The city of joy has a long history with this old environmentally friendly transport system. Kolkata and trams are like one soul in two bodies. It is really hard for someone to miss out on trams when they are visiting Kolkata. The tram system in Kolkata is the oldest electric tram system in Asia, still the only running network in India. The tram museum was founded to show the history of the icon of Kolkata.
If you are here in Kolkata, and curious about this classic transport system then you don’t have to go anywhere. A museum was founded in 2014, exclusively for trams, has been showcasing the importance of trams in Kolkata. The museum called ‘Smaranika’ is housed within a vintage tram which was built-in 1938. This museum does not only give you an amazing feeling but also gives you some unknown knowledge and facts about the tram system in Kolkata.
History of Trams in Kolkata
The tram service had started in Kolkata in the late 19th century by horse-drawn trams. The first horse-drawn tram ran 3.9 km between Sealdah and Armenian Ghat Street in 1873. However, the service was discontinued later the same year. A few years later, in 1880, once again the tram service had started with the registration of The Calcutta Tramway Company.
The electrification of the tramway had begun in 1900. The first electric tramcar in India ran from Esplanade to Kidderpore on 27th March 1902. The Calcutta Tramways Act was passed by the Government of West Bengal in 1967. However, the tram services started decreasing when several routes started shutting down. In 1973, after Howrah Station terminus was realigned, the total length of the track was now reduced to 61.2km.
The Calcutta Tramways Company introduced bus services in 1992 with a fleet of 40 buses. The system had degraded by the 1990s, and the Minister of Transport planned to close the network. But the Melbourne tram conductor Roberto D’Andrea befriended fellow Calcutta conductors during a visit in 1994. When he heard about that, he suggested an art project to decorate the trams. The project was increased public awareness of the network at that time.
Now tram network had reduced to only six lines currently operating due to poor maintenance, financial struggle, and expansion of Kolkata Metro. There is only 35 tramcar in operation out of 257. There have been occasionally talks of either shutting down the network completely or limiting the operations of the system. Through some plans have been proposed to refurbish stock and wires. There have also been proposed to replace the current double coach SLC trams with new single coach trams.
Read about the best museums in Kolkata.
The museum is managed by the Waste Bengal State Corporation which was previously known as Calcutta Tram Company. The name ‘Smaranika’ means remembrance. The little museum pays the tribute to the century-old tramcar network system. A city like Kolkata has a lot of museums but this one can steal someone’s heart at first glance. Instead of the heavy brick building, the tram museum is located inside a vintage tram that was built in 1938. More interesting thing is, you need to get a ticket from the museum’s conductor who is decked in proper uniform issuing tickets. The tickets are also decorated as tram tickets.
Inside the decorated vintage tram, the place is divided into two sections. One side of the place has a little cafeteria and another side showcases the museum. You can find artifacts at the museum include photographs, old tickets, and some tram models like Horse-drawn trams, Watering tramcars, OmniBus, etc. The museum also shows the history of trams all over the world.
Time and Entry Fee
1:00 PM – 8:00 PM (Except Thursdays)
Entry Fee – 10 INR
How to Reach
The Tram Museum is located at 6, Sidhu Kanhu Dahar, Maidan. The museum is easily accessible by any transport, especially by the metro cause the Esplanade Metro Station is really near to this place.
Ruchira Sarkar is the founder of Hey Calcutta! An aspiring blogger and a travel enthusiast. She created this website to represent the real flavour of Kolkata and Bengali culture. Besides this blog, she typically loves books, food, and music.