Kochi: The fastest inland ferry 'Vega 120' covered the 35-km Vaikom-Ernakulam section well within the promised two-hour travel time in its maiden trip on Monday morning against "adverse" conditions.
"It was high tide (water from sea flowing into backwaters) and hence the boat had to tide against the flow, making it slow. Otherwise we could have arrived here 10 to 15 minutes earlier. Even after that, the boat reached Ernakulam Jetty at 9.25 am after starting from Vaikom at 7.30 am," said M Sujith, Ernakulam Traffic Superintendent.
The modern ferry, rolled out by Kochi-based Navgathi Marine Design and Constructions, is equipped with GPS and Sonar systems.
The boat, with 71 passengers (61 in non AC section and 10 in AC cabin), was under live tracking of the SWTD authorities at Ernakulam and Vaikom with help of the GPS system.
"There are a couple of spots where the waterway is shallow. However, we could calculate the depth in advance using the Sonar meter. The boat negotiated such sections at low speed," a member of the crew said.
While the boat could attain a maximum speed of 23 km/hr in the Aroor-Ernakulam section, it negotiated the Vaikom-Aroor section at a maximum speed of 18 km/hr. The first trip collection totalled to Rs 2,730.
Meanwhile, the Port Trust on Monday conducted the final inspection and given nod for operation of the ferry in the Kochi backwaters.
"From tomorrow onwards, we'll conduct trips to Kamalakadavu (Fort Kochi) after the boat reaches Ernakulam jetty in the morning and till it returns to Vaikom in the evening," the official said....