The government has expedited steps for the 531.45-km semi-high-speed rail line from Thiruvananthapuram to Kasaragod, found ‘feasible and economically viable’, by seeking aid from the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) and preparing a detailed project report (DPR) for the ₹56,443-crore project. Paris based consultancy firm Systra recently submitted Detailed Project Report for the proposed semi high speed railway line.
The Kochuveli-Kasaragod rail corridor is a dream project of the Kerala government. The survey found that the project can recoup 6 per cent of its cost every year especially after linking Thiruvananthapuram and Kochi airports. Such is the alignment of the route that only minimum rehabilitation is required and only 1,200 hectare land is required.
With the feasibility report, alignment, and revenue model from the Paris-based consulting firm Systra reaching the government for approval, Kerala Railway Development Corporation Limited (KRDCL) has commenced steps to go forward with the project. Semi-high-speed trains will move at 130-180 km per hour to cover the north-south rail corridor from Kochuveli to Kasaragod in four hours. Air-conditioned train sets on the lines of the newly introduced Train 18 have been proposed. Paris-based engineering and consulting group Systra, the general consultant of Kerala Railway Development Corporation Limited (KRDCL), the special purpose vehicle set up to execute ‘viable’ projects on a cost-sharing basis between the State and Railways, in its feasibility report has put the estimated cost at ₹56,000 crore, including cost of land acquisition.
First trains on this track will have nine fully air-conditioned aluminum coaches. They could be extended to 12 or 15 later. The trains will run primarily on solar energy. This will reduce 1.8 lakh metric tonnes of carbon emissions by slashing road transport on the route by 21%. The final report for the 2020 project is expected to be be ready by this October.