Kolkata to get banquet and cafeteria trams

Kolkata (IANS): Facing annual losses of Rs.200 crore, the 132-year-old Calcutta Tramways Company, which runs the fleet of heritage vehicles long identified with the metropolis, is mulling a host of new proposals including leasing out its land and setting up banquet and cafeteria trams to revive its fortunes.

“While our revenue is just Rs.50 crore, our expenses exceed Rs.250 crore leaving us with an annual loss of Rs.200 crore each year. The only way to reduce this loss is to lease out the vast tract of idle land for public utilities like parking lots, hospitals, etc,” CTC chairman Shantilal Jain said Tuesday.

“The CTC has nearly 43 acres of land in eight of its depots spread across the city. We have sent the proposal for the lease to the (West Bengal) government and a decision is expected soon,” he said.

Participating in an interactive session organised by the Bengal Chamber of Commerce and Industries, Jain said the company is in process of introducing “banquet and cafeteria trams” as well as introducing tracks in satellite Salt Lake town.

“We currently operate around 32 km of track length and are in the process of introducing tram services in Rajarhat, Bantala and New Town,” said Jain adding that the banquet and cafeteria trams might involve private participation.

The other proposals made to rev up the services include introduction of single bogie and air-conditioned trams as well as special trams covering the heritage sites in the city. The AC trams are likely to be introduced by March this year.

The CTC which also runs buses, will be acquiring 100 more of the vehicles soon.

It is also in talks with foreign tram companies for organising an international convention to spread awareness about the heritage transport service.

Ever since the first horse-drawn tram of the city rolled out on metre gauge tracks on Feb 24, 1873, the ‘heritage wheels’ have virtually become a logo of Kolkata.

Formed in 1880 and registered in London on Dec 22 that year, the CTC was taken over by the West Bengal government in the 1970s.