Easing Congestion, proposed for faster Commuting
The Thiruvananthapuram–Mangaluru high-speed rail corridor was first of all mooted in the 2009-10 budget speech of then government. The project was cleared by the State Cabinet in February 2010. The Kerala State Industrial Development Corporation (KSIDC) was appointed as the nodal agency to develop the project. In September 2011, a special purpose vehicle, the Kerala High Speed Rail Corporation Ltd. (KHSRC) was formed to implement the project. The Ministry of Railways has stated that the project is feasible and has expressed full support for the project.
The Delhi Metro Rail Corporation (DMRC) conducted the pre-feasibility study of the project. The KHSRC requested the DMRC to submit a detailed project report (DPR) for the project by November 2012. However, the DPR faced several delays. In February 2014, there had been few speculations regarding state government shelving the project as reported by few Indian media houses. It was reported that the estimated project cost of the Thiruvananthapuram–Mangaluru high-speed rail corridor project has almost doubled now. Hence, the more the delay, the costlier the project would become. The cost of constructing the project was estimated to be Rs. 1.80 lakh crore, much higher than the originally estimated Rs.1 lakh crore. 80% of the cost was proposed to be funded by JICA, and the remaining 20% by the State and Central governments. In March 2014, T. Balakrishnan, Chairman and Managing Director of KHSRCL, denied that the project had been scrapped.
In October 2014, Kerala Chief Minister Shri Oommen Chandy stated that the government wished to implement the project, and that the project was stalled due to protests. He also stated that the survey had been completed and the project would be implemented only with the support of people. In June 2016, the newly elected Left government asked the DMRC to complete the DPR. The DMRC submitted the detailed project report (DPR) to the state government in July 2016.
The DMRC proposed constructing a 430-kilometre line from Kochuveli in Thiruvananthapuram up to Kannur, with an option to extend the line up to Mangalore in a later phase. The Union Government approved the DMRC’s draft report on 9 July 2016. In August 2016, the KHSRCL announced that it would conduct survey to determine public opinion of the proposed alignment. The survey is intended to prevent any possible protests over land acquisition and suppress dissent from opponents of development projects in the state. The results of the survey, published in February 2017, found that 86% of the 13,447 people interviewed across 110 assembly constituencies in 11 districts were in favour of the project. Only 9% of those surveyed opposed the project, while 5% remained neutral. 73% of the respondents were aware of the project before being interviewed. Of those who had not heard of the project, 82% expressed support, while 88% of those who were aware expressed support. Supporters of the project believe that it will reduce travel time, reduce greenhouse gas emissions and accidents, and generate development in the state.
Opponents of the project argue that the project will result in large-scale displacement of people as a result of land acquisition, take away the livelihood of farmers whose land is acquired, waste a large sum of money, and reduce the number of trees. In 2019, a survey by French consultant company Systra found that the Kochuveli-Kasaragod rail corridor could be financially viable. Systra found that the project can recoup 6% of its cost every year after linking Thiruvananthapuram and Kochi airports. The state agency, Kerala State Remote Sensing and Environment Centre (KSERC) was asked to submit a survey report by March 2020. After land acquisition order, a detailed project report (DPR) has been planned to be prepared by the Government of Kerala.
Kerala has 162,000 kilometres of roads which is 4.2% of India’s total length. This is quite high considering that Kerala accounts for 2.7% of the total population of India. The existing railway network in the state is also not suitable for faster travel. The average speed of journey by rail and road in the state is about 30% to 40% lower than in the neighbouring states.
The journey becomes even slower in the rainy seasons because of deterioration in the condition of the roads and railway lines. Because of the adverse terrain, there is little scope of economically raising speed of trains on the existing railway line in the corridor. With the above in mind, the Government has decided to build the Thiruvananthapuram – Kasaragod corridor as a Semi high-speed line, covering the coastal region which is the most densely populated region of the state.
Kerala being a densely populated state, most of the commuters depend on the conventional modes of transport. The proposed Silver Line (SHSR) will bring about a remarkable change in local commute, by improving the travel time and quality of transportation. There will be a substantial reduction in road accidents due to the reduction of congestion on roads. This also includes the last mile connectivity using aggregate services and feeder services, which will transform the people’s perception towards public transportation. The Silver Line (previously called as SHSR) will also be duly integrated with the existing Indian Railway network for the benefit of interstate and long distance travellers.
