19 October 2018

Interaction- A.P.M. Mohammed Hanish, MD, Kochi Metro Rail Ltd.

A key focus of KMRL is to integrate all public transportation modes

Kochi Metro Rail has a number of firsts to its credit like the first Indian Metro to have a Communication Based Train Control signalling system, Automatic Fare collection System, train running information in GTFS format open to commuters and solar panels on the rooftop of all 22 stations to name a few. In an exclusive interview to CONSTRUCTION OPPORTUNITIES, A.P.M. MOHAMMED HANISH, MD, KOCHI METRO RAIL LTD, spoke  on the current status of the project and its long term impacts.


What makes Kochi Metro Rail Ltd (KMRL) one of the most modern and innovative metro rail systems in India?

  • Kochi Metro is the first Indian Metro to have a CBTC (COMMUNICATION BASED TRAIN CONTROL) signaling system. Our trains are UTO compatible.
  • The integrated transport system that KMRL has planned for Kochi Metro is one that involves a single transit card, integrated timetable with a command and control center. A first-of-its-kind agreement was signed with Axis Bank for implementing an Automatic Fare collection System (AFC) on PPP mode with an open loop EMV Pre-paid card, which can also be used for other commercial purposes than transit.
  • A key focus of KMRL is to integrate all public transportation modes, be it waterway traffic, taxies and Auto Rickshaws or private and KSRTC Buses under one centralized management system; whereby all the routes and timings would be harmonized with the commuters in mind.  Eventually a single ticketing system also needs to be introduced for all public transport systems, as is the case in many western countries.  The Govt. of Kerala has prepared the law for setting up a ‘Unified Metropolitan Transport Authority’, with these objectives in mind and it is expected to come in the current assembly session.. Private bus operators have formed 7 companies and 9 auto rickshaw unions have formed a single society to enable these changes.
  • KMRL is the first transit operator in India to open up its train running information in GTFS format. This will enable a more commuter friendly, inclusive and informed transit information ecosystem in the city
  • KMRL is also planning a Rs.click and collect’ system whereby the commuter on the Metro system will be able to order goods and services using this Debit Card which can be delivered at our Metro stations. The tender for the same has been floated
  • All stations are based on different themes connected to Kerala
  • All station activities are managed by a women self help group called Kudumbashree (A project under poverty eradication program of Government of Kerala) to be the best example of social inclusion
  • First Government agency to engage people from transgender community in ticketing, customer relations and house keeping.



You are also one of the first metro rail projects to make extensive use of solar power at your stations. How successful has the experiment been?

The present Phase-I of the Kochi Metro Rail Project has 22 stations and 1 depot. KMRL is placing solar panels on the rooftop of all 22 stations and buildings in the Metro yard. The installation capacity of the roof top project is 4 MWp. The rooftop project is being implemented through Renewable Energy Service Company (RESCO) model, where the vendor would do the complete investment of nearly 27 crores as well as the operation and maintenance and KMRL will buy the power from the vendor, M/S Hero Solar Energy (P) Ltd. for a cost of Rs.5.51/- for next 25 years. This is the lowest rate in which any metro projects in India is getting solar power.

Recently, KMRL and  AMP Solar India Private Ltd have signed the Power Purchase Agreement (PPA) for 2.3MWp Solar Power through a ground mounted solar plant on the land available in the Muttom Depot. This would raise the total solar power generated by the Kochi Metro Rail Project to 6.3 MWp.



You have managed to significantly cut your losses in the months of January and February. How do you propose to increase the share of your non-ticket revenue?

KMRL is earning an average of 10 lakhs per day as the non-fare box revenue now. We have just started to sell our spaces inside stations. Once, the process is done, we are hopeful to bring down the difference between operational expense and the revenue



You strongly advocate raising funds through the public-private partnership (PPP) mode. Of late there is also this view that some part of the investment in a project like metro rail must also be appropriately recovered from direct beneficiaries (e.g., housing or commercial establishments located close to a project), other than the direct users to make capital-intensive projects beneficial from an operational perspective. Your view

The Automated Fare Collection (AFC) system is a critical core component of any Metro system.  KMRL has developed a unique PPP model where in the capital investment as well as the maintenance cost is taken care by a bank and in return the bank to have a co-branded card for Kochi Metro System. Axis bank had won the tender and apart from what was envisaged in the tender, they are also paying KMRL a royalty of Rs.209 crore over the next 10 years for the right to be the partner in this endeavour. In addition to this, 0.2 per cent of gross revenues, from the utilisation of this debit card outside KMRL’s ecosystem in various mercantile outlets and Internet transactions, will also accrue to KMRL over the next 10 years. This is the first time such an innovative model is being launched anywhere in the world and is expected to change funding models for AFC systems in the metro industry globally. We understand that many upcoming metros are following this pattern. To minimise the operational loss, KMRL is also planning to come up with a state of the art township project near the IT Hub of Kochi with Residential, commercial, recreational and business spaces.



Thousands living on the islands off Kochi are expected to benefit from the proposed Water Metro. However, given the apprehensions being expressed on floating of tenders for purchase of boats to relocation of shops from a certain area, will you be able to launch the first phase of the Kochi Water Metro Project on schedule by April 2019?

The project is pushed a bit further to May 2019, as there is few more alterations based on the deliberations on the details of some changes in the DPR (Detailed Project Report). Based on the updated traffic survey, the number of boats has been changed from 78  to 76, with more numbers of higher capacity (100pax) boats and 3 additional jetties were added to the project, increasing it from 38 to 41 jetties, thus enabling KMRL to achieve a higher level of passenger service in through this project. Otherwise, the project is well on schedule. The project envisages the development of 16 identified routes, connecting 10 islands along a network of routes that span 76km. The project intends for a fleet of 76 fast, fuel efficient, air-conditioned ferries playing to 41 jetties, 18 of which will be developed as main boat hubs, while the remaining 23 will be minor jetties for transit services. More than 100,000 islanders are expected to benefit from the water metro, complete with modern watercrafts.



Certain provisions of the Land Acquisition and Rehabilitation and Resettlement Act 2013 have caused delays to public welfare projects like metro rail. How can this situation can be best resolved under the present circumstances?

We have started acquiring the land as per the new Act



In February, KMRL submitted a revised detailed project report for the 11-km-long Kakkanad extension under second phase of the project in accordance with the federal government’s new metro rail policy. The state government will forward it to the Center for approval. What are the key modifications in the plan?

  • Conducted an alternative analysis to determine the most suitable mode of MRTS for that stretch of the city
  • Included Value Capture Financing as part of the recommendations
  • Included feeder, access roads and NMT as part of the project
  • Included PPP components in AFC and station Infrastructure

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