The Kerala government has given its approval to building of a rail line to enable semi-high speed trains between the southern-most district to the northern district of the state. The total project cost is estimated at around Rs 66,079 crore. The approval was given by the Cabinet on Wednesday.
The special railway corridor will run for 532 km between upstate Kasaragod and the capital city of Thiruvananthapuram. The government aims to commence it by 2024. Of the Rs 66,079 crore, Rs 34,454 crore will be obtained as loans. The Centre and state will need to provide Rs 7,720 crore each. The Kerala government will spend Rs 8,656 crore on land acquisition and allied matters. The rest of the expenses will be met through other loans by the Union and state governments.
The project will be executed by Kerala Rail Development Corporation Limited (KRDCL), a joint venture of the Government of Kerala and Ministry of Railways.
The completion of the double line spanning 532 km is expected to reduce congestion along the state’s railway traffic, which is already 115 per cent of its capacity, says V Ajith Kumar, Managing Director, KRDCL.
As a 100 per cent green project, the Semi High-Speed Rail (SHSR) line is expected to reduce journey time on Thiruvananthapuram-Kasaragod route from 12 hours to just 4 hours. The running time between the state capital and the commercial city of Kochi will be only 90 minutes. The line is also expected to reduce both congestion and pollution on the roads, improve safety and reduce dependence on imported oil. The airports at Thiruvananthapuram and Kochi will be connected in the SHSR.
KRDCL will have to acquire about 1,200 hectares of land for the project that will have rails elevated along urban stretches. The trains will run at a maximum speed of 200 kmph. They will initially have 9 coaches, and the number will be subsequently increased to 12. The travel charge is projected to be Rs 2.75 per km, and there will be an annual hike of 7.5 per cent, Kumar added.
KRDCL expects a ridership of 67,740 passengers a day. It estimates to carry 1,330 travellers in one direction at peak hours. The average number of travellers a day will be 82,266 by 2028, 116,681 by 2040 and 147,120 in 2051. As for employment, the project will generate 50,000 jobs during the construction of the corridor and 11,000 once it is functional after completion.
The rail line will pass through eleven of the state’s 14 districts, and will stop at 10 stations. Up its northward course from Thiruvananthapuram, these stations will be Kollam, Chengannur, Kottayam, Ernakulam, Thrissur, Tirur, Kozhikode and Kannur before reaching Kasaragod.