It was a year since Kochi Metro gave the city’s landscape an uber cool look sparking off first anniversary celebrations ranging from cake cutting to free rides on the metro.
Far away from the festivities was E. Sreedharan, the brain behind Kochi Metro and who since has moved on in his pursuit of other dreams such as FRNV.
In an exclusive interview given to 'Mathrubhumi' coinciding with the anniversary, Sreedharan opened up on a slew of topics while not shying away from giving a mild rap on the knuckles of the government for not getting its priorities right in promoting public transport. The Delhi Metro Rail Corporation's Principal Advisor also bats for slashing ticket rates to attract more commuters to Kochi Metro. Excerpts from the Interview:
KMRL should save money
Kochi Metro Rail Limited should tighten the purse strings and adopt austerity measures to reduce the operation loss of metro. Drastic reduction in manpower and power consumption charges will be in order. Remember, a rupee saved is a rupee earned. Ticket rates have to be reduced to attract more passengers since Metro is a public transport service and it is essential to make it affordable and attractive.
Need to upgrade rail and road network
Rail and Road networks are in need of emergency upgradation to improve the public transport system. The State Government does not seems to have their priorities in place in this regard. What Kerala need is a good, reliable, fast and affordable public transport system, both rail-based and road-based. It is imperative to have an additional north-south high speed rail corridor to siphon road users to the rail.
The present rail network has to be upgraded with automatic signalling, which will double the rail capacity and enable more commuter trains to be introduced.
The road-based public transport system has to be completely revamped by introducing air-conditioned buses with orderly and frequent services set to a time table so that road users shift to public transport from personalised vehicles. Improving conditions of the roads and their widening with more flyovers is urgent. Private participation needs to be encouraged by extending appropriate incentives.
Pettah still a distant dream
Works on the Maharajas– Thaikoodam section of Kochi Metro are progressing well and this section will be commissioned by June 2019. Work is yet to be commenced in many stretches along the Thaikoodam-Pettah, thanks to the delay in handing over several parcels of land.
Kochi Metro needs to focus more on non-ticket revenues. Frequency of trains has to be increased and link services need to be introduced to points like airport, boat jetty, high court etc to improve the ridership.
Partial commissioning will not help any metro to realise the expected volume of traffic. However, compared to other Metros, the daily ridership of more than 30,000 over a length of 18kms is truly encouraging. Kochi Metro has adopted some of the latest technologies and certainly it is one of the best Metros in the world today.
Kochi landmark achievement
Completion of 18km of Kochi Metro in a short period of 4 years is a landmark achievement. Both DMRC and KMRL can be really proud of it. Kochi Metro has been "a dream come true" for the people of Kochi. It has certainly exceeded the expectations of the people.
Vytila lacks planning
Sufficient preparatory works were not planned and completed before undertaking Vytila and Kundannoor flyovers. Now we have to live with this congestion till the works are completed. Vytila and Kundannoor flyovers will only benefit the traffic through National Highway and not the city traffic.
Value education need of the hour
In my capacity as President of FRNV (Foundation for Restoration of National Values), we are trying to instill ethics, values and principles among the young generation, particularly school children. We are also working with the Government to improve the standard of technical education and to create an excellent academic environment in the campuses. Certainly you can expect FRNV playing a bigger role in this area from this academic year onwards.
Improving the quality of life of Kochi citizens is another area we are focussing on. This includes eradication of water logging during monsoon and controlling the mosquito menace.