Kochi, India (Urban Transport News): Cochin Shipyard Limited (CSL) handed over the first of the 23 fully air-conditioned, battery-powered electric ferries to Kochi Metro Rail Limited (KMRL) for the Rs 747 crore Kochi Water Metro project on December 31, 2021.
The 50-seater ferry was named 'Muziris'. It has been named after what was once a thriving BC-era port — and is said to have been located at Pattanam village located 25 kms from Kochi city.
According to KMRL, four more Water Metro ferries are expected to be launched in the coming months. They will join the first vessel in conducting trial runs, mainly in the Vyttila-Kakkanad waterways, following which their commercial operation is expected from April. Each ferry is priced over Rs 7.30 crore.
The 23 ferries would be complimented by another 55 smaller ferries — each having seating capacity of 25 — in the coming years, as part of the Kochi Water Metro project.
"This would be the first time in the world that a centrally-controlled integrated water transport system comprising a large fleet, would be battery-powered. The ferries use lithium titanate oxide (LTO) batteries — which are considered the latest and safest in battery technology, and are capable of fast charging. They can be charged in 10 to 15 minutes’ time, while passengers are alighting/boarding. The ferries would have generator back up, which will take over their operation automatically, in the event of any failure of the battery system," said Kochi Metro Rail Ltd in their official release.
These floating jetties will be made available at the 38 ferry terminals, making the ferries disabled and elderly friendly. The energy-efficient hull is designed for 10-knots speed (18 kmph), which is considerably faster than conventional ferries in operation in Kerala.
The ferries having wide windows that provide an exotic view of the backwaters and the banks, for passengers and tourists who traverse 76 route kms. The interiors are designed much like in Kochi Metro, in the same colour scheme.
The ferries are designed to create very less waves over the narrow channels even at high speed and would provide commuters a silent mode of transport. An automatic boat location system will continuously monitor their position from the Operating Control Centre (OCC) at Vytilla Mobility Hub.
The Kochi Water Metro would thus be a climate-friendly integrated water transport initiative to improve waterway connectivity, with a total of 78 ferries linking 38 terminals located over 76 route kilometers. The ferry jetties are in different stages of completion.