The cabinet of Government of Kerala has given approval for developing an ‘Integrated Water Transportation System’ for Kochi, which will bring revolutionary change in the transportation system of city of Kochi. The initiative taken up by KMRL for developing a modern water transport system for the Greater Kochi region under UMTA, include the introduction of modern water-craft, renovation of boat-jetties, re-development of access roads with street lights and provision of connectivity between the boat-jetties and the bus & metro stations. Now, the proposal will go to Department of Economic Affairs through Ministry of Urban Development and with the approval of DEA, it is expected to be considered in the next board of KfW. The total cost of the project is 741 crore excluding 72 crores for land acquisition, in which KfW would give financial assistance to the extent of 85 million Euro, approximately, Rs. 595 crore as a long term soft loan. 102 crore would be contributed by the Government of Kerala.
“We are delighted that this project prepared by KMRL has been finally approved by the Government of Kerala. This is not merely a transportation project but also a livelihood improvement project for the people living on the islands and along Kochi’s backwaters. This is also the most liberal infrastructure project ever funded by an external agency in Kerala, with 80% of the project cost being funded by KfW, who are extremely keen on the project. I believe that this water transportation project will be a game-changer for the people of the Greater Kochi area, and its impact on Kochi’s development will be as significant, if not more significant than the proposed Kochi Metro Rail system”, said Shri. Elias George, Managing Director, Kochi Metro Rail Limited.
The major part of the project is the procurement of modernised boats. Two variants of air-conditioned and Wi-Fi enabled glass reinforced plastic (GRP) catamaran passenger ferries with passenger capacity of 50 and 100 respectively are recommended in the DPR prepared by UMTC. The boats with diesel electric hybrid based propulsion system are recommended to operate at an optimal speed of 8 knots, with the potential to increase up to 12 knots, once the recommended dedicated water transit corridor is established. The boats shall be powered by combination of twin diesel electric generators and electric motors (PMSM) for propulsion.
Apart from the ferry service development, the project also recommends developing existing and new access roads providing increased accessibility to the jetties and also enhanced mobility within the islands, infrastructure for ensuring safety and security to all its users by way of active and well-lit streets & CCTV cameras, promoting use of small occupancy feeder modes such as mini/midi feeder buses and electric rickshaws to access the jetties, promoting property development around the jetties and place making, non -motorised transport infrastructure, facilities and infrastructure enabling smooth disabled friendly mobility, public bicycle sharing schemes including development of bicycle docking stations are also recommended at all the jetty locations.
The major jetties or the main boat hubs shall be developed as economic centers with commercial property development up to an extent of 1 acre and developing Wi-Fi enabled social recreational opportunities around the jetty locations. Tourism is also proposed to be promoted as part of the project. 16 out of 38 jetties will be developed in the first Phase.
The major and minor jetties are proposed to have floating pontoons with state of the art automatic docking system technology. The floating pontoons are recommended to be covered with re-traceable sheds so as to provide passenger comfort during rainy season. As part of the infrastructure for water transport project, two boatyards are proposed, one each at Thevara and Pizhala. Intelligent Navigation System and Operation Control Centre (OCC) are also proposed and are recommended to be integrated with the city’s intelligent transportation system. The Automatic Fare Collection system being implemented by the Kochi Metro is recommended to be extended to water transport system.
The entire water transport project is proposed to be fully operationalised by 2019. Based on the demand, the identified 16 routes have been prioritised under Phase I and Phase II. During the phase I (2016-17), it is proposed to operate 7 routes with a fleet requirement of 43 boats while in Phase II (2018-19), it is proposed to operate all the identified 16 routes (7 routes of Phase I and 9 routes of Phase II) with a total fleet requirement of 78 boats. The headways shall vary between 10 minutes to 20 minutes across various routes. However, it is also expected that there is a sudden surge in the ridership demand owing to an improved system, hence it is recommended that the demand assessment be carried out every year/periodically.
Kochi Metro Rail Limited (KMRL) in line with the directives of the Ministry of Urban Development, Government of India has spearheaded the task of setting up the Unified Metropolitan Transportation Authority (UMTA-KOCHI) with the objective of developing a seamless multi-modal transportation system in the Kochi City Region. As part of its initiatives, KMRL has taken up developing a ‘sustainable Integrated Water Transportation System’ for Kochi city, meeting the people’s expectations as per international standards and aims to integrate the system with the other modes of transport including the metro system over a period of time with an integrated fare and integrated timetable.