SOON, KERALA WILL CHANGE THE WAY IT TRAVELS

K-Rail, a joint venture between the Government of Kerala and Ministry of Railways - Government of India, is all set to lend a new dimension to the railway infrastructure. With its super-fast, safe rail services, K-Rail will help fast-track the socio-economic development of the State – especially the less developed regions. “Silver Line”, K-Rail's Semi High-Speed Rail project, will connect the North and South regions of the State with train services that will operate at a maximum speed of 200 km/hour, reducing the total travel time to less than 4 hours. It shall also redefine intra-state travel in Kerala with its high quality, time-saving services and provide efficient last-mile connectivity through aggregator and feeder services. This will ensure maximum passenger convenience and encourage more and more people to use public transport. Silver Line is expected to bring about a host of positive changes to the way people in Kerala travel by creating a fast, efficient and reliable mode of long-distance transport, which will decongest roads, reduce accidents, minimize air pollution and most importantly, ease the current rail passenger rush.

EVENTS AND UPDATES

1. Silver Line gets Centre’s in-principle nod

The Union Government has given (in-principle) approval to Kerala’s ambitious Thiruvananthapuram-Kasaragod Semi High Speed Rail (SHSR) project. The order in this regard was issued by the Ministry of Railways on 17.12.2019, which was conveyed to Kerala Chief Secretary Shri Tom Jose IAS. K-Rail had submitted the feasibility report to the Ministry of Railways for the construction of Semi High Speed Rail Corridor between Thiruvananthapuram and Kasaragod, which was examined in detail by the Ministry of Railways before according approval for the pre-investment activities of the project. The state cabinet had approved the project in August 2019 after the feasibility study conducted by K-Rail. The state government is going ahead with its efforts to mobilise investment for the project. Chief Minister Shri Pinarayi Vijayan met President of JICA during his recent visit to Japan, and briefed him about the project. JICA showed positive intent towards the project.

2. AERIAL LIDAR SURVEY

LiDAR (Light Detection and Ranging) aerial remote sensing method is being used for the survey conducted on a Partenavia P68 series aircraft that took off from Kannur International Airport (KIAL).

The aerial survey to identify the alignment of the Semi High-Speed Rail got under way on 31.12.2019, covering the northernmost 80 km stretch from Kannur in the initial phase of the exercise. The aerial survey is the first vital step before commencing the work of Silver Line, which will reduce end-to-end travel time across the state to four hours. The survey is being carried out by Hyderabad-based GeoKno India Pvt. Ltd., which had also conducted the LiDAR survey for the Mumbai-Ahmedabad bullet train project.

This survey will help identify the alignment very fast, start construction and will enable K-Rail to prepare the Detailed Project Report (DPR). Silver Line is the second rail project in India to rely on LiDAR survey. The land that has a width of 600 m is being surveyed for Silver Line, and the line will be set up in the suitable 25 m width land. The ground points for this have already been set up. The LiDAR eye can detect things ranging from buildings, people inhabited areas, forest and bridges to stone benches and bushes, enabling completion of the alignment by avoiding things that are beneficial for people.

LiDAR survey

LiDAR survey is conducted using the reflection of laser rays. The equipment in the aircraft will have a laser unit, scanner and GPS receiver. The laser rays will scan the surface of the earth and the returning rays are received by the sensor to map the route. Through the survey, accurate details of the land will be available without disturbing public life. Moreover, it can precisely identify forests, rivers, roads, wetlands, buildings, electricity line and heritage zones. The high-resolution cameras used in the LiDAR unit can also detect tree-covered low lands.

3. KERALA NIRMMITI

K-Rail Managing Director Mr. V. Ajith Kumar speaking about Silver Line Project, at Kerala Nirmmiti, an exhibition organised by KIIFB in Thiruvananthapuram district on 21.12.2019.

Kerala Nirmmiti, was aimed at giving the public a chance to learn about basic infrastructure developments in all the districts and evaluate the development projects undertaken by KIIFB.

General Consultant – Systra

K-Rail board meeting chaired by Chief Secretary Shri. Tom Jose on 04.10.2018 gave the nod for appointing Systra as the general consultant. Accordingly, K-Rail appointed Paris-based engineering and consultant firm Systra as the General Consultant for K-Rail projects. Systra incepted their services on November, 2018. The contract will be for a period of three years. As the General Consultant, Systra assists K-Rail in identifying the best fit technology and systems suiting our projects. Further, they are involved in preparation of feasibility reports and DPR, procurement processes, identification of surveys required for feasibility studies/ DPR,

supervising Environmental & Social study etc. Systra had completed the feasibility study on the project “Silver Line” by May 2019 and found the project technically feasible and financially viable. The report was submitted to the Government of Kerala, which received the cabinet nod in August 2019.

