Another feather in Kerala’s hat! South Asia’s first water metro to set sail in Kochi on Tuesday

Prime Minister Narendra Modi will launch the water metro which will have boats operating on two routes initially.

BySreerag PS

Published Apr 24, 2023 | 7:16 PM Updated Apr 24, 2023 | 9:12 PM

Kochi Water Metro vessel sailing through the city's waterways. (Twitter/CMO Kerala)

In October 2015, the international airport in Kochi became the first fully solar-powered aerodrome in the world.

Eight years later on Tuesday, 25 April, Kochi will become the first city in South Asia to have a water metro.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who arrived in Kerala on Monday, will virtually inaugurate the water metro in Thiruvananthapuram, the state capital, along with a slew of other projects.

The water metro is intended to provide seamless connectivity between 10 islands and the mainland, Kerala’s commercial capital.

Floating jetties stabilise tidal variations, enabling easy embarkation and disembarkation. (Supplied)

Floating jetties stabilise tidal variations, enabling easy embarkation and disembarkation. (Supplied)

“The Kochi Water Metro would be a significant enhancement to Kochi’s infrastructure! It will be dedicated to the nation on 25th April,” read Narendra Modi’s Facebook post ahead of the inauguration.

The water metro will initially have two services, which will be scaled up later. The first two schedules will be Vypeen-Bolgatty-High Court and Vyttila-Kakkanad. The services will be between 7 am and 8 pm.

Boost to tourism

“This is an extremely proud and happy moment for us as the project is getting inaugurated tomorrow,” Loknath Behera, the managing director of Kochi Metro Rail Limited (KMRL), told South First on Monday.

The boats will be plying in two routes initially: Vypeen-Bolgatty-High Court and Vyttila-Kakkanad. (Twitter/CMO Kerala)

The boats will be plying in two routes initially: Vypeen-Bolgatty-High Court and Vyttila-Kakkanad. (Twitter/CMO Kerala)

Commuters have been awaiting the rollout of the water metro services as the project is expected to significantly decongest the city’s roads.

Apart from the benefits of local commutes, transportation through picturesque waterways is expected to boost Kochi’s tourism potential, and make it a global city.

Behera said the Vypeen-Bolgatty-High Court schedule will operate from 26 April, while the Vyttila-Kakkanad service will begin the following day.

“Ideally, the water metro connects the major islands around Kochi we will have our services to 10 main islands which will help the islanders reach the mainland,” he added.

The boats will cut down travel time as well. Currently a bus takes 45-60 minutes to reach Kakkanad, covering a distance of 13 km.

The water metro will reach Kakkanad from the Mobility Hub at Vyttila in 23 minutes.

Comfort first

According to KMRL’s statement, the project comprises a total of fifteen 15 identified routes connecting 38 jetties across 10 island communities and two boatyards, covering a total network area of 78 km.

The electric, hybrid boats were constructed at the Cochin Shipyard. (Supplied)

The electric, hybrid boats were constructed at the Cochin Shipyard. (Supplied)

The ₹747-crore project comes with state-of-the-art technology that helps seamless transportation in the city’s waterways.

The electrically-propelled vessels are fully airconditioned and will have large glass windows allowing commuters to view the scenic beauty of Kochi.

The project is proposed to have a total of 78 boats, of which 55 will have a capacity of 100 passengers each. Another 53 with a capacity of 50 passengers will be sailing the shallow waters.

Floating jetties are one of the major highlights of Kochi’s Water Metro.  These pontoons stabilise the tidal variation, enabling easy embarkation and disembarkation. It will be more helpful for the physically challenged and the elderly.

“We are introducing floating pontoons in the country and it is completely disabled-friendly. Even a wheelchair-bound person can travel in the water metro on his/her own without seeking any external help,” Behera, the former state police chief, said.

He also added that the KMRL has given utmost importance to the safety and security of the passengers and there are systems in place to ensure there is no overcrowding.

“The electric hybrid boats were built at the Cochin Shipyard as part of the Make in India initiative. The Kochi Water Metro received major international recognition last November when it won the Gussies Electric Boat Award-2022,” Behera added.

A dream project: Pinarayi 

Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan on Saturday termed the Kochi Water Metro a “dream project” of the state that would accelerate the growth and development of Kochi.

The water metro is expected to boost Kochi's tourism potential. (Twitter/CMO Kerala)

The water metro is expected to boost Kochi’s tourism potential. (Twitter/CMO Kerala)

“With the launching of the flagship project set up at a cost of ₹1,136.83 crore in the port city, one more assurance given to the people of the state by the LDF government is being fulfilled,” Vijayan said in a Facebook post.

In a tweet, he said exciting times are ahead for the southern state’s transport and tourism sectors.

“The world-class #KochiWaterMetro is setting sail! It is Kerala’s dream project connecting 10 islands in and around Kochi. KWM with 78 electric boats & 38 terminals cost 1,136.83 crores, funded by GoK & KfW,” he tweeted.

KfW (Kreditanstault fur Weideraufbou) is a German funding agency.

The cost-effective and secure journey in air-conditioned boats would help people to reach their respective destinations without being stuck in traffic snarls, he said.

The boats will have a maximum speed of 22 kmph, but will mostly be sailing at 15 kmph.

Passengers can travel in both the Kochi metro and water metro using the “Kochi1″ card. They can also book the tickets digitally, the chief minister added.

Tickets could be bought at the terminals as well. The ticket fare will range between ₹20 and ₹40.

“Initially there will be 23 boats. We have so far received nine boats from Cochin Shipyard and we are expecting the rest of the boats at the earliest,” Behera said.

“Construction works are underway at several terminals and when it is over we will begin services to other islands as well,” he added.

The KMRL, the operating agency, has also launched a rescue-cum-work boat, which sails at double the speed of the passenger boats. Two more rescue boats will be launched soon.