Prime Minister Narendra Modi is set to inaugurate the Rs5,181 crore Kochi Metro on Saturday. The 13-km metro service, the eighth metro service to be made operational in India, is unique in many ways.
With its doors opening to the music of Chenda—Kerala’s traditional percussion instrument—to having the longest first phase metro operation in the country and offering free Wi-Fi, the Kochi Metro has many firsts to its credit.
Apart from improving a city’s urban mobility quotient, a metro service is highly desirable for its development. While India has metro rail services in the cities of Delhi, Kolkata, Mumbai, Jaipur, Gurgaon, Bengaluru and Chennai, having a total route length of 326 km, new projects totalling 546 km are under construction in 11 cities. Also, 13 cities are considering the symbol of modern mobility involving a route length of 903 km.
Here are the five things to watch out for in Kochi Metro:
Shortest commissioning schedule: It has been commissioned in a record time of 45 months as compared to other metro services in the country. While it took Mumbai Metro 75 months to finish its first 11-km run, Chennai Metro took 72 months for the completion of its first phase of 4 km. In comparison, Jaipur Metro took 56 months for the first 9.02 km, Delhi Metro took 50 months for the first 8.5 km, and Bangalore Metro took 50 months for the first 8.5 km stretch.
Going green: The Kochi Metro has a strong commitment towards clean energy, and it is the first metro service in the country to leverage solar power to meet a quarter of its electricity requirements. With every one of its 23 stations having solar panels, which can generate 2.3 megawatts (MW), and a 4 MW solar plant, plans are underway to meet as much as half of its electricity demands through solar power.
Also, every sixth of the 4,000-odd metro pillars will have a vertical garden which will use recycled municipal waste. The Metro is also offering bicycles for free at every station for passengers to roam around the city.
Equal opportunity employer: Kochi is the first metro and the first state-owned company in India to “officially” offer employment to a large number of transgenders. Twenty-three of the 60 transgender employees whom Kochi Metro Rail Ltd (KMRL) has hired for operations ranging from ticketing to maintenance will be at work on Saturday.
Women workforce: Kochi Metro service, once completed, will be the first in India to have a workforce that comprises 80% women.
Water ferry: Apart from offering mobility solution, the Kochi Metro also plans to offer boat rides with water transport envisaged as a feeder service to the rail corridor. The Rs819 crore “Water Metro” project is in the works to connect the metro to the 10 islands of Kochi, with the first phase of the water corridor expected to be operational by end-2018.