With five years in making, the Kochi Metro is set to begin operations between Aluva and Palarivatton from June 17.
Other than connecting the financial capital Kerala with a network of 78 speedboats, 16 jetties and several kilometers of tracks, the Kochi Metro is also taking decisive steps through its employment policies.
The metro department has hired 23 LGBT staffers and 300 women, seven of whom will operate trains as well.
The Kochi Metro has also taken the initiative to propagate the cultural and artistic history of the city and Kerala's beauty through innovative station designs.
The stations will be equipped with solar panels on the roof and vertical gardens on pillars of the trail corridor. One of the stations which will incorporate themes of cultural importance is the station near Edapally. The interiors will be decorated with works and contributions from Malayalam poet Changampuzha.
The UNESCO World Heritage Site of Western Ghats will also be a recurring theme in the Kochi Metro.
The Kochi Metro will also connect to India's first ever Water Metro, significantly upgrading the decades old ferry service and offering more convenient routes to get around Kochi.
The main objective of KMRL (Kochi Metro Rail Ltd.) remains reduction of traffic jams and the consequent pollution caused by increased number of vehicles.
Reshmi CR, head of corporate communications at KMRL drew a parallel with Delhi Metro and said,
“Ferries have long been a part of Kochi’s transportation grid with frequent services to nearby islands of Vypeen, Mattanchery, Bolghatty and Fort Kochi. The integrated system will allow us to not be Delhi, where you have to resort to an odd-even rule. Within the system, we will have the Metro, KURTC buses and ferries all running on similar timetables so that traffic will be seamless across the city.”
KMRL has collaborated with Axis Bank Limited to take care of the Automatic Fare Collection system, for which the bank is paying Rs 209 crore in royalty over the next 10 years.
The smart cards issued to Kochi Metro travellers will promote cashless transactions for ticketing. Travellers will be able to link their smart card with any bank account, including accounts opened in the Jan Dhan Yojana.
Kochi Metro is an exemplar for developing cities which can be overhauled simply by transforming and properly managing their public transport network. These projects, which amalgamate the already present transport system with modern infrastructures, makes way for greener and better cities.