Kochi Metro Rail Ltd. (KMRL), the Government of Kerala (GoK) and the German funding agency, KfW signed the Project Agreement at 12.00 noon on 18th June 2016, in the presence of the Hon’ble Chief Minister, Shri. Pinarayi Vijayan at the Kerala House, New Delhi, for implementing the Rs.747 crore Integrated Water Transport project for the Greater Kochi region. The Project Agreement was signed by Shri. Elias George, Addl. Chief Secretary (Transport) on behalf of GoK, Shri. Abraham Oommen, Director (Finance) on behalf of KMRL and Mr. Peter Hilliges, Director on behalf of KfW.
This is the first time in India that such a significant level of investment is being brought in for improving urban water-borne passenger traffic. The city of Kochi will also be the first city in India to have water connectivity as a feeder service to the metro. As a matter of fact, the new boats under the project will provide the same transportation experience as the metro, and will be called `Kochi Water Metros’.
The project would be financed by the Indo-German Bilateral Cooperation, under the ‘climate friendly urban mobility’ plan.
The total cost of the project is Rs.747 crore, excluding Rs.72 crore for land acquisition, of which KfW would give financial assistance to the extent of 85 million Euros, i.e. approximately Rs. 597 crore as a long term soft loan. Rs.102 crore would be contributed by the Government of Kerala.
The Hon’ble Chief Minister of Kerala, Shri. Pinarayi Vijayan, who is in charge of Kochi Metro had taken a special interest in clearing all formalities on a war-footing so that the Project Agreement could be signed on the 18th of June 2016.
The major part of the project is procurement of modernised boats. Two variants of air-conditioned and Wi-Fi enabled catamaran passenger ferries, with passenger capacity of 50 and 100 respectively are envisaged. The boats would operate at an optimal speed of 8 knots, with the potential to increase up to 12 knots, once the dedicated water transit corridor is established.
Apart from the development of the ferry service, the project also proposes development of the existing and new access roads providing increased accessibility to the jetties and 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 & electric rickshaws to access the jetties, promoting property development around the jetties & place making, non-motorised transport infrastructure, facilities and infrastructure enabling smooth disabled-friendly mobility, and public bicycle sharing schemes including development of bicycle docking stations at all the jetty locations.
The major jetties or the main boat hubs shall be developed with 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 would be developed in the first Phase.
Intelligent Navigation System and Operation Control Centre (OCC) are proposed to be integrated with the city’s intelligent transportation system. The Automatic Fare Collection system being implemented by the Kochi Metro would be extended to the water transport system.
The ultimate objective of KMRL is to make the entire public transportation system one seamless entity, with a single ticketing, a single network and a single `Command and Control’ over all modes of transport, including the metro, the buses and the boats. KMRL is confident that with the implementation of this Integrated Water Transport project over the next 4 years, with the creation of the Unified Metropolitan Transport Authority (UMTA), and with seamless interchange between the metro, the buses and the boats, people will migrate from using personal transport like cars towards public transportation, as is the practice in most modern cities across the world.