The proposed Semi High-Speed Rail (SHSR) corridor from Thiruvananthapuram to Kasaragod will provide a faster and cleaner travel option to vast majority of people across the state as they will get connected to it from the existing stations and airports in major cities, K-Rail Managing Director V. Ajith Kumar pointed out during a special presentation on the Silver Line before the State legislators.
Minister for Public Works G. Sudhakaran, Speaker P. Sreeramakrishnan, Ministers and MLAs were also present. he project, which is set to bring about a qualitative change in infrastructure profile of the state, is being implemented by the K-Rail, a joint venture company of Government of Kerala and Ministry of Railways.
The special railway corridor has 532-km length, and it will take four hours to reach Kasaragod from the capital city passing through 11 districts. The Silver Line stations will be connected to the major cities in the State. Since it will also be linked to the international airports in Thiruvananthapuram and Kochi, a travel time of below two hours will be enough to reach any of these airports from Silver Line stations. The expatriates coming home will especially benefit from this.
Silver Line will also touch major employment hubs across the state like Technopark and Infopark proving to be socially and economically beneficial for tens of thousands of professionals working in these facilities. The aerial survey of the project has already been completed. The detailed project report (DPR) and alignment will be ready by March.
The SHSR line, which will be completed in five years, is expected to reduce both congestion and pollution by taking off about 7,500 vehicles from roads. Around 46,100 daily road users and 11,500 train commuters are expected to shift to Silver Line. This will result in saving of fuel cost by an estimated Rs 530 crore in the current prices.
As many as 500 trucks will stay away from roads with the freight movement starting through Silver Line, in the form of ‘RORO’ service. Silver Line will also be a boon for domestic and foreign tourists, who now rely on rail journey. In future, special tourist services can be operated through this line.
K-Rail will have to acquire about 1,226hectares of land for the project, which is about half the land required for four lane highways. Land acquisition is required on an average in 25metre width. Huge employment opportunities will emerge through the project. Around 50 lakh job opportunities will be offered during the construction period.
Between Thiruvananthapuram and Tirur (310 km), the line will pass by a stretch that is different from the existing railway line, since it has a large number of curves that limit the speed. From Tirur upward (222 km), the line will run parallel to the existing track up till Kasaragod.
Keeping in mind the maintenance aspect, the rail corridor will also have roads parallel to it. This will open up the land along the new rail corridor in terms of access.
The SHSR line is perceived as a green project. For this, K-Rail will be tying up with IIM-Ahmedabad. It plans to depend heavily on renewable energy and re-used concrete and steel. The corporation is set to adopt last-mile connectivity, with system-driven e-vehicle public transport system, multi-modal integration, charging and parking stations, which would take Kerala to next generation of urban mobility.
The feasibility study was conducted by Paris-based engineering and consulting group Systra for K-Rail. The project has an estimated cost of Rs 66,079 crore. The lion’s share of the fund will be raised through loans from international financial aid institutions.