From becoming operational on schedule to employing transgenders, Kochi's new metro rail is the talk of the country. The metro's first phase, which is currently operational, has 25 stations across a stretch of 25.65 km, with trains plying between them. Each train has three coaches and can carry 975 passengers.
Among the metro's notable features is its state of the art ticketing system. Metro rail systems in India, such as those in Mumbai, Delhi, and Bengaluru either use RFID based cards or tokens as tickets, which can be used for a single journey. The Kochi Metro gives commuters other options too.
The RuPay card, introduced by the National Payments Corporation of India (NPCI), can be used in multiple transport facilities across Kochi, including the Metro rail. These chip-based pre-paid cards, that can also be used as a regular debit card for shopping and other purposes, are the first open loop cards in India. For a one-time journey, the commuter can get a QR code based ticket. There are QR code scanners at every station and, in the event of an emergency, handheld QR code scanners can also be used. The code can be generated in the smartphone or through an e-wallet linked to the RuPay card.
Kochi Metro handles the ticketing system with a four-level architecture. At the passenger's end, the NFC (Near Field Communication), the cards and the QR code form the first layer. The second layer comprises the station equipment such as readers and systems at a given station. The third layer consists of the station-level server which is handling and orchestrating all these parts. The final layer is the server host, the cloud and the bank system behind the firewall.
AGS Transact Technologies is one of the Kochi Metro partners along with ASIS from Turkey.
"We are delighted to be the technology partners of the ambitious first-of-its-kind Kochi Metro Project," Ravi B. Goyal, Chairman & Managing Director, AGS Transact Technologies Limited said in an emailed statement. "At AGSTTL, we believe that technology solutions such as the futuristic Automatic Fare Collection (AFC) system with Open Loop Smart Cards and QR Code tickets will establish a new benchmark for the trans industry and pave the way for smart travel in India."
"By offering an integrated structure of collection, compilation, and computing for AFC system, AGSTTL aims to ensure that the commuter has an efficient and hassle-free experience," the statement also said.
Passengers can opt to use either the NFC/RFID ticket or the QR code easily anytime. But to get an EVM prepaid card, they have to go through the KYC (Know Your Customer) process and provide an ID proof to the Kochi Metro.
The metro's signaling system is a unique communication-based train control (CBTC) implemented by the French company, Alstom. Trains will communicate with each other through the software to avoid accidents and delays.
Work on the 11.17 km long second phase has already begun. A total of 12 new stations will be added in this phase at a cost of ₹2,577 crores.