Lokanath Behera, a retired Indian Police Service officer, presently heading the Kochi Metro Rail Limited as Managing Director. Under his proven leadership, the Kochi Metro is achieving the new heights day by day. Recently, Kochi Metro has launched India's first Water Metro Project to the public and become an eye-catching project among others in the area of sustanaible transportation system.
In a recent interaction with Metro Rail Today, Behra shared very insightful and unknown facts about Kochi Metro Rail and Kochi Water Metro projects. He also talked on impact of these projects on lives of people and future expansion plans.
Kochi Water Metro is one of its kind project in the world connecting isolated islands to the mainland. Kochi Water Metro would be the largest organized water transport system in the world when completed. There will be 78 Boats, 38 jetties now and more could join in future. Water Metro will be the metro of island people, connecting them to prosperity with high comfort level such as air-conditioned passenger space, no roaring sound of engines, highly stable design, low wake wash, safety over overcrowding of passengers etc. The boats are built in such a way that it suits the inland waterways of Kerala. It could go through shallow waterways without creating disturbance to the shore.
With introduction of floating jetties, first time in the country, a barrier free disable friendly system is introduced in mass water transport. A locomotor disabled person on wheel chair can access the boat on his own, without depending on anybody. This is first time in the whole world, a public transport in water to a massive scale go all electric. With a defined headway, and frequency, the water metro ensures timely service and thereby ushers in a dependable system of transport for the people.
When the whole project will be complete, Water metro will cover 70+ route kilometers. We are working to complete the project by mid-2025. Presently two routes are operational ie, High court- Vypin and Vyttila –Kakkanad. There is a slight delay because of the availability of boats and pontoons. The supply chain management also got disrupted due to covid which in turn resulted in a delay in works.
One of the major challenge was that it took time to get the environmental clearance and CRZ clearance. The boats are completely designed and manufactured in Kochi and there is no other model to take into consideration and hence no precedence. Supply chain management was tough and even 50 passenger boats could not be tendered so far. It is also difficult to clear the weeds in the water channel.
The preparatory works for phase 2 is almost complete. We are waiting for few clearances from the central government and the funding agency. KMRL is fully prepared for the successful completion of the work. The works of station entry & exit of two stations have begun. This metro corridor is significant for the people as it would be connecting ITES and SEZ of the Kochi city.
The tickets are being sold in both physical and virtual methods. KMRL is trying to fulfill the requirements of the common man. We are trying to spread the idea ‘travel more & pay less’. KMRL has introduced various schemes/trip passes for the commuters. (eg Vidya-30 : monthy student pass for Rs.900 which allows students to travel unlimited). KMRL has also introduced free wifi in the trains. We also have a dedicated team ie, metro promo centre to do various campaigns and activities to bring in more ridership.
Non fare box revenue is earned through advertisements in stations & trains, branding stations, semi naming rights, events & promotions, leasing of spaces etc. We are trying to improve the non-fare box revenue. The advertisement market has not flourished in Kerala like the other metros. With limited options available, we are trying to capitalize all our assets. Various activities/events are also being organized to make the stations active.
There is a possibility of Phase-3 connecting Cochin International Airport & Angamaly. It could be analysed only after the CMP study.
Kochi Metro and Water Metro has inter-operable tickets. The feeder buses and feeder autos are being integrated by a mobile app.Commuters can use a mobile app/web interface to generate QR codes for each ticket. So people would be able to travel cashless.
Kochi Metro is keen on trying to bring Hydrogen mobility. We are also trying to make the canals in Kochi Water Metro worthy. KMRL is trying to make all our services technologically advanced and updated.