Presently, Systra is in the process of Detailed Project Report (DPR) preparation. The survey activities conducted for DPR preparation including LiDAR survey, Geotechnical survey and Study on Environmental Impact Assessment is underway. Traffic and Transportation survey has been successfully completed.

The Detailed Project Report on the project “Silver Line” is expected to be completed by February/March 2020.

PROJECT PROGRESS -SILVER LINE

1. EIA AND SIA SURVEY UNDERWAY

K-Rail has nominated the Centre for Environment and Development (recognised by Dept. of Scientific and Industrial Research, Govt. of India) to assess the environmental impact on the proposed Thiruvananthapuram Kasaragod Silver Line project. PROJECT PROGRESS -SILVER LINE The field data collection and analysis on ambient air quality, ambient noise quality, flora and fauna study, surface soil quality analysis, subsoil quality analysis, water quality analysis (ground water and surface water) have been completed. The ambient air quality investigation is 65% complete and further investigation is in progress.

2. TOURIST TRAIN & AGGREGATOR SERVICES SURVEY

Traffic Survey for feasibility of Tourist Train & Aggregator Services was conducted at identified locations in the month of December. The main objective of the survey was to find out the number of tourists willing to shift to SHSR as well as to find the potential number of passengers who would use the feeder services.

UPCOMING PROJECTS

1. New BG line between Thalassery and Mysore

The new BG line between Thalassery and Mysore connects the Coastal Township of Thalassery in North Malabar in Kerala, via Mananthavadi / Kalpatta to Mysore town in Karnataka thereby giving a direct rail link between Kerala and Karnataka. The proposed new alignment passes through an underground tunnel between Nagarhole and Bandipur wildlife sanctuaries. The Preliminary / Pre-feasibility report has been prepared by K-Rail and was submitted to the Railway Board. DPR preparation by Konkan

Railway Corporation Limited (KRCL) is underway. The proposed alignment has been submitted to the Karnataka Government for their clearance.

2. New Line from Nilambur to Nanjangud

The proposed BG line provides the missing link between Nilambur in Malappuram District of Kerala and Nanjangud in Chamaraja Nagar District of Karnataka. It provides an alternative and shorter connectivity between Southern Kerala, Mysore, and Bangalore thereby helping in comprehensive development of a vast area in Karnataka, Kerala and Tamil Nadu. It is planned to connect Nagarhole and Bandipur National Parks via underground tunnel.

K-Rail has conducted a detailed study and suggested a common gate way across the Western Ghats in the forest areas of Kerala and Karnataka, to meet the requirements of both Nilambur - Nanjangud and Thalassery – Mysore Broad Gauge lines.

FROM THE
MD'S DESK

The Union Government has given (in-principle) approval for the construction of Silver Line –Semi High Speed Rail Corridor. This approval marks an important milestone in the implementation of this grand project that will help fast track the economy of Kerala. This 532-km double line between the capital city and Kasaragod will be completed using modern technology.

The Silver Line project will be implemented as a Green project. K-Rail entered into a MoU with IIM-Ahmedabad to make Silver Line a Green project.

K-Rail proposes to use solar power and reused concrete and steel.

The strategies proposed to be adopted during construction includes recycling steel and concrete, an urban forestry program, diversion of construction waste from landfills through reuse and recycling, use of new, low emission construction equipment, replacement of inefficient truck engines and irrigation pumps. The station buildings, depots, administrative building and other service structures will be designed based on the platinum rating standard of Indian Green Building Council.

This rail corridor will shift about 46,100 and 11,500 people per day to SHSR from Road and Rail respectively. Reduction in Greenhouse Gas emissions is one of the key features of this project. A reduction of approximately 2, 37,663 tons of carbon dioxide equivalent is expected by 2028 which will increase upto 3, 81,899 tons by 2051.

Other features of this project include last-mile connectivity with system-driven e-vehicle public transport system, multi-modal integration, charging and parking stations, which would take Kerala to the next generation of urban mobility.

Planned urban development of the cities along the corridor and development of new cities down the SHSR line can derive benefits for the socio-economic development in the regions served by the line.

If we can go ahead with the current time-frame, the project will become a reality by 2024.

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