KOCHI: Having succeeded in popularising brand KMRL, Elias George has managed to imprint the metro rail logo on the minds of Kochiites.
Five years after assuming office as the managing director of Kochi Metro Rail Ltd (KMRL), his efforts have borne fruit - the city is all set to get an advanced metro rail.
That too in a cost efficient way. Along with metro rail, his vision has helped frame an integrated multi-model transport network for Kochi agglomeration, a first-of-its-kind in the country.
The Water Metro Project, his brainchild, is also progressing at a fast pace. Now, with the first phase of the metro project all set to chug off, George, in an exclusive chat with Express, thanks the people of Kochi for lending their wholehearted support to the metro team.
Q: What are the key objectives of KMRL?
A: Our aim is to develop a new travel culture and an integrated transport network in Kochi on a par with any top-class city in the world. Our efforts will succeed only if more people switch to public modes of transport.
Q: How do you plan to attract more people to the public transport system?
A: Provide the people with a perfect platform and they will shift to the public transport system. We are planning seamless inter-connectivity by developing water transport network and arranging feeder services. This will ensure the people are offered the same luxury they enjoy in metro, like air conditioning and Wi-Fi, in all services in the network.
Also, the smartcard ticketing system will enable people to travel in all modes of transport. The frequency of the services will be decided as per the demand. We hope the transport network of Kochi will witness a sea change in the coming years.
We have already roped in KURTC to launch feeder services during the launch of metro rail. Private buses will be added to the feeder network later. Moreover, KMRL will also bring in some modern feeder buses.
Q: What are your plans for building KMRL’s brand value?
A: Our ultimate aim is to connect people with each other. The metro stations will stand as perfect examples of cleanliness, safety and security. The metro rail will initiate a novel culture of civic behaviour, punctuality, safety for women and security.
Our system offers high security to the women taking metro during night, there by triggering a vibrant night life in the city. Ninety-eight per cent of the metro corridors will be under the surveillance of the Operation Control Centre. This new culture will define our brand value.
Q: What were the challenges faced during project implementation?
A: Various stakeholders are involved in the project. They include state and Central Governments, KMRL, DMRC, Kochi Corporation, GCDA, KSINC, district administration and various residents’ associations. So, the most challenging part was to align them with the same pace and rhythm.
Q: How have you benefited from the role of E Sreedharan, the principal adviser to DMRC?
A: The involvement of E Sreedharan has helped us keep many issues at bay. His proven competence and management skills propelled the civil works at a rapid pace. Moreover, his larger-than-life image has helped in garnering the support of the people. We are also thankful to the DMRC. As an implementing agency, they managed the civil works efficiently. If KMRL was tied up with the civil works, it would have been difficult for us to push projects like Water Metro.
Q: What’s status of Water Metro?
A: We hope the boat services can be launched in 2019. We have started preparing tender documents for buying boats. The General Consultant is likely to take over charge by June. It will make the necessary changes, if required, on the bid documents.
Q: When will the first phase be commissioned?
A: We are awaiting the clearance from the Prime Minister’s Office. The state government had already contacted the PM’s office. The date of commissioning is likely to be finalised soon.