The Kerala Cabinet approved to build a ₹66,079-crore, semi-high speed rail corridor along a 532-km-long track connecting Kasaragod in the North to Thiruvananthapuram in the South by 2024.
The mega infrastructure project would be implemented by the Kerala Rail Development Corporation Ltd (KRDCL), a joint venture of the Kerala government and the Railways Ministry. A feasibility study carried out by Paris-based Systra as the general consultant had projected the internal rate of return as 5.6 per cent and 8.1 per cent for 30 and 50 years, respectively.
The semi high-speed rail line is expected to reduce journey time from Thiruvananthapuram to Kasaragod from 12 hours to just four hours.
By year 2028, the project is expected to help reduce the number of vehicles and trucks on roads, and reduce pollution.
The running time between the state capital and the commercial city of Kochi will be 90 minutes. The line is also expected to reduce both congestion and pollution on the roads, improve safety and reduce dependence on imported oil.
KRDCL expects a ridership of 67,740 passengers a day and 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; 1,16,681 by 2040; and 1,47,120 in 2051.
The airports at Thiruvananthapuram and Kochi will also be connected with the line, which will pass through eleven of the state’s 14 districts, and will stop at 10 stations.
The double-line corridor is expected to reduce congestion along the existing rail line that currently handles a traffic that is 115 per cent more than its designed capacity, said V Ajith Kumar, Managing Director, KRDCL.
The project will generate 50,000 jobs during the construction of the corridor and 11,000 once it is functional. The preliminary feasibility study will now be forwarded to the Railway Ministry. A DPR (Detailed Project Report) would be ready by November.