The Board of Directors of Kerala Rail Development Corporation (K-Rail) has approved the Detailed Project Report (DPR) and alignment of the Rs. 63,941 crore Thiruvananthapuram-Kasaragod Semi High Speed Rail corridor.
The DPR will now be submitted to the Government of Kerala for approval, and thereafter to the Ministry of Railways. It also requires the approval of Niti Aayog and the Central Cabinet.
The DPR, drawn up by K-Rail’s general consultant Paris-based M/s Systra, proposes to construct railway lines between Thiruvananthapuram and Tirur as a Green Field Corridor and those between Tirur and Kasaragod as a parallel to the existing Railway alignment. It was approved by a meeting of the board held on April 15.
A dream project called ‘Silverline’, the SHSR corridor will spur the economic and social development of the state, the corridor will enable running of trains at an operational speed of 200 Km per hour. This will facilitate to reach Ernakulam in one-and-a- half hours and up north Kasaragod in four hours from the state capital.
As per the DPR, the alignment of the corridor is same as that was approved earlier as part of the feasibility report, except for some minor modifications of plus or minus 10 to 50 meters to avoid religious/heritage structures.The 530.6 Km Standard Gauge 1435 mm line is expected to be completed by 2025 with the work starting this year.
While 52 per cent of the total cost will be raised as loan, the remaining expenditure will be met by the Centre and the State Government and by participation of financial institutions. The Financial Internal Rate of Return of the project is estimated to be 8.49% over 50 years. The line is expected to have a ridership of 79,934 persons per day in 2025-26.
“Cutting through the entire length of the state covering 11 districts and touching major towns, Silverline is going to be a game-changer as far as infrastructure development of Kerala is concerned. It will increase connectivity and bring economic hubs, airports, health facilities and cultural amenities across the state close,” said Shri V Ajith Kumar, Managing Director, K-Rail.
He said the corridor, which will have 11 stations including Cochin airport, would give a big boost to tourism which plays a major role in the state’s economy.
A joint venture of the Ministry of Railways and Kerala Government, ahead of the preparation of the DPR a series of scientific studies including Aerial LIDAR survey had been completed ,looking into various aspects of the project including the environmental impact before finalizing the alignment.
EMU Type trains of nine cars with a seating capacity of 675 are to be operated on the line. There will be business class and standard class seats on coaches.
The DPR for Silver Line Project was completed last month but the meeting of Board of Directors was postponed due to the outbreak of COVID-19.
During the construction stage, the project will provide thousands of jobs and boost an entire set of downstream business activities, which will especially be a social and economic boon in the post-COVID 19 scenario.
A highlight of the project is its total adherence to green protocol and it will also sharply reduce the pollution caused by fossil fuel driven road traffic, especially the long-haul freight movement.