Generation of solar power, utilising braking energy, and social and green initiatives are unique to the project
Among the many firsts that go to the Kochi Metro’s credit is that it is the longest metro corridor (13 km) being completed within a span of four years, a national record.
Moreover, Kochi Metro Rail Limited (KMRL) has recruited 23 persons from the transgender community to take care of counters and to do housekeeping tasks in stations. It has also recruited another 500 workers from Kudumbasree Mission to do various tasks in stations.
“We would thus be the first government-owned company in India to formally appoint transgender people. Society’s mindset towards them will change only by direct interaction with them,” said the metro agency’s managing director, Elias George.
“We would also be the first in the world to marry an urban transport project and a poverty eradication mission,” he said, referring to the deployment of the Kudumbasree workforce.
This feat was made possible through a tie-up between KMRL and the highly successful Kudumbasree women self-help initiative in the State. In what is considered to be a first of its kind move, over 500 women have been employed in connection with the Kochi Metro. Women will be seen in customer relations, house-keeping, catering and a host of other jobs.
Referring to the use of Kochi-1 smart card as a commercial debit card, Mr. George said that it would also probably be the first metro to have a open-loop card that can be used outside the metro system.
The pre-paid smart card will, in due course, facilitate travelling not just in the metro but in boats and buses as well, besides for commercial transactions. The credit points to be generated in connection with public bicycle sharing scheme to promote non-motorised transport mode will also be integrated into the card for redemption.
The card can be purchased from metro stations by providing minimum know your customer (KYC) details like phone number and date of birth. Commuters can do transactions up to ₹10,000 every month by using the card. They can do transactions of up to ₹1 lakh per month if they submit ID proof. The metro agency will shortly open kiosks at select locations to popularise the card.
The Kochi Metro is also the first in India to utilise Communication Based Train Control (CBTC) system. This would, in the long run, enable unmanned train operations or pilotless travel. Keeping this in mind, KMRL has recruited personnel as train pilots who will also double up as station controllers.
The technology will also eventually make it possible for 99 per cent of braking energy of each train to be fed back into the grid and used by the train that follows the one ahead, resulting in phenomenal savings to the KMRL.
The metro will also be the first in India to depend on solar power to meet 25 per cent of its power needs in the immediate future, according to Mr. George. It has already begun installing solar panels atop the stations, to generate 2 MW of power. Another 2 MW of power will be generated from solar panels that will be fixed atop the coach depot-cum-operational control centre at Muttom. Yet another 4 MW of power will be generated from solar panels that would be installed in a 45,000 sq.ft area at Muttom.
It will also be the sole metro to have a waterway component – the Water Metro, in which 78 modern, fast ferries will be procured. It has been proposed that the ₹747-crore Water Metro will be developed as a feeder service to the Kochi Metro, featuring 38 jetties connecting 10 island communities in the city, covering the 76-km route network.
The German bank, Kreditanstalt für Wiederaufbau (KfW), will provide a €85-million loan. The Water Metro project involves purchase of two variants of air-conditioned and Wi-Fi-enabled catamaran passenger ferries with a capacity of 50 and 100 passengers.
An Urban Metropolitan Transport Authority (UMTA) integrating the metro, bus and boat transport modes will be one of the critical components of the Kochi Metro. The passage of an UMTA Bill is under the active consideration of the State government.
Vertical gardens that will adorn over 200 Kochi metro pillars will need 3,000 tonnes of compost generated from municipal waste every year. Every sixth metro pillar will have a vertical garden. Advertisement boards will be placed on the others, earning revenue for the KMRL.