Kerala's high speed rail project
Chief minister Oommen Chandy has convened an all party meeting to evolve a consensus on the proposed high-speed rail corridor project from Thiruvananthapuram to Mangalore. “Our effort is to take everybody into confidence on the project. We want to listen to the concerns and anxieties of all parties. If they have any viable suggestions, we will certainly try to include them,” Chandy said. “The Centre has already given in-principle nod for this Rs 1.18 lakh crore project. Japanese loan for the project is also almost through,” he added. With the CPM making it clear that it was the previous the LDF ministry led by them which had originally mooted the project, there would not be much of an opposition to the project as such. “We had entrusted Delhi Metro Rail Corporation (DMRC) to prepare the feasibility report on the project and had included it in the last budget of the LDF ministry,” the party leader P Rajeev, MP said. Work on the corridor is expected to begin in April 2013, provided it gets all the necessary clearances and assurances of financial support. First phase from Thiruvananthapuram to Ernakulam is expected to be ready in five years and the entire stretch in seven years. DMRC will submit the detailed project report on the rail corridor by September. BJP state president V Muralidharan said even though his party had been invited for the meet, the government has not yet given any details of the project. ``Considering that the project calls for massive investment, we have our apprehensions on its viability. What we need is viable and realistic projects for solving Kerala’s infrastructural backwardness. We should focus on developing waterways and other cheaper modes to improve connectivity,’’ he said. Much of the bullet train track would pass through over-head, via-ducts. In cities it would pass through tunnels. Only 10% of the track would be ‘on surface’. Land would be required for building pillars. Land acquisition could pose challenges. The proposed two-track corridor will be parallel to the existing rail network. It will pass through Kollam, Kottayam, Ernakulam, Thrissur and Kozhikkode. The eight-coach bullet trains will have a maximum speed of 350km per hour. It will have 12 stops. Average speed will be 300 km per hour. It is expected that one can travel from Thiruvananthapuram to Kasargod in three hours. The existing rail and road transport system will take more than 14 hours to cover the same distance. Fare in the bullet trains could be 1.5 times higher than that of the AC coaches in Jansathabdi Express, said T Balakrishnan, chairman and managing director of the high-speed rail corporation formed by the state government.