After 20 years, West Bengal Transport Corporation to hire 44 tram drivers

KOLKATA: Almost after two decades, West Bengal Transport Corporation (formerly Calcutta Tram Company) is set to fill up the posts of 44 tram drivers by imparting training to foremen and linesmen of the company, revealed the affidavit filed by WBTC managing director, RVS Kapur, in response to the public interest litigation filed by advocate Sulagna Mukherjee.
In the petition, Mukherjee said, "Till September 2019, no tram driver has been employed or recruited in the past 20 years either under CTC or WBCTC. It further appeared that as on September 12, 2019, there were 339 tram conductors and 143 drivers but now the numbers reduced to 208 and 65 respectively. It is, therefore, apparent, the respondent authorities are not interested in keeping the tramways alive. Naturally, all the existing 65 tram drivers are nearing their retirement age and with no fresh recruitment in the horizon, the tramways will die a natural death." Refuting Mukherjee's claim, Kapur, in his affidavit, said that 44 trams drivers are now undergoing practical training after theoretical training. All these tram drivers are likely to start operation on the completion of the training. "Since driving a tram is a specialised job, drivers cannot be hired from outside. They need to be recruited from the existing set of employees only," Kapur added in the affidavit.

Training and promotion to the driver post assume a huge significance.
"Lack of drivers was one of the major impediments to running as many trams as possible. So, trams run on some routes symbolically. Unless regular services are ensured, commuters will not rely on trams as public transport," said Calcutta Tram Users Association president, Debasish Bhattacharya.

Mukherjee in her petition stated that numerous trams have been lying defunct in Tollygunge, Ballygunge, Kalighat and Kidderpore depots as their connections with Central Workshop at Nonapukur got severed off. So, the repair works cannot be done alternatively in the depots. Significantly, all these tram cars could have run easily after necessary repairs.
In his affidavit, Kapur affirmed that trams from the southern part of the city can be taken to Nonapukur workshop via Mominpur, Watgunge, Esplanade and Wellington routes only after July 2025 when Rail Vikas Nigam Limited is scheduled to hand the line back to WBTC. The tram service in the stretch was suspended due to the construction of a part of the Joka-Esplanade Metro.

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