Close on the heels of the launch of 78 Water Metro ferries in the Greater Kochi area, Kochi Metro Rail Limited (KMRL) is keen to launch a handful of such vessels in Alappuzha and Kollam to cater for backwater tourists.
A fleet in the making
The Cochin Shipyard has handed over nine of the twenty-three 100-passenger electric-hybrid ferries to the metro agency. The delivery of the rest is expected to get over by the end of the year, according to official sources. The order for 55 smaller 50-passenger ferries is expected to follow suit. A few of them are likely to be operated with private participation.
Orders can be placed for a few more boats to ferry backwater tourists in Alappuzha and locales such as Munroe Thuruth in Kollam that have tremendous backwater tourism potential. This can be realised by investing approximately ₹50 crore, including for terminals. The boats could be scaled up based on response for air-conditioned vessels, said official sources.
Competition between agencies
The metro agency seems to have taken a cue from the popularity of tourist boats that are operated by the State Water Transport department (SWTD) in the two districts and at Kumarakom. The SWTD had on its part risen to potential competition from Water Metro ferries in Kochi by replacing its ageing steel ferries with modern catamaran ferries made of fibre-reinforced plastic.
KMRL is soon expected to identify land for a solar farm in the State, adhering to green mobility norms. The power generated from the panels is expected to be sold to the Kerala State Electricity Board (KSEB) in return for power to recharge batteries of Water Metro ferries, it is learnt.