SWTD to offer conducted tours on Vega 120 in Kochi from April

March 29, 2024 12:57 am | Updated 12:57 am IST - KOCHI

The operation of the ferry had been confined to a limited stretch from Perumbalam following a technical snag.

The operation of the ferry had been confined to a limited stretch from Perumbalam following a technical snag. | Photo Credit: SPECIAL ARRANGEMENT

The fast ferry of the State Water Transport department (SWTD), Vega 120, which operated in the Vaikom-Ernakulam-Fort Kochi corridor till the pandemic struck, is set to operate conducted tours in the Kochi backwaters from April. The ferry had confined its operations to a limited stretch from Perumbalam following a technical snag. It was withdrawn from service in December 2022 and sent for dry-docking, sources said.

It remained off service, although it was initially slated to rejoin the fleet of ferries that operated in the passenger-dense Ernakulam-Fort Kochi corridor in August 2023. Vega, which had 40 seats in its air-conditioned (AC) cabin and 80 seats in its non-AC space, was popular since it covered the Ernakulam-Fort Kochi distance in around 12 minutes, as compared to 20 minutes that other ferries took. Its fare was ₹10, while those who travelled in the AC cabin paid ₹20.

A trial run was done on March 27 (Wednesday), where a technical snag was detected. This would be set right in another 10 days, following which it would commence its conducted tours off Marine Drive, the sources said. Such tours by its sister vessel in the Alappuzha-Pathiramanal corridor are high in demand just like SWTD’s ‘See Ashtamudi’ tour in a double-decked boat.

The agency is also readying to operate Indra, India’s largest solar-electric ferry, in the Kochi backwaters from April, it is learnt. The AC double-decker catamaran has 100 seats, while the upper deck provides a semi-open space for travellers. It would operate morning and post-noon tours.

The SWTD operates a fleet of five catamaran, twin-engine fibre boats on the Ernakulam-Fort Kochi route and four mono-hull steel boats on the Ernakulam-Vypeen route. The sixth catamaran ferry would join the fleet in April and the seventh in December, sources said.

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