On Tuesday, the Ministry of Railways granted in-principle approval for the ‘Silver Line’ project, a proposal of the Kerala government that involves laying the third and fourth railway lines from Kasaragod in the north to Kochuveli (Thiruvananthapuram) in the south for the movement of semi high-speed trains. The project aims to cut the travel time between the two corners from 12 hours to less than four hours.
What was the need for such a project?
Kerala’s road networks are clogged and experience dense traffic during peak hours. According to data shared by experts, less than 10% of the state’s roads handle nearly 80% of the traffic. This also gives rise to accidents and casualties; in 2018, Kerala recorded 4,259 deaths and 31,687 grievous injuries.
Experts have been demanding faster transportation options including railways and waterways. However, the current railway network is congested with a large number of trains, level crossings and sharp curves. The fastest train, plying between Thiruvananthapuram and Kasaragod, takes nearly 12 hours to cover 532 km.
The Silver Line project, conceived at least a decade ago, aims to connect major districts and towns with semi high-speed trains that will run on their own tracks.
What does the Silver Line project entail?
The 532-km corridor is projected to be built at a cost of Rs 56,443 crore. Trains would complete the journey at four hours instead of 12, with a maximum speed of 200 km/h.
The corridor will be built away from the existing line between Thiruvananthapuram and Thrissur. But in the Thrissur-Kasaragod section, it will run parallel to the existing tracks. The semi high-speed trains will traverse through 11 of the state’s 14 districts, Alappuzha, Wayanad and Idukki being the exceptions. There are also plans to connect the corridor with the international airports at Kochi and Thiruvananthapuram. The project is scheduled to be commissioned by 2024.
Who will implement the project?
The Kerala Rail Development Corporation (K-Rail), a joint venture between the Ministry of Railways and the Kerala government to execute projects on a cost-sharing basis, will be the nodal agency. The government is believed to be looking at external funding agencies. An initial investment is likely to be made by K-Rail for acquiring land. A Detailed Project Report (DPR) will be commissioned soon.
Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan said the construction will result in direct and indirect employment opportunities for 50,000 people, and the project once completed would create direct employment for at least 11,000 people.
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