City Interventions

Cochin Urban Transport

Country: India
City: Cochin

Key Stakeholders and PartnersKochi Municipal Corporation, State Government of Kerala, German development bank KfW

CDIA SupportUS$ 396,153

Expected Downstream Financing$150 million (KfW)

Infrastructure sectorsUrban Transport

CDIA priority impact areasClimate Change Mitigation and Adaptation; Environmental Improvement; Good Governance; Poverty Reduction

Key City Development Issues

Spread over 10 islands and crisscrossed by backwaters and the Arabian sea, Kochi is one of the fastest-growing cities in India. From an ancient port city, it is now a well-developed trading center and a hub for information technology, sea-based industries, and tourism in the country. Water transport has played a pivotal role in the growth and development of Kochi and the State of Kerala in general. At the beginning of 20th century, 90% of residents in Kerala were using small boats to reach the mainland, where they can sell their products. Over time, however, they started shifting to road-based transport as new roads and bridges were built. Now, less than 3% of residents are using inland water transport.

In Kochi, this modal shift has contributed to traffic congestion and pollution, as exacerbated by unplanned urban sprawl; limited road network; and private vehicle ownership, which is almost doubling per year.

Details of Cooperation

In 2010, CDIA supported the Kochi Municipal Corporation with a pre-feasibility study (PFS) on the ferry services investment proposal to alleviate road congestion and address the transport needs of island communities within Kochi’s extensive network of waterways. It also helped link the project to potential financiers and assisted in institutional strengthening.

Building on the CDIA recommendations, the Government of Kerala, through KMRL prepared a detailed project report in 2015, which then became the basis for negotiating with the German development bank, KfW a long-term loan amounting to €85 million to implement the Kochi Water Metro Project.

Development Impacts

The Kochi Water Metro Project will connect Kochi’s island communities with the mainland through a fleet of 78 battery-operated electric hybrid boats plying along 38 modern terminals and 15 routes spanning 76 kilometers. Phase 1 has started commercial operation in April 2023 and in three months, more than 600,000 passengers have already benefited from a fast, reliable, and state-of-the-art passenger transport option. The project is a pioneering initiative in sustainable urban water transport as it is environment-friendly with expected climate co-benefits. It also has inclusive and gender-responsive features that even persons with disabilities can safely and conveniently get in and out of the boats irrespective of tidal variations.

Download: Final Report      


Key City informationKochi City is one of the fastest-growing metro cities in India with a population of 625,345 and an extended metropolitan population of 2.2 million. Its island communities have greatly contributed to its recent economic growth with substantial investments seen in ship-building and other sea-based industries, information technology, tourism, and other developments along the shores of its backwaters.

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