousness in reviving old routes where trams have been discontinued for various reasons. Calcutta Tram Users’ Association has also been demanding introduction of tram routes to act as feeders to new Metro routes, synchronising tram timings with school timing and construction of tram platforms for the safety of passengers.
“We urge the government to revive the tram system to fight pollution and climate change. In several cities across the world, trams are now running on solar power to become absolutely carbon neutral. Kolkata once had a robust tram system, but they are being taken off the routes now. Routes have shrunk and trams are plying on a very few routes,” said Roberto D Andrea, tram conductor in Melbourne and founder of Tramjatra.
Melbourne and Kolkata are two cities outside Europe that have used trams continuously since the 19th century. This long and unbroken relationship spawned Tramjatra — a friendship society that started in 1996.
Source: Times of India