Friday, April 15, 2011

INDIA - Calcutta Tramways sacrificed

Five years ago, the depot is located at Kalighat, a suburb of Kolkata [Calcutta], was one of the busiest in the city. Trams then circulating on three lines, which covered about 16 km. Today there is only one tram that cruises painfully three kilometers between the Kalighat Tollygunge [south of the city].

This tram was traveling on rails embedded in large grassy spaces reserved for it. But in 2004, these spaces have been removed to make room for cars and buses. Now the tram ride in the middle of the road and passengers must make their way to their peril to catch one. "Why do people risk their lives so they catch a tram?" Application Manik Ghosh, who works at the Calcutta Tramways Company for over thirty years.

Each tram that connects to Kalighat Tollygunge now carries a mere ten to fifteen people even during peak hours, when only one car can normally accommodate over 150 passengers, he says. Despite repeated requests from employees of the tram lines have not returned to their lane, something that would have facilitated the rise of passengers.

Result: in four years, ticket sales were down 42%, according to the annual statistics of West Bengal in 2008. The Calcutta Tramways Company began operations in 1880. The cars were then pulled by horses through the winding streets of the city. The system was electrified in 1905 and, forty years later, the network covered 67 km.

The Government of West Bengal has taken over the company in 1967 and this change has caused the decline of streetcars. Since then, only ten kilometers of track were added to the network and more than 32 have been decommissioned or closed "temporarily" for work. The arrival of the subway has signed the beginning of the end for trams.

A section from the south of the city at its center was closed in 1980 and never reopened. Moreover, in the 1990s, the Calcutta Tramways Company was established bus services. Two years later, the transport minister at the time, Shyamal Chakravarti, announced: the tram will "die a natural death." The government has steadily increased the number of trams in traffic during peak hours.

Result: the number of passengers increased from 750,000 people a day in the early 1980s to 77,500 in 2008, even though the population has increased 67% during this period. Most of the 90 trams of Company date from 1940. Swarup Kumar Pal, the chief operating officer, confirms that merely to modernize the structure of cars.

"We had thought of importing new trams but had to abandon due to lack of funding. But the cars were recently equipped with a polycarbonate shell transparent, "he says. The new look has not really caught the public favor. Although its appearance has changed, the trams have not become more comfortable.

Cars store much heat, especially during the hot summers that knows the city. When it is pointed out to him, an official of the Company joking: "Yes, but passengers can see the stars at night." The last financial contribution towards the tramway dates back to 1982 and comes from Calcutta Urban Transport Project, a project supported World Bank.

This helps about 15 million helped purchase 200 trams and to add 10 km of railway network. But gradually, the funding dried up and interest in the revival of the tram too. The 25 km of additional track subway planned for 2011 may cause the disappearance of three tram depots. Sitangshu Sekhar Ghosh, who heads the Nonapur Workshop, where the old trams are repaired, deplores the government's disinterest.

"It is true that the tram is slow, he believes. In the grassy spaces reserved, even a tram 50 years running at a speed of 40 km / h while vehicles travel at an average speed of 12 km / h in Calcutta. "Lovers of tradition need not worry to be: the trams will be retained luxury rides for tourists in winter.

The lucky winners can do a circuit of seven hours in the city, while workers struggle to find space on buses.

No comments:

Post a Comment