Come February, 150 years of Kolkata tram to be celebrated by users 

The Tramjatra, amoving tram carnival, will focus on green mobility and Kolkata’s tram legacy.

Updated - December 13, 2022 06:32 pm IST

Published - December 13, 2022 11:29 am IST - Kolkata

A tram service on the busy Dalhousie Square in Kolkata. File photo

A tram service on the busy Dalhousie Square in Kolkata. File photo | Photo Credit: Arunangsu Roy Chowdhury

Come February, Kolkata will witness an event that will celebrate 150 years of its iconic tram and renew hope that this non-polluting mode of transport does not become entirely extinct.

Tramjatra (tram’s journey) is a moving tram carnival that was started back in 1996 jointly by enthusiasts from Melbourne and Kolkata. At the time, Kolkata, the only Indian city where the tram still runs, was home to about two dozen routes. Today the number of routes that remain operational has shrunk to just two. The 2023 event, therefore, will be more about impressing the West Bengal government to preserve the tram.

“Tramjatra is essentially an international collaboration of trammies, artists, environmentalists, and tram-loving communities. It will continue for around a week and will seek to educate people, particularly the younger generation, about climate change, air pollution, and sustainable development objectives with a focus on green mobility and Kolkata’s tram legacy,” said filmmaker Mahadeb Shi, general secretary of Calcutta Tram Users’ Association and the creative director of Tramjatra-23.

“The theme of the 2023 Tramjatra will be Heritage, Clean Air and Green Mobility. For the celebrations, which will begin on February 24, we intend to paint three trams. The first would look like one of the historic trams used in the early years. The second would emphasise the dangers posed by climate change and the necessity of sustainability. The third would depict a contemporary tram in a different region of the world. For five days, these festive trams will travel across the city, displaying artwork. Local youth will give musical and theatrical performances inside the moving trams,” Mr. Shi said.

One of the chief attractions of the event is Roberto D’Andrea, a retired tram conductor from Melbourne, who also happens to be the festival’s creator. This year too, he is likely to be the chief host. The event is to be supported by the West Bengal Transport Corporation and is also to be attended by 25 delegates from Germany.

“These would be the main four slogans for the Tramjatra: Love the Tram; Save the Earth; Tram is the Future of Kolkata; and Let’s Work Together to Stop Global Warming. We will publish a white paper stressing on the tram’s relevance as a mode of public transport in the city. It will include steps to ensure its long-term viability, including optimum revenue collection and upgradation of the system,” Mr. Shi said.

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