Tram routes leading to and from the 136-year-old historic Dalhousie tram depot in the central business district are all set to close down for at least three years to facilitate the construction work for the East West Metro Corridor.
“In June or July 2017 we will start constructing tunnels below Dalhousie Square. We have requested the state transport department to discontinue tram services in that locality and they have accepted it. Our work will continue at least for three years,” said Biswanath Dewanjee, the chief engineer of Kolkata Metro Railway Corporation Ltd (KMRCL) — the nodal agency of the East West Metro Corridor.
The city’s first commercial tram service was started on November 1, 1880 from Armenian Ghat to Sealdah on horse-drawn carriages through Strand Road, Dalhousie and the present BB Ganguly Street. Tram services on Strand Road have already been withdrawn. Although tram services on several routes in different corners of the city have been stopped in the last two decades, trams have been running to and from the Dalhousie depot in the last 136 years.
RITES, a consultancy firm under the Indian Railways, had calculated the estimated loss of the Calcutta Tramways Company (CTC) for these three years and pegged it at around Rs 96 crore. Sources said KMRCL had agreed to make a onetime payment of only Rs 9 crore and CTC officials also accepted it.
“At present there are 30 trips on seven routes that run to and from the Dalhousie tram depot. We know that passengers on these routes will face inconvenience once we stop the services. But we have accepted the request for a greater cause,” said a senior CTC official.
But a section of CTC officials questioned the fate of services to and from this historic tram depot once construction work on the East West Metro Corridor is over.
“Tram services on several routes have been withdrawn in the past few years. The authorities had claimed this was temporary but most of these services were not restored. We doubt services from the Dalhousie depot will be restored once they are stopped. Further, the services are being discontinued at a time when the traffic department of Kolkata Police is putting pressure on us for years to withdraw tram services in and around the central business district of the city,” said a CTC official.