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Infrastructure

Thiruvananthapuram to Kasaragod in 4 hours! Check Indian Railways & Kerala govt’s semi high-speed SilverLine project

SilverLine, KeralaThe SilverLine project will allow passengers to travel from Kasaragod to Thiruvananthapuram in less than four hours on trains.

Kerala SilverLine Project: Last week, the Kerala state cabinet gave its nod to start the process of land acquisition for the upcoming SilverLine- the semi high-speed railway project aimed at reducing the time of travel between the northern and southern ends of the state. The project, estimated to cost Rs 63,940 crore, entails building a semi high-speed railway corridor through the state linking Thiruvananthapuram with Kasaragod. The proposed line, which is being executed by KRDCL, is 529.45 kilometres long. Once completed, the SilverLine will allow passengers to travel from Kasaragod to Thiruvananthapuram in less than four hours on trains travelling at a speed of 200 km per hour. On the existing Indian Railways network, the current travel time is 12 hours, according to an IE report.

What’s the need for the SilverLine project?
Urban policy experts have been long arguing that the existing rail infrastructure in Kerala cannot meet future demands. Due to a lot of curves and bends on the existing stretch, most trains run with an average speed of 45 km per hour. According to the government, the SilverLine project can take a significant load of traffic off the existing rail stretch as well as make travel faster and easier for passengers. Also, the project is expected to reduce the congestion on roads and help minimize accidents/fatalities.

What are the main features of the SilverLine project?
According to K-Rail, the semi high-speed railway project will have EMU-type trains with preferably nine cars and each of them extendable to 12 cars. A nine-car rake can accommodate a maximum of 675 people in standard and business class settings. The trains are capable to run at a maximum speed of 220 km per hour on standard gauge track, completing travel in each direction in under four hours. In total, 11 stations have been proposed including the two terminals, of which, three will be elevated, one underground, while the rest of them at grade. At a distance of every 500 metres of the corridor, there will be under passages with the provision of service roads. The line is also expected to help in the expansion of Ro-Ro services, reduce greenhouse gas emissions, generate job opportunities, integrate airports and IT corridors as well as faster development of cities it passes through.

What’s the project’s present alignment?
As per the government’s detailed project report (DPR), the alignment has been published by K-Rail. The line, starting from Thiruvananthapuram, will have stations in Kollam, Kottayam, Chengannur, Ernakulam (Kakkanad), Thrissur, Tirur, Cochin Airport, Kannur, Kozhikode and culminating in Kasaragod. The proposed Kozhikode station will be underground, while the stations at Thiruvananthapuram, Thrissur and Ernakulam will be elevated. The rest of the stations are at grade. Land of 1 acre has already been offered by Cochin International Airport Limited for the station there.

What is the current status of the project?
The SilverLine project has got a fillip with the Kerala cabinet formally giving the approval for the process of land acquisition. For the project, a total of 1,383 hectares are required to be acquired out of which 1,198 hectares of area will be private land. The cabinet has also given the nod for administrative sanction of Rs 2,100 crore from the Kerala Infrastructure Investment Fund Board, the government’s central investment arm. The central government has given in-principle approval for the SilverLine project, which is expected to be constructed using equity funds from the state government, Centre as well as loans from multilateral lending agencies.

Can the SilverLine project be completed on time?
For the project completion, the unofficial deadline is 2025, according to the report. However, many people are of the view that it is not a realistic target. One of the key challenges for the project is acquiring land, especially from private players in urban areas. Also, there is significant opposition by environmentalists citing potential damage to Kerala’s ecosystem in the path of the proposed railway route. Hence, the project’s pace would hinge on the ability of the government to assuage these concerns and speed up land acquisition, the report added.

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