Thiruvananthapuram–Kasaragod Semi High Speed Rail Corridor
The Thiruvananthapuram–Kasaragod Semi High Speed Rail Corridor, also known as the Silver Line, is a proposed higher-speed railway in India that would connect Thiruvananthapuram, the capital city of Kerala, with Kasaragod, also in Kerala. It will have a operating speed of 200 kilometres per hour (Maximum Design Speed: 220 kmph, structures designed for 250 kmph) allowing trains to cover the 532-kilometre distance in less than four hours, compared to the present 10 to 12 hour.Thiruvananthapuram, Kollam, Chengannur, Kottayam, Ernakulam, Nedumbassery, Airport, Thrissur, Tirur, Kozhikode, Kannur and Kasaragod will be the stations in this corridor. The Detailed Project Report of the project is being prepared by K-Rail (Kerala Rail Development Corporation Limited), a joint venture company between Ministry Of Railways and Government of Kerala.
The railway line aims to ease transport congestion between the northern and southern regions of the state, whilst also improving travel times and protecting fighting climate change. The project includes a roll-on/roll-off (RORO) train service that conveys road vehicles, and enhanced feeder public transport services from stations. But, proposed usage of Standard Gauge instead of Broad-gauge will hinder the Ro-Ro capacity of the line.
|2009, February||Kerala Finance Minister Thomas Isaac announced Thiruvananthapuram-Kasaragod high-speed rail corridor|
|2010, February||Initial planning for Kerala HSR by Chief Minister V. S. Achuthanandan|
|2011, September||Special-purpose vehicle formed for the project extending up to Mangalore by CM Oommen Chandy|
DMRC submitted a feasibility study report with an est. cost of Rs. 127 billion.
|2014, October||CM Oommen Chandy’s stated that the project is now stalled due to protests|
Kerala Government, headed by CM Pinarayi Vijayan, asked DMRC to submit the DPR
|2019, January||Government of Kerala decided to wind up Kerala HSR project, found unviable due to high project cost|
|2019, May||Survey report by France-based Systra said a semi high-speed rail project across Kerala could be financially viable|
est. Cost Rs. 56 billion
|2019, December||Government of Kerala named the Semi-High Speed Rail Project as ‘Silver Line’. Estimated cost Rs. 56,443 crore|
|2020, January||Hyderabad-based GeoKno India Private Limited completed an aerial survey for Kerala ‘Silver Line’ project.|
|2020, January||Kerala Government decided to set up land acquisition cells in 10 districts to acquire 1,226.45 hectares for ‘Silver Line’ project|
|2020, April||On 16 April, the Kerala Rail Development Corporation (K Rail) Board approved the DPR of ‘Silverline Kerala’. One additional station(Kochi Airport) added in the route.|
|2020, June||On 10 June, the Government of Kerala approved the revised alignment of 57.5 km Vadakara-Thalassery stretch of ‘Silverline Kerala’ to reduce displacement and avoid bifurcating Mahe.|
|2020, October||The project proposal has been tabled before the Railway Board for approval|
|2021, February||Central Government approved the project. Finance Minister wrote to the Kerala CM for speeding up the land acquisition and financial plan related discussions with JICA for the Kerala Silverline project.|
|2021, May||Housing and Urban Development Corporation Kerala granted Rs. 3,000 crore loan for acquiring land for the first phase (Kochuveli to Chengannur) developments.|
Project Details & Specifications
|Project Title||Silver Line|
|Total Distance||532.185 Km|
|Travel Time||Less than 04 Hours|
|Maximum Speed||220 Km/Hr|
|Maximum Operating Speed||200 Km/Hr|
|Number of Stations||11|
|Proposed Project Cost||Rs. 63,940.67 Crore|
|Tracks||02 (Up & Down)|
|Rolling Stock||09 Coaches initially|
|Expected Daily Ridership||67,740 Pax|
Summary & Conclusion
Thiruvananthapuram – Kasaragod (Kerala) Silver Line corridor is a 530.6 km approved semi high-speed rail line connecting Thiruvananthapuram (Trivandrum) and Kasargod in Kerala through 11 stations with an estimated cost of Rs. 63,941 crores.
The project’s new alignment will connect 11 districts and aims to ease transportation along the entire north – south length of Kerala and reduce the total travel time to less than 4 hours, compared with the present 12 – 14 hrs it takes via the Indian Railways.
The project will be executed by Kerala Rail Development Corporation Limited (KRDCL or K-Rail), a Joint Venture between Government of Kerala and Ministry of Railways of the Government of India set up to augment railway infrastructure within Kerala. 5 new townships are planned to be built at Thiruvanathapuram, Kollam, Kottayam, Ernakulam and Thrissur as identified by KRDCL.
SYSTRA MVA Consulting prepared and submitted the project’s feasibility report to K-Rail in May 2019 and its Detailed Project Report with alignment in March 2020.
