Calcutta 1997 - CALBOURNE Tram

The Melbourne Calcutta Tramways Friendship continued to grow. Roberto D'Andrea and Mick Douglas arrived in Calcutta in late September just 1 year after the first Calcutta visit, and  6 months after Bondhu Friendship W Class Tram 1036 had tracked the Melbourne Tramways for 2 months in February-March 1997. The Calcutta Tramways Company (CTC) returned the compliment to tramjatrans from Melbourne when Calbourne rolled out of Belgatchia Depot on the 8th of October 1997. For 8 weeks it toured on all of Calcutta’s tram routes and visited workshops and depots - open to all.

Mick and Roberto decorated and painted Tram 609 with a group of enthusiastic trammies from the Belgatchia Depot. Calcuttans where drawn to the tram we named 'Calbourne'. A mix of our two tram cities names, Calcutta and Melbourne - Calbourne. Passengers entered the tram through the goddess Durga’s eyes. Tram conductors from both cities gave passengers specially designed daily tickets: The Mother Earth‚ Clean Air‚ Free Flowing Trams was printed on each of the tickets, one side with smiling W Class Tram, the other with a handsome Calcutta tramcar.

Calbourne’s interior was colourfully adorned. Long Live Trams, two rare tramway survivors on display with photos of tram passengers, trammies & the trams that track their way through our parklands, along narrow tram streets that form busy shopping strips, infront of colonial parliamentary buildings & close by zoos & huge cricket stadiums. From Kidderpore to Carlton, Behala to Bundoora, Rajabazzar to Richmond, Kalighat to Collingwood, Lenin Sarani to Lygon St & along Mahatma Gandhi Road to St Kilda Beach.

Roberto joins with CTC trammies and stays on-board Calbourne tram co-hosting the exhibition as a conductor for 8 weeks. Calbourne tracks all CTC tram routes and visits all depots and the Nonapukur Tram Workshops. This all took place during the Durga Puja Festival. A Hindu celebration for the goddess mother Durga that sees millions of Calcuttans from on the streets.


From Belgatchia Depot Calbourne tracked along College Street and Rabindra Sarani in the narrow streeted north. Beautiful architecture. Stopped often at the Shambazzar Goompty and tracked along the not often used Galiff Street line. Calbourne also tracked along the tram 'right of way' APC Bose Road.

Next to Rajabazzar Depot. Calbourne tracked along Mahatma Gandhi Road from Sealdah Station to the Howrah Bridge Terminus. This was my favourite tram route through a famous old area called Chitpur. From the Esplanade and BBD Bagh Calbourne's on the Rajabazzar trams route 17 to the newer suburb of Bidhan Nagar, again in the north.

Next to the dockside Kidderpore Tram Depot for Calbourne. From here she tracks the handsome parkland tram-line through the Maidan. From the Esplanade Kidderpore Depot trams track the longest of the CTCs tram-lines to Behala and Joka. Calbourne journeys this long line which terminates in a lush green rural setting at Joka.

Next to Tollygunge Depot in South Calcutta. Calbourne tracks the Tollygunge - Ballygunge line along Rash Behari Avenue and often runs past Kalighat Depot to the Esplanade via Alipore and the Maidan. The architecture around Kalighat has a 1920s art deco feel. Tram lines with 'right of way' reservations.

From Kalighat Depot Calbourne did the shorter run to the Esplanade via Alipore, The Zoo and the maidan. 

Next for Calbourne was the Gariahat Depot lines along Syed Amir Ali Avenue past Park Circus Depot to AJC Bose Road. Calbourne takes a left turn at Moulali Junction tracking along Lenin Sarani where the tram line runs along the kerb-side in each direction to and from The Esplanade.

Visits to the Nonapukur Workshops. A fascinating tram building and maintenance workshops that still does everything from melting metal to electrical, wheel and body shop repairs.

And finally to the Park Circus Tram Depot. In 1997 of all depots in Calcutta, Park Circus reminds me most of South Melbourne Depot. Eccentric trammies and many tram routes. Park Circus trams track many of the inner north and inner south lines. Elliot Road between Nonapukur Workshops and Rafi Ahmed Kidwai Rd is especially narrow. Beautiful tram line that turns left at Wellington Junction into Lenin Sarani and onto the Esplanade Terminus.