Prime Minister Narendra Modi inaugurated Kerala’s first metro on Saturday in Kochi. It is the first metro rail service in a tier-II city. While the inauguration will be held at Jawaharlal Nehru International Stadium, Modi took a ride from Palarivattom to Pathadippalam before the official ceremony.

“Coaches reflect ‘Make in India’ vision,” Modi said. “They have been built by Alstom near Chennai, & have Indian component of around 70%.” The prime minister also lauded Kerala for its high literacy rate. “There can be no joy greater than reading &no strength greater than knowledge. Kerala had been an inspiration to whole nation in literacy,” he said.

On the dais, the prime minister was seen with Union Urban Development Minister M Venkaiah Naidu, Kerala Governor P Sathasivam, Chief Minister P Vijayan, Opposition leader Ramesh Chennithala and ‘Metro Man’ E Sreedharan. Earlier, there were reports that Sreedharan was not invited to the event. Reacting to it, Sreedharan had said, “The security of the prime minister is important,” according to The Indian Express. However, he was included in the final list of invitees made by the Prime Minister’s Office.

The total length of the network is 25 kilometres. The stretch that is being inaugurated on Saturday will see trains running for 13 kilometres, covering 11 stations between Palarivattam in Kochi and the neighbouring town of Aluva. By road, the journey takes about 45 minutes while the metro rail will complete it in 23 minutes.

The Kochi Metro Rail Corporation has hired 23 transgender people, who will be placed in different departments across the stations. Besides, around 700 women from below poverty line (BPL) families will be appointed as train operators, reported The Indian Express.