Residents of Vaikom can now reach Kochi refreshed in one hour and 45 minutes by boat. The Kerala State Water Transport Department has introduced the air-conditioned boat 'Vega 120' on the route. Vega is the biggest such vessel in service in Kerala.
The trip is aimed to benefit not only regular commuters but also tourists. Vaikom to Kochi by bus takes over two hours owing to heavy traffic even though the scheduled running time is one hour and 25 minutes. By taking the AC ferry, passengers can avoid hassles like the dust and grime of roads, the ordeal of crawling through heavy traffic, the heavy rush in buses and reaching the office in sweat.
35 km in one hour and 45 minutes
In fact, passengers from Vaikom boat jetty in Kottayam district can reach the jetty near Subhash Park in the heart of Ernakulam by the boat service, which has four stops along the way. The distance of 35 km is covered approximately in the time taken for a football match.
There are 40 seats in the AC section of the ferry and 80 in the non-AC area. While Rs 80 is charged for an AC seat, the ticket for a non-AC seat costs Rs 40. However, prior booking facility has not been introduced. The capacity of the vessel is 124, including four crew members.
The first trip of Vega starts from Vaikom at 7.30 am to reach Ernakulam by 9.15 am. During the return trip, the boat leaves Ernakulam jetty at 5.30 pm and reaches Vaikom before 7.30 pm. Meanwhile, after arriving in Ernakulam from Vaikom in the morning, Vega conducts services to Fort Kochi.
The long-distance ferry service has been launched to boost the transport along the National Waterways in the state.
Sights from Vega
A fast ferry, Vega does not travel along the waterways of the interiors. From Vaikom, the sights of Kochi city can be noticed soon after reaching Panavally jetty. Vega takes the Aroor-Thevara lake route to Kochi. When passengers get weary watching the scenery they can enjoy the music played in the ferry or engage in reading.
Authorities said that facilities like Wi-Fi, TV and snack bar would also be introduced in the boat shortly. While the AC cabin is sound-proof, passengers at the rear of the open area will be bothered by the engine noise and vibration. The ferry also has a bio toilet.
Vega has two diesel engines of 340 hp each. Its top speed is 14 nautical miles (25.9 kmph), while the regular service is conducted at 12 knots (22 kmph). For a day’s trip the ferry consumes 300 litres of diesel, which is 40 per cent more fuel efficient than other boats of the same class. Vega extends 25 m in length, 7 m in breadth and has a draft of 1.5 m. Its total is 24.56 tonnes.
The cabin boasts of features like navigation and digital console monitoring system. Life jackets and fire and rescue equipment are also provided.
Vega has been built by Navgathi Marine Design and Constructions, which earlier created the solar boat. Designed by Sandeep Thandassery, Vega incurred a cost of Rs 1.85 crore.