Water Metro ferries to be rolled out in April 2022

The first Water Metro ferry undergoing trial on the Kochi backwaters.   | Photo Credit: THULASI KAKKAT

The first lot of Water Metro ferries will in all probability be launched in April 2022, a further revision on the extended deadline of December 25 this year, sources in Kochi Metro Rail Limited (KMRL) said.

According to the initial revised deadline, the ferries were expected to be rolled out in December 2020. This was postponed every few months, after the first couple of hybrid vessels, which were tailor-made to operate on both electric power and power from a diesel generator on board, reportedly encountered teething problems related to propulsion systems.

The latest revision of deadline to April 2022 will make their launch come 14 months after the Vyttila-Kakkanad route was commissioned by Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan in February 2021.

Back in September, the metro agency had said the ferries would initially kick off operations in the Vypeen-Bolgatty-High Court-Eloor-Cheranalloor corridor and a few other routes where boat jetties were under different stages of completion, from December-end.

“The first batch of five vessels will operate from April,” said KMRL managing director Loknath Behera. The metro agency has entrusted the construction of a total of twenty-three 50-seater ferries conceived in the first phase of the project to Cochin Shipyard.

Glitches rectified

Sources said Cochin Shipyard had set right technical glitches that the first couple of ferries had encountered, which delayed their sea trials. A few problems like the ones associated with their ‘battery power’ have been sorted out. The vessels ought to go through more trials to ensure their foolproof operation, they added.

Such teething issues had resulted in they undergoing basin trials for an extensive period. This resulted in the Centre and other stakeholders being critical of the delay in launching the ferries.

Indigenous technologies

On the vast many components of Water Metro ferries being sourced from abroad, Sandith Thandassery, a naval architect whose firm built Aditya, India’s first solar-powered ferry which won global acclaim, said the ferries could have been launched way earlier had the shipyard banked on technologies that were available within the country.

“One ought to learn from ship operators from Europe who outsource labour-intensive works like hull construction to developing countries, while banking on their own technology for installing key components. It is under this circumstance that I shot off letters to the Prime Minister’s Office and the Ministry of Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) earlier this year, taking offence at qualified firms within India / Kerala not being part of the Water Metro project,” he said.

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Printable version | Jan 17, 2022 4:31:54 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Kochi/water-metro-ferries-to-be-rolled-out-in-april-2022/article37815853.ece

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