AC Tram Rides Onto Kolkatas Streets

The new single coach has become a star attraction, with four times the usual footfall
A Street View of the AC Tram
A Street View of the AC Tram

India&rsquos only tram system&mdashand an iconic part of Kolkata&rsquos old world charm&mdashjust got cooler. Calcutta Tramways has launched the city&rsquos first air-conditioned tram car, complete with sleek pneumatic doors. The refurbished 32-seater single coach operates in one of the city&rsquos oldest, most busy traffic routes, connecting Shyambazar and Esplanade. Travelling at a gentle 35kmph, it makes six round trips a day.

Kolkata has a speedy and affordable slew of public transport options&mdashthink auto, bus, Metro and taxi cabs&mdashmaking the slower tram an unfortunate last option for most city-dwellers. Add the sweltering summer heat into the mixture, and you can generally see only tourists and the old hopping in for a ride. With the introduction of the AC tram, however, footfalls are at an all-time high. Modestly priced at Rs. 20 per seat, the new tram is seeing collections up to Rs. 8,000 (about 400 people) per day, while the non-AC variants usually bring in less than half the amount.

This tram is also larger than its older brethren, clocking in at 35 feet. However, it isn&rsquot the first to be air-conditioned&mdashthe city saw the opening of a fine-dining restaurant-on-wheels last year, while two AC coaches offering heritage tours were launched in 2013.

In a recent report in The Times of India, a WB transport corporation official said that no other tram has seen the degree of buzz (and revenue) that this one AC coach has generated since its introduction. Talks are in place of introducing similar coaches for regular commute across other routes. The boosted income could help subsidise older bogeys, which currently operate at a loss.

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