Rail News


September 06 , 2021

Kolkata's 'fairy tale' trams, once essential, are now a neglected relic

Straits Times 
SEP 3, 2021 (KOLKATA, India)

(NYTIMES) - The tram rattled along College Street, passing dozens of book stalls and announcing itself with the quaint chime of a bell. A gentle breeze from its open windows and antique ceiling fans cut the humid summer heat.

Sounds and smells from the streets wafted in - fresh fish splayed out on the sidewalk, the muezzins' call to prayer - as the tram passed vegetable wagons and ornate colonial buildings.

"You get all the flavours of Calcutta here, so it's the best way to travel," said a medical student, Megha Roy, riding the tram with two friends. She used the Anglicised version of Kolkata, which residents deploy interchangeably with its current spelling and pronunciation.

The three friends had jumped on board spontaneously, with no clear idea of where the tram was going or when it was scheduled to get there. But it did not really matter. The ride itself was an unexpected treat.

"It's like a fairy tale," Ms Roy said.

But in reality, Kolkata's trams - the first in Asia and the last still operating in India - are in trouble.


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