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Trams coming back to Chandni Chowk

Sowmiya Ashok
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In the 1960s, the humble tram plying on Delhi’s roads for over five decades came to a grinding halt for the simple reason that there was no more space for it. The growing vehicular traffic that threatened its existence then will now have to make way for it with the Lieutenant-Governor Najeeb Jung approving a proposal to bring back trams that were first introduced in Delhi on March 6, 1908, at the behest of Viceroy Lord Hardinge.

Part of a proposal for redevelopment of the Chandni Chowk area, Mr. Jung on Friday approved a design to introduce trams in the 3-km stretch that connects Subash Marg with Fatehpuri Masjid. The meeting was attended by officials from the Public Works Department, civic bodies and representatives from traders and non-motorised vehicle users of the area.

“The design involves a tram service that will connect the stretch linking Red Fort with Fatehpuri Masjid and will run alongside wide footpaths like the ones in Connaught Place,” said a senior Delhi Government official. “Vehicular traffic will be restricted in the area and only non-motorised vehicles will be allowed. However, there will be an emergency lane for ambulances,” said the official. With the design approved, the next step is to call the tender for it, the official added.

In its heyday, trams were the “most convenient and cheap means of conveyance” said Delhi chronicler R.V. Smith. “The tram tickets were priced at half an anna, one anna, two annas and four annas (the ticket for the longest route),” he said. “It used to move so slowly that people could easily jump off and buy biryani and snacks and then board the tram again,” he added.

The trams that ran from 1908 to 1963 connected Jama Masjid, Chandni Chowk and Sadar Bazaar and were just half as big as a Metro train, said Mr. Smith. “In 1921 the popularity of trams was at its peak but soon after there was a general strike in which the tramways were also badly affected and this probably led to rethinking and introduction of city buses for an expanding Delhi a decade or so later,” he said. “Trams were discontinued simply because there was no space for them due to the growing number of vehicles in Delhi.”

It will connect the stretch linking Red Fort to the Fatehpuri Masjid

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