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KOLKATA: The discontinued tram routes in Kolkata at various parts of the city may be revived for trolley buses that will be introduced by West Bengal Transport Corporation (WBTC) in a few months’ time. Because of its hybrid avatar, a trolley bus can run by drawing electricity from overhead cables like a tram or operate on batteries like an electric bus.
Trolley bus, also called trackless trolley, is a vehicle operated on the streets on rubber tires and powered by electricity drawn from two overhead wires by trolley poles.
In a symposium on sustainable transportation by SwitchON Foundation, WBTC MD RVS Kapur said, “If the trolley bus we are introducing becomes a success, the city’s existing tram network will be bolstered and revival of the tram will be feasible. Trolley buses are not to replace trams, but will play a complementary role. ”
The first lot of trolley buses will be supplied by a Ukrainian company.
The trolley bus also fits WBTC’s ambition of getting its entire fleet electric by completely phasing out diesel buses. Tram tracks in the city have been de-reserved by concretizing them and merging them with the carriageway. This means trolley buses can use the overhead wires and also run on the road below. “The bus battery will be charged when the bus will be on the move by drawing power from the overhead cables. Since the buses will run on inflated tires, they can go where tram tracks don’t exist anymore, ”said a WBTC official.
Earlier, a German company called Deutsche Geselleschaft Fur Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ), which works on capacity building, carried out a feasibility study and submitted its report. “Thanks to the oldest surviving tram network of the city, we have an excellent network of overhead cables with a good set of experienced engineers handling the oldest EVs (trams). This system must be leveraged to its optimum possibility, ”said Kapur.
Hybrid trolley buses allow for a majority of the line to be placed under cable. But with an option for a battery to cover distances where setting up cables is unfeasible, trolley buses enjoy greater flexibility.
Trolley trucks, which are also gaining traction worldwide, operate under the same principle.

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