While the mini train project at Veli is nearing completion, the Water Metro Project is expected to soon be in the works.

A red and green mini train chugging across a track
news Environment Monday, September 14, 2020 - 21:45

Two new solar powered projects will be launched in a major boost to eco-friendly tourism and transport services in Kerala. On Saturday, the trial run of a mini train at the Veli tourism village in Thiruvananthapuram was completed. The train, installed at a cost of Rs 9 crore, is entirely solar powered and is expected to attract tourist attention to the village.

“This is an initiative to improve eco-friendly tourism in the state. The Veli Tourist Village is a tourist hub and the train, which is modelled on yesteryear steam engines, will puff artificial steam and chug across the artificial lake for 1.5 kilometres up and down,” an official at the site told news channels.

Photo credits: Kerala Tourism website 

The artificial lake at Veli meets the Arabian Sea. The mini train, which has a 50-person capacity (48 passengers and two staff members including driver) will run past the lake and the beach, through a railway tunnel and a 60-metre railway bridge. Most importantly, the roof of the three train coaches will have solar panels installed, which will directly power its engine. The extra solar energy generated will also be directed to the Kerala State Electricity Board grid.

“It will start at the entrance of the Veli village and stop at the Pozhikara railway station. A mini railway station modelled in the old school way has also been constructed for the train,” the official added.

The 10 feet long train will take its passengers on a 25-minute ride and will go at a maximum speed of 15 kilometres per hour. To add some old-world charm, old fashioned arm signals will also be added to the coaches. In addition to this, track changing points, turntables to turn the engines around, wood meshing, fibreglass partition and a steel frame will also be installed to ensure passenger safety.

Each coach of the train can carry 12-16 passengers and its rolling stock has been designed based on international standards. The 9-crore miniature project has been executed by the Uralungal Labour Contract Society. The village of Veli itself will see Rs 30 crore worth of development work including a swimming pool, a tourist facilitation centre and a convention centre on 20 acres of land.

The mini train will officially be inaugurated and carry passengers once the COVID-19 restrictions have been removed.

Kochi Water Metro project 

Another big budget solar powered feeder service project is the Kochi Water Metro. Last week, when Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan announced the completion of Phase 1 of Kochi Metro, he also said that works for the Water Metro project will soon begin. 

The Water Metro is essentially a fleet of aluminium ferries that will be introduced, mainly to connect passengers to Kochi metro stations. The project will be completed at a cost of Rs 747 crore and will include 78 such ferries, which will be solar powered.

The ferries will operate on solar power, mainly from land based solar plants located on top of boat terminals or floating boats known as pontoons. In order to run air-conditioned ferries, the KMRL is also thinking of setting up a solar power plant in the vicinity to increase the amount of power generated. As a back-up however, each of the ferries will also have diesel generators which will be used in case there is a power shortage from the solar panels. 

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