History of Calcutta Tram Company

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Tram Transport in Calcutta – The only city in India which has a public tram service still in continuance.

Tram Transport in India was established by the British in the 19th century.
Discontinued in most Indian cities between 1930 and 1960, as of now Calcutta has the only public tram service in the country.

Horse-drawn trams were introduced in India in the early 19th century. The first electric tram service was started in *Madras in 1895. Electric trams were subsequently introduced in *Calcutta (1873), *Bombay (1907), *Cawnpore (1907) and *Delhi (1908).

(*Note – Madras is now known as Chennai, Bombay is Mumbai, Cawnpore is Kanpur, Delhi is New Delhi and Calcutta is Kolkata)
In the year 1873,the first attempt to run a tramways service in Calcutta began between Sealdah and Armenian Ghat Street of route length 2.4 mile was made on Feb 24 The service was not adequately patronised and was wound up on Nov 20.

The Formation and Registration of The Calcutta Tramways Company Limited:

In the year 1880, The Calcutta Tramways co ltd was formed and registered in London on 22nd December. Meter -gauge horse-drawn tram track between Sealdah to Armenian Ghat via Bowbazar Street, Dalhousie Sq. Customs House and Strand Road was laid . The route was inaugurated on 1st nov 1880.
From then on the progress of the tramways service was developed rapidly as they became very popular transport for city transit during those days (not now unfortunately).
The prime reason was that during those days, only 1% of the population of Calcutta could afford to travel in their private cars. There were less or say no other modes of transport available during those days. So these tram cars were very popular among the people for transit and also the fare was also low (its low even now).See below the timeline of the tram development from past in a nutshell:

1882 :- Steam locomotives were deployed experimentally to haul tramcars. By the end of the nineteenth century the Company owned 186 tramcars, 1000 horses, 7 steam locomotives and 19 miles of tram tracks.

1900 :- Electrification of Tramways and simultaneous reconstruction of tracks to the standard gauge (4′-8½ ”) was taken up. By the end of 1905 the entire system was converted to an electric traction.

1905 :- Howrah station to Bandhaghat section for tramways was opened in June. Lines to Sibpur via G.T. Road was made ready in 1908.

1943 :- The Calcutta system was connected with Howrah section through the new Howrah bridge in Feb with this extension , the total track length reached 42.09 miles (67.73Kms).

1951 :-The Govt. of West Bengal entered into an agreement with the Calcutta Tramways Co and the Calcutta Tramways Act, 1951 was enacted . The Govt took over all rights with regard to Tramways and reserved the right to purchase the system on 1st Jan, 1972 or any time thereafter giving two years notice.

1967 :- The Govt of West Bengal passed the Calcutta Tramways Company (Taking Over of Management ) Act, 1967 and took over the management on 19th July 1967. On November 8th, 1976 the Calcutta Tramways (Acquisition of Undertaking) Ordinance , 1976 was promulgated under which the Company with all its assets vested with the government.

1970 :-The Howrah sections were closed down in Oct 1970 and Dec 1971/1973 Nimtala Ghat route was closed down in May 1973. The total track length was reduced to 38.58 miles (62.08kms).

1985 :-On April 17, extension of track was completed connecting Maniktala to Ultadanga Station via Maniktala Main road (3.7 kms) This is the first Tramways extension since 1947.

1986 :- On Dec 31 further extension of tram track from Behala to Joka was completed.

An old picture of an horse driven tram in Calcutta in the year 1873.

An old picture of an horse driven tram in Calcutta in the year 1873.

Street scene. Tram cars were popular as city transit in those days.

Street scene. Tram cars were popular as city transit in those days.

Street scene. Tram cars were popular as city transit in those days.

Street scene. Tram cars were popular as city transit in those days.

Another Tram Terminus scene in old Calcutta.

Another Tram Terminus scene in old Calcutta.

The picture showing a man in the year probably in the year 1945 or 46 trying to get into the Tram from window to get a seat. From the image you can easily know how the trams were popular during those days.

The picture showing a man in the year probably in the year 1945 or 46 trying to get into the Tram from window to get a seat. From the image you can easily know how the trams were popular during those days.

Looking south down Chowringee Road from tram terminus. Maidan is on right. Calcutta, 1944.

Looking south down Chowringee Road from tram terminus. Maidan is on right. Calcutta, 1944.

Tram terminus at Esplande Row East and former Chowringee. First car, first class; second car, second class.

Tram terminus at Esplande Row East and former Chowringee. First car, first class; second car, second class.

Approach towards the west side of the Howrah Bridge in 1944. No Trams can be seen today on Howrah Bridge as they are discontinued in that route because of heavy traffic.

Approach towards the west side of the Howrah Bridge in 1944. No Trams can be seen today on Howrah Bridge as they are discontinued in that route because of heavy traffic.

The Trams filled with almost full passengers were seen only in those days. Today the Trams runs empty mostly with one fixed passenger, i.e. "the conductor."

The Trams filled with almost full passengers were seen only in those days. Today the Trams runs empty mostly with one fixed passenger, i.e. “the conductor.”

Chowringee and tram terminus from Calcutta Statesman editorial.

Chowringee and tram terminus from Calcutta Statesman editorial.

Tram cars in the past Calcutta

Tram cars in the past Calcutta

Kolkata 2018

Kolkata 2018

Kolkata 2018

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