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PM Narendra Modi inaugurates India's first water metro in Kerala's Kochi

PM Modi inaugurates India’s first water metro at Kochi, Kerala. The Kochi Water Metro, , one of its kind project in the world, connects 10 islands around Kochi, through battery-operated electric hybrid boats for seamless connectivity, with the city

The country's first Water Metro service, which will initially, start sailing with 8 electric-hybrid boats in two routes - Highcourt - Vypin and Vyttila- Kakkanad stretches, will provide safe, affordable and pocket-friendly travel for people in and around Kochi and also tourists from across the world.

The solar-powered electric vessels with zero emissions have recyclable aluminium alloy hull bodies and the engines produce near to zero sound and vibration while running.

Since it's an eco-friendly project, the engines of the boat will run on lithium titanite spinel battery, unlike normal boats which run on biofuel.

The vessels are also equipped with life-saving equipment and technology to prevent overcrowding. Apart from having an automatic boat location tracking system and night navigation equipment, the panoramic windows of the vessels provide a visual treat of the scenic backwaters of Kochi.

While the boats have been designed as coaches of Kochi Metro, boat terminals, passenger entry and exit gates, ticket counters and safety measures mirror the features of the metro rail service.

All jetties feature electronic display boards about boat service. Announcements will be made in English, Hindi and Malayalam when the services are operating in full swing. Passenger entry and exit to boats, with air-conditioned cabins, are similar to the system in Kochi metros.

The project is envisaged with 38 jetties, and 78 boats, covering a distance of 76 km. The non-polluting, battery-powered boats are noise-free and produce low waves, unlike traditional ferries. Boat re-charging facilities have been provided in all terminals. Costing Rs 7 crore each, these boats can go up to a speed of eight nautical miles per hour and feature aluminium-catamaran hulls. Each boat can carry 100 passengers with a seating capacity of 50.

The boats will operate from 8 am to 11 am and from 4 pm to 7 pm.

At present, Kerala Water Transport Department is operating around 200-odd boat services on different routes, which mainly connect Vypin islands to Kochi. Over the years, however, these services have been criticised for several reasons such as for not being punctual and offering poor passenger safety.

Apart from the water transport department, there are stray services operated by private players.

Fares: The minimum fare has been set at Rs 20, and maximum at Rs 40. The passengers can book their tickets using a mobile app. They can also get weekly or monthly passes, starting at Rs 180 to Rs 1,500.

A weekly trip passes with 12 trips is priced at Rs 180 while the monthly trip passes are valid for 30 days having 50 trips would cost Rs 600. The quarterly pass is priced at Rs 1500 and passengers would be able to avail of 150 trips within a period of 90 days.

PROJECT COST, STAKEHOLDERS: The Kochi Water Metro service is fully funded by the Kerala government and KfW, a German funding agency. The terminals are built with state-of-the-art facilities and the jetties have floating pontoons with automatic docking system technology. The Water Metro is expected to ferry 34,000 passengers every day when fully operational.

The project has been conceived as part of the Kochi Metro Rail service. In 2016, the cost of the water metro had been pegged at Rs 747 crore, but the estimate has been revised to Rs 1136 crore. Boats have been constructed by Cochin Shipyard Limited.

The Kochi water metro intends to introduce modern, energy-efficient and environment-friendly boats. It was planned as a feeder service for the Kochi metro rail, which has been in operation since 2017