The Kerala cabinet has given its approval for the Detailed Project Report (DPR) of the Thiruvananthapuram-Kasaragod Semi-High Speed Rail corridor, Silver Line, which aims to cover about 529.45 kilometres in four hours.
While giving its green signal to the project on Wednesday, the Cabinet made minor changes to the alignment proposed in the DPR submitted by the implementing agency Kerala Rail Development Corporation Ltd (K-rail), a joint venture of the Indian Railways and the Kerala Government.
The feasibility report of the project had proposed the line to pass through Mahe.
But as per the changes made by the Cabinet, the line will be skipping Mahe, an enclave of the Union Territory of Puducherry.
While the Kasargod - Tirur stretch of Silver Line will run parallel to the existing railway, the Tirur - Thiruvananthapuram section will deviate from the present one, a press release said.
Silver Line will have stations at Thiruvananthapuram, Kollam, Chengannur, Kottayam, Ernakulam, Cochin Airport, Thrissur, Tirur, Kozhikode, Kannur and Kasaragod.
The cost of the project is estimated to be Rs 63,941 crore and is expected to be completed in five years.
The DPR will now go for the approval of Railway Board, NITI Aayog and the Union Cabinet. The project has already received in-principle approval from the Ministry of Railways. Trains will be able to run up to a speed of 200 kilometres per hour on the two-lane greenfield corridor.
The line will be laid through areas with low population density in 15-25 metre width, so as to limit the acquisition of land to the barest minimum possible.
The land being acquired for the project will be given good compensation under the Land Acquisition Act.
Starting from Thiruvananthapuram, trains on the Silver Line will reach Kasaragod in four hours, covering a distance of 529.45 km through 11 districts.
The running time between the busy Thiruvananthapuram-Ernakulam stretch will be one-and-a-half hours.
The DPR was prepared by Paris-based consultancy M/S Systra.
Ahead of preparing the DPR, all vital studies have been conducted, including Aerial LiDAR survey, environmental impact study, scientific soil testing and traffic survey.
"Besides fast-tracking the states overall development, the project will impart greater momentum to the economic activity in the post-COVID recessionary phase.It will generate a lot of jobs during and after its completion, and offer plenty of opportunities to NRKs (Non-Resident Keralites) returning home," V Ajith Kumar, Managing Director, K-rail, said.
Silver Line will enhance connectivity with other means of transportation and network most big, medium and small towns, paving the way for decentralised development.
It will ensure easy accessibility to international airports, commercial hubs, hospitals and cultural centres, Ajith Kumar pointed out.
Apart from throwing up plenty of direct and indirect job opportunities, it will also lead to the emergence of employment hubs related to a wide range of economic and commercial activities.
By considerably reducing the dependence on road traffic, it will substantially save fuel cost. By modest estimates, no less than 500 trucks will be taken off the road per day, according to a release.
This will not only decongest the roads but also reduce road accidents sharply and address the problem of atmospheric pollution.
The project will also boost tourism, which is a prime source of income for the state, the release said.