KMRL goes into cost-cutting, alternative revenue tapping mode to tide over crisis

Many metro trains are operating with just a handful of passengers. A scene on the Petta-Kadavanthra stretch at 3.30 p.m. on Thursday.   | Photo Credit: THULASI KAKKAT

Faced with the Kochi metro’s annual loss rising to ₹334 crore in 2020-21 from ₹310 crore a year ago, fall in patronage and mounting expenditure, Kochi Metro Rail Limited (KMRL) is probing ways to rein in expenditure and mop up non-ticketing revenue.

For a start, it has given up its project to ready a vertical garden every six metro pillars. This was decided upon since even maintaining the few existing ones in the vicinity of metro stations turned out to be a strain on resources. Each such garden costs approximately ₹1 lakh to maintain every year, in the form of manpower, upkeep, and watering expense, metro sources said.

Faced with an uphill task in maintaining them, money plants were planted across select pillars, to give the much-needed green cover beneath the 25-km metro viaduct. A proposal to cover the pillars with flowering climbers, which came much cheaper, was given up after concerns were raised about its possible impact on the structural safety of pillars.

At the same time, the metro agency is scouting for commercial and other institutions which can landscape the medians beneath the viaduct, to break the monotony of the huge mass of concrete that went into its construction. Plants which can withstand the air polluted by continuous emission of automobile exhaust ought to be planted in the medians.

Bliss City

In addition, KMRL is in the process of tying up with the Horticulture Department to make optimal use of 31 acres of Government land in Kakkanad that was identified for Bliss City, a ₹3,000-crore wellness and wholesome entertainment destination, to garner non-ticketing revenue for the metro’s operation and maintenance. The project has been a non-starter.

Advertisement space

The metro agency is also readying a novel plan to sell advertisement space in the exterior and interior of metro stations, sources said. A sample of the LED-display spaces that have been planned will be put up in a week’s time at the Edappally station. Station controllers can be contacted for possibilities like installing advertisements within metro stations.

305 commercial spaces up for grabs

An aggressive drive is on to market 305 commercial spaces—each measuring 120 sq.ft.—in metro stations, at a four-day auction that will begin at the Ernakulam Town Hall from November 2. Metro personnel are leaving no stone unturned to tap the potential of those spaces. The rest of the available commercial space will be devoted as office space for banks and other institutions, official sources said.

Aimed at making each metro station a ‘happening place’, half-a-dozen events, including cake/chocolate festivals and sale of curios made of recycled materials, were hosted during the past month. A musical event in coordination with St. Teresa’s College has been envisaged at the Vyttila station from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. on Saturday (October 30). All this will hopefully increase footfalls in metro trains, whose patronage has been hovering at an average of 35,000 a day, in comparison to over 4 lakh mentioned in the detailed project report.

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Printable version | Jan 27, 2022 6:05:51 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Kochi/kmrl-goes-into-cost-cutting-alternative-revenue-tapping-mode-to-tide-over-crisis/article37221209.ece

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