The first phase of Kochi Metro became fully operational on Tuesday with the inauguration of the second stretch of the 18 km route by Union Urban Development Minister Hardeep Singh Puri and Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan.
The first 13 km stretch was inaugurated in June this year by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
Both Puri and Vijayan rode on the second stretch (5 km) from Kaloor to Maharaja’s College and back and then drove to the Town Hall for a public meeting.
Also present during the ride was “Metro Man” E. Sreedharan, who was entrusted the job to see that it becomes a reality. Besides, Leader of Opposition Ramesh Chennithala, local legislator Hibi Eden and Ernakulam Lok Sabha member K.V. Thomas were also present.
As happened in June, when Vijayan named Sreedharan, there was a huge round of applause.
With the 18 km stretch fully operational, it would take 32 minutes to cover the distance, that usually takes 90 minutes by road.
The new five km stretch would see the metro operations touch at two of the city’s major railway stations and also the Jawahar Lal Nehru Stadium — the venue for the U-17 FIFA World Cup, that stages its first match on Saturday.
Kochi Metro authorities expect with the new stretch getting operational, the daily traffic would double and witness around 60,000 passengers.
The second phase (7 km) of the project is also spread over two stretches. The work is progressing in the first stretch of 5 km.
The total length of Kochi Metro (till Tripunithura) including both phases is 25 km. The second phase is expected to be ready in another three years’ time.
The work on Kochi Metro began in 2012 after the former Oommen Chandy-led Kerala government entrusted the project to Sreedharan.