Commuters in Kochi may get services of light trams

Metro agency to discuss feasibility of project with firm that deals with ‘light trams’ on April 8

Updated - April 08, 2024 10:55 pm IST

Published - April 08, 2024 10:37 pm IST

The MG Road-Menaka-Park Avenue Road-MG Road corridor may get light trams as it will help KMRL overcome the challenges of substantial land acquisition and massive capital investment for conventional metro.

The MG Road-Menaka-Park Avenue Road-MG Road corridor may get light trams as it will help KMRL overcome the challenges of substantial land acquisition and massive capital investment for conventional metro. | Photo Credit: H. VIBHU

Even as Kochi Metro Rail Limited (KMRL) is awaiting a Comprehensive Mobility Plan (CMP) for the city to revise its blueprint for the ‘metro neo’ extension that was proposed on the 4-km MG Road-Menaka-Park Avenue Road-Hospital Road-MG Road loop line, officials of a firm that deals with ‘light trams’ are expected to meet their KMRL counterparts here on Tuesday (April 9), it is learnt.

They would discuss, among others, the feasibility of operating such ‘light trams’, an improvised version of the bus-rapid transport system, in this loop line and in other corridors where constructing a conventional metro would entail substantial land acquisition and massive capital investment. If realised, this would become a feeder service for the Kochi metro, helping improve patronage in the metro’s Aluva-MG Road-Thripunithura phase-1 corridor. It would also integrate the metro with Water Metro ferries that operate from the High Court terminal.

Such light trams operate in, among other places, Brisbane. Tuesday’s discussion will shed light on whether they can be operated in Thiruvananthapuram and Kozhikode, apart from Kochi. The firm is learnt to have reached out to KMRL in this regard. These trams that resemble metro coaches can be operated through roads, much like buses.

The metro agency was hitherto mulling metro neo, yet another mass rapid transport system (MRTS) that can be built at less than a fourth of the cost of conventional metro, through this loop line in the city hub, and also in the 6-km Thripunithura-Infopark corridor. A decision would be taken in the coming days on which system is apt for the city, after considering the savings in capital investment and also operation and maintenance expenses, it is learnt.

Commuting needs

A blueprint for metro neo had been readied in 2022, based on, among others, data regarding the travelling pattern of commuters. This shed light on commuting needs beyond MG Road to passenger-dense locales like High Court Junction, Marine Drive, Menaka-Ernakulam Market-Broadway commercial hub, and Park Avenue Road which is flanked by Children’s Park, Subhash Bose Park, Rajendra Maidan, a host of educational institutions, and places of worship.

Systems like metro neo and light trams are not only much cheaper, but are considered sustainable than conventional metro, while carrying approximately similar number of commuters.

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