The network will provide a system of mass rapid transport for Kochi by 2016

A new era is set to dawn in the Greater Kochi area on Thursday when Prime Minister Manmohan Singh lays the foundation stone for the Kochi Metro Rail project.

Apart from providing a system of mass rapid transport in the city by 2016, the 25-km-long Aluva-MG Road-Pettah metro corridor will result in the city expanding towards the suburbs. The Kochi Metro Rail Limited’s (KMRL) director board has already cited the need to extend the metro towards the international airport, Kakkanad and Tripunithura. Thus, commuters from these places and beyond will be able to travel to the city and back, without being caught in traffic snarls.

The State government has promised that the Delhi Metro Rail Corporation (DMRC), which prepared the detailed project report and is the project consultant, will implement the project.

The DMRC’s principal advisor E. Sreedharan said here a few days ago that metro commuters will be able to cover the Aluva-MG Road stretch in 28 to 30 minutes. “They will be able to reach Pettah (near Tripunithura) from the Ernakulam Junction railway station in 10 minutes. The services in Delhi have a punctuality rate of 99.70 per cent.”

He told The Hindu that apart from initiating the widening of key roads in the city, the metro will also improve the city’s aesthetics. “The space between the metro pillars will be landscaped, so that vendors and others do not encroach into the space. The expenses have been included in the total project cost (Rs 5,181 crore). The pillars will be 1.20 metres wide and they will have crash guards on the side.”

A foot-by-foot survey will be done and footpaths will be widened wherever necessary. Street lights that hamper traffic movement will be relocated. The DMRC will also relocate lamp posts (from the medians), pipelines and cables, since leaving it to the departments concerned might cause delays.

Aimed at completing the project a year ahead of schedule (three years, instead of the four years planned), tenders will be awarded within a week of signing an MoU with KMRL.

This way, public money worth at least Rs 150 crore can be saved, Mr Sreedharan said. (The DMRC has already finalised the tenders to widen the Town Hall-Madhava Pharmacy Junction stretch and the Jos Junction-South Railway station road, apart from the tender to build a coach-maintenance yard at Muttom near Aluva. It is awaiting handing over of the land.)

More In: Kochi