Kochi’s Water Metro: A New Era in Public Transportation

Kochi, a vibrant city nestled on the southwestern coast of India is no stranger to innovation and progress. And now that the Water Metro has been introduced, public transportation is undergoing yet another revolution. The nation’s first-of-its-kind project, the Kochi Water Metro, is expected to transform transportation by providing a practical and environmentally friendly substitute for current means of transportation. The Kochi Water Metro is a Special Purpose Vehicle (SPV) that is powered by electricity and is also the world’s first water metro of such a kind. The Kerala Chief Minister, Shri. Pinarayi Vijayan, in February 2021 officially flagged off the first route between Vyttila and InfoPark. Subsequently on April 25, 2023, Hon’ble Prime Minister of India Shri. Narendra Modi arrived in Kochi upon invitation, formally inaugurated it and allowed passengers to board the metro.

Born out of the vision to transform Kochi into a global city, the water metro project aims to exploit the city’s intricate network of backwaters and canals. As the brainchild of Kochi Metro Rail Limited (KMRL), in association with the Kerala Government, this project is set to change the face of public transportation in the region. KMRL (Kochi Metro Rail Limited) which is in charge of running and maintaining the metro, owns 26% of equity in the project, whilst the Kerala Government holds the remaining 74%. Primarily the water metro project is expected to cost around ₹1,137 crore (US$140 million) in total out of which the Kerala Government will provide for ₹102 crore (US$13 million), and the KFW Development Bank, which is the finance partner for the project, will extend a long-term soft credit of EUR 85 million.

As part of the Green Voyage 2050 project, representatives from the International Maritime Organization traveled to Kochi in November 2022. “I am impressed with the design and operational system in place for the ferries,” said IMO Department of Partnership and Projects Chief, Jose Matheickal1 adding that he would speak about the unique project to United Nations member nations.

Kochi is already on the global tourism map because of this initiative, which is anticipated to drive the islands’ development. The most sought-after feature of Kochi Metro is the Automated Fare Collection System, Kochi One Card – used for Kochi Metro Rail and the mobile QR codes reserved through the Kochi One App which can be used to travel both by boat and metro train. Ports and vessels are made friendly to differently-abled persons. Also among other special features of the Kochi Water Metro are the floating pontoons that maintain the boat’s level at all tides. With water metro terminals established, the tourism potential of different islands can also be leveraged which adds to the advantages of the water metro. The use of electric boats powered by solar energy ensures zero-emission operations, reducing the carbon footprint and promoting sustainability. This initiative aligns perfectly with Kochi’s commitment to becoming a cleaner and greener city.

By leveraging the extensive waterways, the Water Metro ensures an efficient and eco-friendly mode of transit. In January 2022, Cochin Shipyard (India’s largest shipbuilding and maintenance facility) delivered the first of 23 electric ferries for the project. The initial phase has twelve boats shutting service between the Vytilla-Kakkanad Terminal and the High Court Junction-Vypin-Bolgatti Terminals. At the culmination of the project, 38 ports spread across ten islands are expected to be serviced by 78 water metro boats. By the year 2035, when it is completely operational, 1.5 lakh commuters per day are anticipated to use the Kochi water metro services.

A global recognition for electric boats, the Guzzi’s Electric Boats Awards, saw the Kochi Water Metro Boat win the public transit boat category. Kochi Water Metro has also been honored with the International Project Management Association Award, the Shiptech Award in the maritime industry, and the 2023 Energy Leadership Award presented by the Economic Times.

As the Water Metro sets sail on Kochi’s waterways, a new chapter in public transportation begins. This innovative initiative not only promises to alleviate the existing traffic congestion but also paves the way for a sustainable and eco-friendly future. As we eagerly await the completion of this ambitious project, the anticipation and excitement for a new era in public transportation grows stronger by the day.

  1. Bureau, BL Kochi (15 November 2022). “IMO praises Kochi Water Metro project” ↩︎

Leave A Comment