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Kochi Water Metro

India’s first Water Metro in Kochi

India’s urban transport system received a major boost when one of the country’s fastest-growing cities introduced a water metro system. 

Lying on the southwestern coast of India, Kochi is a historical city famed for its ancient port and pristine backwaters.

The geography of Kochi consists of around 10 small and big islands that create a web of canals, and lakes that run parallel to the Arabian Sea. These unique backwaters provide navigable waterways that have long been used as a transport network for the scattered local communities.

The Kochi Water Metro utilizes these waterways and offers a transportation option that is environment-friendly and sustainable. 

Why Kochi Water Metro is Relevant 

Andaman and Nicobar Islands

Kochi in the state of Southern Indian state of Kerala has steadily become a hub for trading, fishing, IT, and tourism sectors. Rapid urbanization has led to the demand for better connectivity for people who travel between the island and the mainland. 

The road network has steadily expanded, however, it also led to traffic congestion and an increase in pollution levels. Though in 2017, a land-based metro system was launched, it did not cater to the people living near the backwaters. 

In addition, the legacy ferry services are often found to be irregular, unreliable, lack comfort and highly polluting as they typically run on fossil fuel.

Thus the idea to start an organized ferry system was born to make the water commute comfortable, reliable, environment-friendly, and pollution-free. 

In 2021, the first battery-powered electric boats were launched and two years later, the commercial operations began. The boats manufactured by Cochin Shipyard Limited are designed to easily traverse through narrow waterways while still maintaining decent speed.

The Kochi Water Metro project aims to connect all 10 islands via 15 routes spanning 78km, using a fleet of electrically propelled hybrid ferries.

Sustainability is at the forefront of the Kochi Water Metro

Climate change is a harsh reality, and we need rapid action to save the planet Earth. 

Transportation is a major cause of greenhouse emissions and rising levels of air pollution. Many cities around the world are grappling with issues related to increasing air pollution due to vehicular emissions. 

Road transport presently accounts for 12% of India’s energy-related CO2 emissions and is a key contributor to urban air pollution. As India seeks to meet the increasing demand for private mobility and the transport of goods, energy use and CO2 emissions from road transport could double by 2050. – IEA

In comparison, studies have indicated that water transport is the most climate-friendly transport system.

Therefore Water Metro in Kochi can be a game changer in terms of transforming urban transportation and reducing the carbon footprint of the city.

  • The boats are built in a hybrid system, where they will primarily run on electricity and switch to diesel generators in case of emergency. The battery-powered boats ensure that they are emission-free and noise-free.
  • The boat system will provide an alternative to commuters thus reducing traffic congestion and vehicular pollution. 
  •  The water metro system in Kochi also plans to use renewable energy sources like rooftop solar power to power its operations and boat services. 
  • The project will also limit the use of private vehicles as people can reach ferry stations on other eco-friendly transport options like bicycles and electric rickshaws, which are already being implemented as feeder services. Thus bringing down the rush in the city and promoting a healthy city living by building more public places like parks and community spaces rather than parking grounds.
  • The electric boat ferry system in Kochi will also promote eco-friendly tourism and improve the livelihoods of communities in the areas along the backwaters and the islands.
  • The Kochi Water Metro project will also make a small contribution to India’s goal of becoming carbon-neutral by 2070. 

Wrapping Up

Kochi Water Metro Services is a pioneering and transformational initiative in sustainable urban water transport. By introducing electric boats to the water, the project has made a novel beginning in sustainable transportation, which very few cities in the world have ventured into.

Hopefully, the success of the water metro in Kochi can pave the way to make it part of urban transport in not only other Indian cities but around the world. 



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