The Kochi Metro Rail Limited (KMRL) is all set to implement the integrated water transport project at a cost of Rs.747 crore. The water metrro project is being implemented with financial assistance from the German Bank, KfW. Kochi is the first city in the country to have achieved such a milestone whereby water transport has been integrated as a feeder service to the metro.
It is also for the first time in India that such a significant level of investment is being brought in for improving water transport. The Water Metro Project would be a reality by 2020.
The proposed project envisages the development of 16 identified routes connecting 38 jetties across 10 island communities across a 76-km route network. The identified routes and jetties are represented in the figure. There are existing jetties where boat services from Kerala State Water Transport Corporation and private agencies are currently being operated.
The project intends to bring in a fleet of 78 fast, fuel efficient, air-conditioned ferries plying to 38 jetties, 18 of which will be developed as main boat hubs, while the remaining 20 will be minor jetties for transit services. More than 100,000 islanders are expected to benefit from the Water Metro, complete with modern watercrafts.
In May this year, the KMRL (Kochi Metro Rail Limited) awarded the contract to construct three major boat terminals for Kochi Water Metro Project to Marymatha Construction Company. The company will construct the Vyttila, Eroor and Kakkanad terminals, which are part of the phase-1 of the project.
On 05 September 2019, Cochin Shipyard Ltd. has announced that it has bagged the contract of Kochi Metro Rail Limited (KMRL) for building boats for the proposed Kochi Water Metro project. The CSL got the tender for 23 boats. The boats would be 24 meters long and have a capacity of 100 passengers.
The boats will be powered using an electric propulsion system equipped with high-quality Lithium Titanium Oxide batteries, a release issued by CSL said. “The batteries can be charged at the charging stations at various jetties using fast charging technology within 15 minutes.” “For emergency purposes and for achieving top speed, the propulsion system of boats shall also be connected through a hybrid system using power from diesel generators,” the release said.
The project shall be implemented to cater to daily ridership, which is estimated to increase 54,000 by 2025 and 86,000 by 2035. The project involves the renovation of jetties, boatyard and access roads around, providing parking facilities, maintenance dredging activities etc.
Kochi Water Metro Project is an integral link in the perceived Urban Metropolitan Transportation Model for Kochi, wherein the Metro rail, land feeder services, earmarked pavements for cycle and pedestrian movement and water metro would be integrated to ease the traffic congestion and reduce the pollution in the city.
Advantages of the Kochi Water Metro Project:
- Facilitate better connectivity of the islands around Kochi with mainland. This has been a long-standing requirement of the islanders and could be only partially mitigated through the Gosree bridges and International Container Transit Terminal road.
- Drastically reduce the road traffic by diverting the passengers to water transport. In turn, it would assist in reducing the road congestion on the roads.
- Reduction in the atmospheric pollution from land vehicles and carbon footprint of Kochi City.
- Impetus to tourism in and around Kochi providing easy access to the scenic islands around. This would lead to the development of all the islands connected by the Water Metro Project.
The waterborne transport network is the ideal solution for Kochi in order to integrate all of its inhabitants on the various islands into an efficient transport system. The outer islands will be closely linked to the mainland, giving them easier access to employment opportunities, schools and health services.
Coordinating the individual transport modes with each other will save travellers’ time on their daily routes. Underprivileged population groups in particular will benefit from the project and are more mobile.
The new ferries are safe, quick and comfortable, which will increase the attractiveness of the public transportation system in Kochi as a whole. They need significantly less fuel than the old boats and therefore create fewer greenhouse gases.
The significantly lower background noise, along with cleaner air, will also contribute to overall citizens’ well-being. At the same time, a functioning and attractive local public transport system is an important prerequisite for further economic growth and social development.
The project is unique since it introduces an integrated water transport system, whose schedule and route network will be aligned with the new metro and bus lines.Tickets are valid for the entire transport system and are designed to be affordable for the poorer population as well.
To improve efficiency, the previous point-to-point rides will be replaced by line traffic. Instead, the ferries will start from the main islands or the mainland and stop at the neighbouring islands. This will shorten the routes, thus saving time and resources and allows for a regular schedule. In total, 16 lines will be set up with 38 jetties and 78 energy-efficient boats to replace the old ones.
The project is to be implemented in just five years and is scheduled for completion in 2020. 80,000 trips per day are planned by then, with time savings of up to 30% in comparison to road transport. Furthermore, the enhanced technology of the boats means that up to 40% less diesel will be consumed. Additionally, to make the ferry rides safe and comfortable for women in particular, separate passenger areas will be created and separate entry controls conducted.