KOCHI: With the Kochi Metro Rail’s service extension helping it to register record ridership, prospects have now brightened for getting the sanction from the Centre for the proposed 11.2km expansion to Infopark via Kakkanad. The revised proposal, submitted by Kochi Metro Rail Ltd (KMRL), is under the consideration by the Union Government.
If the fabulous response of Union Ministers and political fraternity when KMRL crossed one-lakh ridership mark on a single day can be taken as a cue, it can be assumed that the much-awaited nod is likely to be given soon. The overwhelming response to service extension also brushed aside all the apprehensions over the success of Kochi Metro if it is extended to areas like Kakkanad, which is one of the major suburbs of the city.
It was on September 4 that the services were extended to Thykkoodam. Since then, the average ridership of Kochi metro has seen a steep increase. The average ridership till September 3 was 40,000. After the service extension, the average ridership has more than doubled and stands at 82,515 till September 12. The record number of travellers travelled on September 12 with the figure touching 1,01,463.
“It is clear proof that citizens embrace eco-friendly, efficient and affordable modes of transport as an informed choice. I am delighted that within days of the inauguration of a new segment, daily ridership on Kochi Metro has crossed the 100K mark from a previous figure of about 35K,” tweeted Urban Development Minister Hardeep Singh Puri.
Earlier, while inaugurating the new stretch last week, Puri talked positively about the proposed expansion to Kakkanad. KMRL has submitted the proposal based on the Union Government’s revised metro policy and the Urban Mass Transit Company Ltd (UMTC) has revised the DPR, adding alternative mode analysis and Transit-Oriented Development. There will be 11 stations in the extension from JLN Stadium, including Palarivattom Junction, Palarivattom Signal, Chembumukku, Vazhakkala, Kunnumpuram, Kakkanad Junction, Kochi Special Economic Zone, Chittethukara, Rajagiri, Infopark I and Infopark II. The state government has already approved the extension project at an estimated cost of Rs 2,310 crore.
Meanwhile, Hibi Eden, MP, hopes the Centre will soon give its nod for the proposed extension. “Metro Rail has changed the very face of Kochi and has developed a new travel culture in the city. It is of great help to the everyone. The surge in ridership is a highly positive sign and we believe that the expansion to Infopark and other tourist spots in west Kochi will further increase its ridership,” said Eden.
Rise in hope
The good run of Kochi Metro after the service extension continued on Friday. According to KMRL authorities, the daily ridership of Kochi Metro on Friday was 90,495 till 10 pm. The figures are likely to go up as one more hour is left for ending services for the day, they said.