Finally, the wait for Kerala's first metro service is almost over. The first phase of the Kochi Metro Rail will be inaugurated on June 17.
Kochi is the eighth city to get a metro rail, after Kolkata (1984), Delhi (2002), Bengaluru (2011), Jaipur (2013), Gurgaon (2013), Mumbai (2014) and Chennai (2015.)
And although the inaugural event has been mired in controversy, expectations for the Kochi Metro is already soaring.
Here are 12 reasons to be proud of Keralaâ€™s first metro service.
1) Kochi Metro, on time!
Unlike the Chennai Metro, Bengaluruâ€™s Namma Metro or the Hyderabad Metro, which has been dogged by delay and controversy, the first phase of the Kochi Metro has been completed in record time.
Kochi Metro Rail Limited (KMRL) Managing Director Elias George expressed contentment over the completion of the 13-km corridor up to Palarivattom in a path-breaking three years and nine months.
2) Sneha Yathra
After the Prime Minister Narendra Modi inaugurates the metro service on June 17, KMRL will organise a Sneha Yathra (The Journey of Love). The Sneha Yathra will give an opportunity to residents of orphanages and old-age homes affiliated to the Social Justice Department in the city, to take a ride on the prestigious metro, just before the service is thrown open to the public.
3) When gratitude is the key to greatness
KMRL took time out on Monday to pay thanks to nearly 800 migrant workers, whose sweat and blood made Keralaâ€™s first metro service a reality.
Honouring the workers with sadhya (a traditional Kerala meal served on a banana leaf), KMRL also organised an entertainment programme for the labourers as thanks. In return, the workers jotted down their names on a message board in support of the metro project.
4) Themed stations
All 11 stations have their own unique theme.
While the Palarivattom station has floral interiors, the CUSAT station has a water-theme. Fish paintings line the walls of Pathadippalam station, while Muttam has been given a bird theme.
5) Disabled friendly coaches
Apart from a special provision for wheelchairs, the coaches have reserved seats for people with disabilities. There are 136 seats in all trains. Seats meant for women traveling with children, children, and the elderly have also been coloured marked.
For people with physical illness/disabilities and pregnant women, the Kochi Metro comes with cushioned seats.
6) Job opportunities for women
Itâ€™s women power at Kochi Metro, with KMRL making it a point to give jobs to women in the state. From train operators to ground staff, the service has put women at the forefront.
There are 7 women train operators. Kudumbashree workers have also been employed by KMRL.
7) Going green
KMRL is planting saplings on the medians of the highway and some pillars, as part of the Greening Kochi scheme.
8) KMRL employs transgender persons
In a first of its kind initiative, KMRL has employed 23 transgender persons as ground staff.
The move is in tandem with Kerala government's efforts to empower transgender persons and bring them to the mainstream.
9) Solar panels in stations
Solar panels have been installed on the rooftop of all the stations. It is estimated that 2.3 MW of power can be generated out of all the panels.
10) Commitment towards eco-friendly transport
KMRL has launched the public bike sharing system under which commuters can use bicycles free of cost to travel short distance within the city limits. The initiative was launched on June 5, World Environment Day. KMRL MD Elias George IAS inaugurated the public bike sharing system by riding a bicycle.
11) Multi-model transport system
Kochi Water Metro, an integrated water transport has been envisaged to connect people residing near the Kochi backwaters to the mainland, thereby improving their livelihoods and economic status. Waterways would be used as a feeder service to KMRL, thereby helping reduce road traffic.
12) Train doors to close to the beat of chenda
Temples festivals are a big part of Keralaâ€™s culture.
And if reports are to be believed, the doors of the trains will close to the beat of chenda (drums).
(All photographs from Kochi Metro Rail/ Facebook page)