‘Sustainable, scenic’: Kochi Water Metro carves niche & new paths

Kochi Water Metro marked its first anniversary on April 25. In its first year, it served 19,84,293 passengers, averaging over 6,000 daily users.
‘Sustainable, scenic’: Kochi Water Metro carves niche & new paths

KOCHI: Kochi, famed for its historic port and nestled amid backwaters and the Arabian Sea, marked the first anniversary of its water metro on April 25.

Kochi Water Metro, the first of its kind in India, offers an eco-friendly transportation option through pristine backwaters, providing a serene escape from the city’s noise, heat and traffic. In its first year, the water metro served 19,84,293 passengers, averaging over 6,000 daily users.

Until the 20th century, 90% of the area’s residents used small boats to access the mainland. The construction of roads and bridges over time prompted a major shift to road-based transportation, now used by over 97% of the population. This has led to significant traffic congestion and increased air pollution. In response, the government initiated the water metro project to revitalise water-based transport and attract both commuters and tourists.

The project, implemented by Kochi Metro Rail Ltd (KMRL), was conceived in 2015. It aims to connect 10 islands via 15 routes spanning 78km, using a fleet of 78 fast, electrically propelled hybrid ferries serving 38 jetties.

“This innovative project not only eases urban congestion but also offers a sustainable and scenic travel alternative, reflecting Kochi’s commitment to eco-friendly development,” said Loknath Behera, managing director of Kochi Water Metro Ltd (KWML).

“To date, construction of 10 terminals has been completed and they are operational. Work on another 15 terminals, including those at Mattancherry,

Paliyamthuruth, Willingdon Island, Kadamakkudy, and Kumbalam is under way, and the tender process for the remaining terminals is ongoing,” said Sajan John, chief general manager of Kochi Water Metro Ltd. Cochin Shipyard Ltd, which secured the contract to build 23 100-seater hybrid boats, has delivered 14, with the remaining expected by August or September. Recently, the water metro launched its service on the popular High Court-Fort Kochi route, enhancing access to one of the city’s tourist hotspots.

Route-wise fare

Vyttila-Kakkanad: Rs 30

High Court Jn-Fort Kochi: Rs 40

High Court Jn-Vypeen: Rs 20

High Court Jn-South Chittoor: Rs 40

High Court Jn-Mulavukad North: Rs 30

High Court Jn-Bolgatty: Rs 20

Bolgatty-Mulavukad North: Rs 30

Bolgatty-South Chittoor: Rs 40

Mulavukadu North-South Chittoor: Rs 20

South Chittoor-Cheranalloor: Rs 30

South Chittoor-Eloor: Rs 30

Eloor-Cheranalloor: Rs 20

Removing A ‘Mile’stone Around Its Neck

Both Kochi Water Metro and Kochi Rail Metro are keen on ensuring last- and first-mile connectivity. To achieve this, the integration of various modes of transportation is being explored. Kochi Metro also provides feeder bus, auto and MYBYK options for commuters to meet its goals. The water metro has taken into primary consideration its integration with other modes of transport, thereby setting up its terminals in areas where bus stands/stations, metro (rail) stations, feeder networks, and other public transport modes are available. A total of 15 feeder e-buses are envisaged to augment first- and last-mile connectivity from metro stations and another 20 e-buses from water metro terminals. At present, a fleet of 50 e-autos operate feeder trips from metro stations, while another 25 will shortly commence service.

Path of progress


ADB’s Cities Development Initiative for Asia (CDIA) collaborates with Kochi corporation for a pre-feasibility study on a ferry service investment proposal to alleviate road congestion and address the transport needs of island communities


Kerala govt conceives project through KMRL


Detailed project report (DPR) prepared

JUNE 2016

Loan agreement signed with German funding agency KfW

JUNE 2017

AECOM Consortium appointed project’s general consultant

OCT 2019

Environmental clearance received; Cochin Shipyard Ltd (CSL) wins tender for 23-strong fleet of electric boats


Construction of terminals began

FEB 2021

1st route between Vyttila and Infopark inaugurated by CM Pinarayi Vijayan

JAN 2022

CSL delivers first boat


Officials of UN’s International Maritime Organization visit project as part of ‘Green Voyage 2050’ project

APRIL 25,2023

PM Narendra Modi opens service on two routes — HC-Vypeen and Vyttila-Kakkanad

SEPT 12, 2023

CSL delivers 10th boat

OCT 2023

Water metro wins awards for excellence in ferry services

March 17, 2024

HC-Bolgatty-N Mulavukad-S Chittoor and S Chittoor-Eloor-Cheranalloor routes commence operation

April 17

CSL delivers 14th boat

April 21

High Court-Fort Kochi route commences operation

Aug-Sept 2024

Remaining boats expected to be delivered by CSL

Dec 2025

Project is expected to become fully operational

State-of-the-art systems & eco-friendly operations

The Kochi Water Metro showcases an innovative design with a 24m aluminium catamaran hull and twin-screw propulsion powered by quick-charging lithium titanate oxide (LTO) batteries. These batteries can be fully charged in 15 minutes and support up to one hour of sailing time. Known for their safety and longevity, LTO batteries last between seven to 10 years. The boats operate with a minimal draft of 0.9m and achieve speeds of eight knots on electric power and 10 knots on diesel, accommodating 100 passengers, half of whom can be seated.

The vessels also feature a dual-power system that combines electric batteries with on-board diesel generators in a hybrid mode. Accessibility and inclusivity are central to the water metro’s design. The terminals are equipped with floating pontoons that adjust to tidal variations, ensuring safe and easy access for all passengers, including those with disabilities.

Switching to electric propulsion is projected to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by at least 16,500 tonnes per year when fully operational, aligning with India’s carbon neutrality goals for 2070. The construction materials for the boats are not only lightweight and recyclable but also engineered to reduce noise and minimise wave impacts, which helps protect the shorelines and aquatic life. Safety features include state-of-the-art navigation systems that adhere to stringent safety standards, well-lit terminals with covered walkways, accessible locations, and enhanced security measures such as CCTV cameras and comprehensive surveillance and communication systems.

To prevent overcrowding and enhance safety, an automatic passenger control system regulates the number of passengers to match the boat’s capacity, addressing a common cause of accidents in water transport. Management of the fleet is centralised at the operation control centre, which coordinates operations, tracks boats in real-time, monitors passenger safety, and handles disaster management, ensuring a seamless and secure operation.

90% - of the area’s residents used small boats to access the mainland in the 20th century

97% - of the population use road-based transportation following construction of roads and bridges


Design speed (hybrid mode)

10 knots

Service speed(electric mode)

8 knots

Service speed(diesel)

8 knots

Rs 40 - Maximum fare

Rs 20 - Minimum fare

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