Kerala chief minister Pinarayi Vijayan Monday inaugurated a 1.33 km-long section of the Kochi Metro between Thykoodam and Petta, wrapping up phase 1 of operations of the project. The Kochi Metro now runs on a 25-km long fully-elevated section between Aluva and Petta with 20 stations in between.
The chief minister flagged off the first train from Petta station through video-conference from Thiruvananthapuram with Union Minister for Civil Aviation, Housing and Urban Affairs Hardeep Singh Puri in attendance in New Delhi. Ernakulam MP Hibi Eden, MLAs PT Thomas and M Swaraj, Kochi Mayor Soumini Jain and Ernakulam district collector S Suhas were physically present at the Petta station during the inauguration and subsequently rode the first train heading towards Aluva.
The extension of the Metro service till Petta incidentally came on the day that Metro services resumed across the country as part of the Unlock 4 measures of the Centre. The chief minister said the extension till Petta was ready in March, but owing to the pandemic and the subsequent lockdown, the formal inauguration was pushed to September.
The event also marked the culmination of the association of Delhi Metro Rail Corporation (DMRC) with Kochi Metro as a consulting agency. Subsequent phases, including the extension from Petta till Thrippunithura, and the proposed corridor from JLN station to Infopark via Kakkanad, of construction and operationalisation will be helmed by the Kochi Metro Rail Limited (KMRL), the parent company running the Metro service. While the construction works on the extension till Thrippunithura are already underway, a detailed project report (DPR) on the Infopark corridor is awaiting clearance from the Centre.
Similar to other stations of the Kochi Metro, the design of the Petta station is also linked to the culture, history and ethos of Kerala. The station’s interior designs are dedicated to the fishermen community who played a laudable role during the 2018 and 2019 floods.
With the resumption of services amid the Covid pandemic, KMRL has put in place stringent safety precautions. All travellers have to wear masks compulsorily and ensure social distancing while sitting inside the trains. Infrared thermometers and sanitisers will be available at entry-points. Air-conditioning inside the trains has been set at 26 degrees celsius with humidity maintained at 70%. At each station, trains will pause for 20 seconds to ensure ventilation.
To provide financial respite to commuters, the KMRL has announced discounts on the Kochi1 card and brought down the maximum fare from Rs 60 to Rs 50 for all travellers. In the revised fare structure, there will be four slabs of Rs 10, Rs 20, Rs 30 and Rs 50. Rates of weekday and weekend passes have been cut down as well to encourage commuters to travel by the Metro.