Centre looks at trams as transport alternative

Centre looks at trams as transport alternative

The Union government has asked the governments of several states to introduce tram service like in Kolkata as an environment-friendly mode of transport, said Union Urban Development Secretary Sudhir Krishna on Saturday. 

The senior bureaucrat is in Kolkata to take stock of projects under the Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission (JNNURM).

“We have asked a number of states to take a fresh look at trams,” he said, pointing out that the Institute of Urban Transport (IUT) carried out a detailed study of Kolkata’s trams and found them to be a useful service. The institute conducted the study in 2012 and found reviving trams not just feasible but also eco-friendly and cheaper.

Although Krishna did not elaborate on the plan, sources said that following the IUT report, the ministry has asked metropolitan cities like Mumbai, Delhi and Chennai to consider reintroducing trams, besides suggesting new networks in Bangalore, Hyderabad and Pune. The ministry has asked the metro cities to undertake studies to assess viability of the project. 

Plans are also on to revive and improve the existing tram network in Kolkata.

Trams used to be operational in Mumbai, Delhi, Patna, Kanpur, Nasik and Chennai, although currently they are currently active only in Kolkata, where it was introduced in 1902 and is the oldest operating electric tram network in Asia.

“The tram has regained tremendous significance worldwide since the oil crisis of the 1970s. Even Western nations that abolished tramways in the 1950s are bringing back upgraded versions of trams. The IUT study revealed that introducing a light rail transport system in Delhi as part of an integrated city-wide network would be successful. The ministry is confident the model can be replicated even in other metros,” said an official. 

While states like Karnataka, Maharashtra and Tamil Nadu are toying with the idea, the Municipal Corporation of Delhi is reported to have mooted a plan to reintroduce trams in Chandni Chowk. “Trams were an important mode of transport in the area till the early 1960s. Trams are eco-friendly and cheap to operate, making them viable for areas where it’s difficult to develop Metro rail network,” said an official.

According to officials, the Urban Development Ministry has also suggested reintroducing trams along Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) corridors. 

“The ministry finds that although trams suffered due to several reasons, including lack of necessary upgrades and curtailing of routes after the introduction of Metro rail, they can be used as feeder services to Metros or along BRT corridors,” said an official.

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