Kochi becomes first city with water metro project

Sajeev Kumar | | Updated on: Jan 09, 2022
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The project envisages an integrated water transport system with 15 identified routes

With the launch of the first in a series of battery powered electric boats, Kochi has become India’s first city to have a water metro project.

Operated by Kochi Metro Rail Ltd, the project envisages an integrated water transport system with the development of 15 identified routes, connecting 10 islands along a network of routes that span 76 km with a fleet of 78 fast, electrically propelled hybrid ferries plying to 38 jetties.

More than one lakh islanders will benefit from the water metro, which is designed to be a socially inclusive transport system, rather than being just a transport service, with focus on improved livelihoods through commercial property development and tourism-based initiatives.

The project intended to introduce modern, energy efficient, environment friendly and safe boats with low wake and draft characteristics at a high frequency to increase ridership. It is expected to reduce pollution and traffic congestions in the city and ease access to business areas on the mainland for urban households situated along the Kochi lakeshore.

Easy commuting

Constructed at Cochin Shipyard Ltd, the fully air-conditioned boats with wide windows offer comfortable travel, with exotic view of the banks and backwaters, which would be an exciting experience to the passengers and tourists.

Kochi Metro Rail plans to operate 23 boats — each having a capacity to carry 100 passengers — this year on 15 routes. The headways would vary between 10 to 20 minutes across various routes at peak hours.

In the present transportation scenario, with the ferries having the average trip length of 8.9 km as compared to the average trip length of 11.3 km for public transport in general, the significance of the system for people’s commute between the islands and the mainland is further justified. Currently, the State Water Transport Department is the main operator in the water transport system in Kochi, besides various private operators and the localised ‘Jangar’ Ro-Ro services.

The project has a total cost of ₹819 crore and a major part is financed under Indo-German Financial Cooperation with a long-term loan agreement of 85 million euros (₹579 crore) with German funding agency, KfW (Kreditanstault fur Weideraufbou). The Kerala government will provide ₹102 crore and land acquisition cost of ₹72 crore. There is a PPP component of around ₹66 crore.

Officials claim that it is the first time in the world a centrally controlled integrated water transport system with a large fleet is powered by battery. It uses LTO batteries, which is the latest in battery technology with a capability for fast charging. The hull of aluminium catamaran water metro boats are designed for 10 knot speed which is considerably faster than the vintage system of boat, sources added.

Published on January 09, 2022

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