Kerala state cabinet approved a semi-high speed rail (SHSR) corridor project, which will link the northern Kasaragod district and the capital city of Thiruvananthapuram in the south. The mega project, worth Rs 66,079 crores, is likely to cut down journey time from Kasaragod to Thiruvananthapuram from 12 hours to just 4 hours. The SHSR project will be implemented by the Kerala Rail Development Corporation Limited (KRDCL), a joint venture of the Ministry of Railways and Kerala government. With the establishment of this project, the state government aims to improve safety, reduce both congestion and pollution on the roads as well as reduce dependence on imported fuel.
The project would allow operation of semi-high speed trains, capable to run with a maximum speed of 200 kmph that will pass through 11 of the 14 districts in Kerala. The corridor will have 10 stations in total, including the commercial hub of Kochi. The corridor will reduce the journey time between Kochi and Thiruvananthapuram to 90 minutes. The semi-high speed train from Thiruvananthapuram will halt in Kollam, Kottayam, Chengannur, Kozhikode, Thrissur, Tirur, Ernakulam and Kannur before reaching Kasaragod. The project is likely to be completed in 2024.
The project would require about 1,200 hectares of land that will have the rails elevated along urban stretches as well as connect airports in Kochi and Thiruvananthapuram. The feasibility report of the project will be forwarded by KRDCL to the Railway Ministry for in-principle approval. According to KRDCL Managing Director V Ajith Kumar, initially, the proposed semi-high speed trains will be provided with nine coaches and the number will be subsequently enhanced to 12. He further said that the travel charge is estimated to be Rs 2.75 per km, and there will be an annual hike of 7.5%. The SHSR project is expected to have a ridership of 67,740 passengers a day. Moreover, the project is likely to generate 50,000 jobs during the construction period of the corridor and 11,000 jobs once it is functional.
The SHSR corridor will be 100% green project. KRDCL is set to adopt last-mile connectivity, with multi-modal integration, system-driven e-vehicle public transport system, charging as well as parking stations, which would take the state to next generation of urban mobility. The project will also adopt the latest world-class rail system technology like signalling system of ERTMS level-2 with automatic train control system, ticketing, communication, fully air-conditioned rolling stock with modern passenger amenities.
For meeting the expenses of the SHSR project, Rs 34,454 crores will come as loans. Both, the central and state governments will have to provide a sum of Rs 7,720 crores each as their share. Moreover, for land acquisition and allied matters, the Kerala government will spend Rs 8,656 crore.
Source: Financial Express