The state government of Kerala is all set to make a big push for its ambitious ‘Silver Line’ project. The 532 kilometres, 200 kph capable Semi High-Speed Railway line has been in the works for a more than a decade.
The Silver Line aims to reduce travel time between Thiruvananthapuram and Kasargod to less than four hours. The fastest train today covers the same route in a little over nine hours. Cost of the project is estimated to be Rs. 66,000 crores. If on time, the project is planned for completion by 2024.
Kerala government approved the Semi High-Speed Rail project in August 2019. The Union government gave in-principle approval to the Kerala government proposal in December 2019. The project will be run as a joint venture between KRDCL and Indian Railways.
|Total Route KM||532|
|Number of Stations||10|
|Cost of Project||Rs. 66,000 crores (2019 estimate)|
|Target Completion by||2024 (2019 estimate)|
|Expected Passenger Traffic||Unknown|
|Gauge||Unknown (likely to be BG)|
Proposed Route Map of Kerala’s Silver Line Semi High-Speed Railway Line
The above is a simple map linking various stations, is based on information made public by KRDCL so far, and is meant for representational purposes only. The final alignment will be released by KRDCL once all requisite processes are complete.
The Silver Line will run along Coastal Kerala from capital city Thiruvananthapuram to Kasargod on the northern tip of the state. The route is designed to cover much of Kerala and bring much of the state’s population within easy reach of the project.
|Proposed Station||Distance from Previous Station (estimate)||Total Distance (estimate)||Time Taken Between Stations|
|Kollam||55 km||55 km||24 minutes|
|Chengannur||54 km||109 km||24 minutes|
|Kottayam||40 km||149 km||15 minutes|
|Ernakulam||46 km||195 km||23 minutes|
|Thrissur||64 km||259 km||28 minutes|
|Tirur||58 km||317 km||25 minutes|
|Kozhikode||41 km||358 km||18 minutes|
|Kannur||91 km||449 km||39 minutes|
|Kasargod||83 km||532 km||36 minutes|
Additional stations may be incorporated in the final plan or at a later state.
Silver Line Proposed Fares
Reports suggest that the fares for the Silver Line will be competitive with 3 Tier AC fares on Indian Railways services. The K-rail website suggests pricing of about Rs. 2.75 per kilometre. This will mean a total fare of Rs. 1,463 for a seat between Thiruvananthapuram and Kasargod.
Equivalent Three Tier AC fare for Thiruvananthapuram-Kasargod on the 12431 TVC-Nizamuddin Rajdhani Express is Rs. 1,085-1185 at the time.
The Centre’s approval clears the way for the state government and its railway development arm, the Kerala Rail Development Corporation Ltd, to pursue funding and financial closure for the project.
Finances for the project are likely to be contributed jointly by the Kerala state government, the Union government and one or more external lenders. JICA, financing the Mumbai-Ahmedabad High-Speed Rail project, among several others, may emerge as a lender for the project, reports claim.
The government claims that the project will be able to break even in 10 years.
Origins of the Silver Line Project
The project was originally envisioned in 2009 as a 526-kilometre high-speed line from Thiruvananthapuram to Kasargod. When complete, the time required to travel from one end to the other was expected to be as low as 140 minutes, or 2 hours and 20 minutes. A total of 12 stations were to be built on the route.
Divided into two phases, the total project cost was estimated at Rs. 1.2 lakh crore rupees. the state government expected to complete the project by 2020.
A separate entity, Kerala High-Speed Rail Corporation, was formed to execute the project. However, due to opposition from within the state over cost and financing, the project made little progress over the next few years. Finally, in early 2019, the state government terminated the project and wound up KHSRCL.
Switch to Semi High Speed Rail
In the meantime, a general consensus was formed to instead construct a new, semi high-speed railway line, topping out at 200 kph, on a similar route.
At a cost of Rs. 66,000 crores, the state government considered this a more viable project and decided to go ahead with it by 2019. This led to the state government approval in mid-2019 and the Union government by the end of the year.
K-rail has also planned to make this a project that is entirely run on green energy.
Timeline and Current Status of the Silver Line
As of January 2020, work on the Detailed Project Report for the Silver Line is under progress. The report is likely to be sent for approval in February 2020.
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