Will not discard trams, Bengal govt says on 150 years of service

Kolkata: The tramways carnival is back in Kolkata after a gap of four years, marking 150 years of the only operational tram system in the country.

Since 1996, ‘Tramjatra’, a global collaboration of tram enthusiasts, artists, environmentalists, and communities, have been in motion in Melbourne and Kolkata.

The festival highlights the value of trams through awareness campaigns for cultural heritage, healthy living and sustainability.

The theme of this year’s Tramjatra is Heritage, Clean Air and Green Mobility.

For five days, colourful trams will travel across the city displaying artworks, including paintings and posters with sustainable development goal themes.

Local youths will perform musical and theatrical performances inside moving trams, while Roberto D’ Andrea, a retired tram conductor from the Australian city would distribute specially designed ‘Tramjatra’ cards to passengers.

“We are unable to run trams on all the routes due to construction of flyovers and Metro Rail infrastructure. The government has no intention to abolish trams from Kolkata. We are discussing with Kolkata Municipal Corporation and Kolkata Police to run trams in some of the routes without affecting traffic,” Transport Minister Snehasis Chakraborty said.

Chakraborty, who was present at the inaugural function of the carnival at Esplanade terminus in central Kolkata on Friday, said that tram is “our emotion and is our heritage. I am here today not to give farewell to the Kolkata Tram. But due to increasing population and vehicles and with no expansion of roads, it is difficult to run trams everywhere.”

Plans are afoot to make a heritage route surrounding the Maidan area, he said.

Roberto D’Andrea, the retired tram conductor from Melbourne, said that coming from another ‘great tram city’, it is a privilege for him to be present at the 150th anniversary of Kolkata’s tram service.

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“We’ve come back with the privilege of celebrating heritage. We’ve come back with the desire to help lower the levels of air pollution,” he told PTI.

Filmmaker and singer Anjan Dutta was present at the event.

The first tram in the city rolled out on the tracks on February 24, 1873.

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