THIRUVANANTHAPURAM : Following in-principle nod from the Ministry of Railways, a meeting on Thursday chaired by Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan decided to begin land acquisition process for the government’s flagship project – Semi High-Speed Rail.
According to feasibility study, the project will require land close to 1226 acres. However at places where the new line runs parallel to the existing, the central Ministry has allowed usage of land belonging to the Railways that may be lying in excess. An estimated 200 acre land would come by in this manner meaning, fresh land acquisition would be necessary only for the remaining. Land Acquisition Cells are being set up to kick start the acquisition process.
The construction works will be carried out by a 60,000-crore-capital company, owned jointly by Centre and State on a 50:50 ratio. Funds would be sourced from international financing agencies for which, talks are being held with the German Bank, Asian international investment Bank and Japan International Collaboration Agency(JICA).
The Central Ministry has approved rail lines which allow speeds up to 200 kmph. Once implemented, travel from Thiruvananthapuram to Kochi will take just one-and- half hours and that up to Kasaragod four. The entire length of new line would be 532 km. Arial and traffic surveys for the project have been completed. The track alignment is slated for completion by March. The construction too would commence this year and is expected to reach completion by 2024.
Stops along the high-speed lines would be set up at 10 places namely Thiruvananthapuram, Kollam, Chengannur, Kottayam, Ernakulam, Thrissur, Thiruvalla, Thirur, Kozhikode, Kannur and Kasaragod stations. The coaches would be of international standards, with stations built to match that quality.
Once operational, the semi-high-speed rail will help reduce traffic congestion. An estimated 7500 cars are expected to keep off roads, once the new rail commutes begin. Similarly cargo transported via roads too would switch to rail conveyance. This in turn would reduce the number of accidents on national highways.
Semi-high-speed rail is designed to be powered by green fuel such as solar energy. Around 50000 people from localities around the proposed lines are expected to be employed during its construction phase. Once operational, approx 11,000 people would gain employment including those in indirect services.