On April 16 2020, K-Rail’s Board of Directors approved the line’s Detailed Project Report (DPR), with the addition of one new station at Kochi’s Cochin International Airport, and submitted it to the Kerala government for its approval. On June 10 2020, the Kerala state government’s cabinet approved the line’s Detailed Project Report (DPR) with a minor change to the alignment. Earlier the line was going to pass through Mahe as proposed in the feasibility report, but now it will be skipping it. The line is expected to be extended to Mangaluru (Mangalore) in Karnataka in the future.
- Top Speed: 200 Km/Hr
- Average Speed: 130 Km/Hr
- Track Gauge: Standard Gauge – 1435mm
- Rolling Stock: 9/12 coach trains
- Traction: 25 KV AC overhead catenary (OHE)
- Signalling: ETCS Level-2 of ERTMS
- Operational: 0 km
- Under Construction: 0 km
- Approved: 530.6 km
- Land Acquisition Required: 1,226.45 hectares
- Estimated Daily Ridership: 80,000 passengers
- Total Estimated Project Cost : 63941 crores
- Govt. of India: 10%
- Government of Kerala: 28%
- Bilateral Loan: 53%
- Miscellaneous: 9%
Silver Line Route Information
- Length: 530.6 km
- Type: At-Grade (primarily), Elevated & Underground
- Number of Stations: 11
- Station Names: Thiruvananthapuram, Kollam, Chengannur, Kottayam, Ernakulam (elevated), Kochi Airport, Thrissur, Tirur, Kozhikode (underground), Kannur, Kasaragod (elevated)
Silver Line Major Contracts
|Feasibility and Detailed Project Report Preparer||SYSTRA MVA Consulting India Pvt. Ltd.|
|LiDAR and Geotechnical Survey Report||GeoKno India Pvt. Ltd.|
|Environment Impact Assessment (EIA) Study||EQMS India|
|Hydrographic and Topographic Survey of Important Bridges, Major Bridges, Minor Bridges||RITES|
|Architectural Design of 10 Stations||LKT Engineering|
Recent Developments & News
The Detailed Project Report (DPR) of the SilverLine Project, which has been submitted to the Central Government by the Kerala Government recently, said that the standard gauge for the semi high-speed rail project was fixed as per international standards. The State Government said that it was not possible to run trains with a speed of 200 km per hour through the Indian Railway’s existing broad gauge rail line. The DPR said that the standard gauge (1435 mm) was fixed for the SilverLine project after holding discussions with the Railway Board.
However, the State Government has not made the DPR public till now. Those who oppose the project refuted the claims of the State Government and said that it would be impossible to link the semi high-speed rail to be built on the standard gauge with the Indian Railways’ broad gauge line.
Meanwhile, the traffic projection report of the DPR said that roughly 54,000 passengers would daily commute through SilverLine rail once it is implemented in 2025. The State Government expects that the footfalls can go up to 1.14 lakh. According to the State Government, an average of 79,934 persons use road and rail services daily in Kerala. The DPR said that of this, 12 to 38 per cent of persons are likely to opt for SilverLine services in future. Daily, there will be 37 services during the first stage of the commissioning. In peak hours, the services will be every 20 minutes. In the total nine cars of a Silverline train, the passenger capacity is 675. In the beginning, a total of Rs 2,276 crore is expected as yearly revenue. The daily revenue is expected to be Rs 6.2 crore. By 2032, the annual revenue is expected to touch Rs 4,504 crore. It is going to be Rs 10,361 crore in 2042 and Rs 21,827 in 2052.
Fencing on both sides
The total distance of SilverLine is estimated to be 530.6 km. Almost 293 km of the rail will be built by elevating the land with sand. There will be fencing on both sides of the rail. The rail for a distance of almost 125 km will cut through hills. The total length of bridges will be 13 km and tunnels 11.52 km. The total cost for the project is pegged at Rs 63,940.67 crores. Every year, the cost is expected to be escalated by five per cent (Rs.3200 crore).
Private, freight services planned
According to the DPR, freight services will be launched through the rail by using 480 train trucks (Roro services). There are also plans to run tourist-sleeper services on weekend nights with the participation of private players as part of generating additional revenue. The maximum speed for freight services is 120 km per hour. From freight services, a profit of Rs 25 per kilometre is expected. The annual revenue from such services will be Rs 237 crore in the beginning. Steps will be taken to link the SilverLine project stations with bus stands, railway stations, airports and jetties to attract more passengers. About 27 feeder stations will be built later to link the stations with important towns.
Three types of stations
The 11 rail stations coming under the project will be classified into three categories based on the number of passengers using the service and the revenue earned.
A Class: Thiruvananthapuram, Kollam, Ernakulam, Thrissur, Kozhikode, Kannur and Kasargod
B Class: Chengannur, Kottaym, Tirur
C Class: Cochin Airport
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