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About K-Rail

Kerala Rail Development Corporation (K-Rail), a Joint Venture company of Government of Kerala and Ministry of Railways  aims to be a leading organisation in the field of development, redevelopment, operation and maintenance of railway works with passenger amenities of international standards and aims to complete the projects with high standards of safety, comfort, value-added services and efficiency by adopting the best technological practices, sound financial strategy and optimum utilisation of the resources.

EVENTS AND UPDATES

SilverLine project: CM meets Railway Minister
In a move to expedite the sanction of the SilverLine project, CM Pinarayi Vijayan called on Union Minister for Railways Ashwini Vaishnav earlier in October. After the closed-door meeting with the Minister, Chief Minister wrote on his Facebook that the discussion with the union minister was fruitful.  Discussions were held on taking over the debt of loans borrowed from the international funding agencies and also giving final approval to the project.  

The financial proposal of the project is to seek a loan of Rs 33,700 crore from JICA, ADB, AIIB, and KFW through the Union Ministry of Economic Affairs. He said that the Union Railway Ministry was considering ways to make the project more practical. The state was asked to clarify the financial debt as the railways could not take over the debt. This will be discussed further, wrote the CM. 

The Silver Line is a Rs 63,941 crore project. Of this, the central share is Rs 2150 crore. 185 hectares of land valued at Rs 975 crore also belong to the Railways. The remaining amount is to be found by the state government. Rs 13,362 crore will be required for land acquisition. It will be borne by Hudco, KIIFB, and the state government. The remaining amount will be found through equity in railways, state government, and the public.

The Ministry of Railways has given preliminary approval (in principle) to the project and the detailed project report has been submitted to the Railway Board, Government of Kerala for final approval. Currently, the Union Finance Ministry has given permission to proceed with the land acquisition process, wrote the Chief Minister. 
 SilverLine will bring about big change in infrastructure development of the state: Chief Minister 
The SilverLine project will bring about a massive change in the state's infrastructure sector, Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan has said in the Assembly early this month. "At present, it would take as long as 16 hours to travel from one end of the state to the other. This should change. The best solution is the semi high-speed rail project. It will shorten the traveling time to just four hours," he said.

He was replying to the notice for an adjournment motion moved by the opposition in the assembly. Eight states, including Kerala, have launched joint ventures with the Central government for planning and implementing railway projects. In January 2017, 100 crore was earmarked for the project which will be implemented through the Kerala Rail Development Corporation (K-Rail). The legislators of constituencies through which the railway line passes have also been briefed about the project. International agencies like Japan International Cooperation Agency have come forward to finance the project which will cost Rs 63, 941 crore, he said.

The project was envisaged in such a way that places of worship, paddy field, and biodiversity in the 11 districts through which it passes are lease affected. Only 9,314 buildings will be affected by the project. 

Chief Minister said that the project was aligned in such a way that it passes through the least densely-populated areas and the claims that it would destroy the economic condition of the state were baseless.

"There are no governments in the world that do not avail loans for infrastructure development. The reduction of travelling time to one-fourth will boost business, technical and tourism sectors of the state", he said.

While on the Kasargod-Tirur stretch, the line passes parallel to the existing rail track, from Tirur to Thiruvananthapuram, the alignment was designed to avoid paddy land and wetlands. Of the 115 km of paddy land through which the line passes, 88km is an elevated stretch, he said. At the same time, the opposition focus on the adverse impact the project would have on the fragile ecology of the state. 
SilverLine will happen only after allaying public concerns: Minister V Abdurahiman
The government will allay all the concerns of the public in the SilverLine semi high-speed rail project and it is only after that the project will be taken forward, said V. Abdurahiman. Minister also said that the studies carried out so far had not shown that the project would impact the environment adversely. The project would not cause pollution, as the latest technologies would be in use, he said. He said this while replying to the questions raised by the members in the Legislative Assembly. 

He said that the propaganda against the project was not founded on facts. "In the Malabar region, it is being alleged that around 100 metres of land would be acquired alongside the tracks. In reality, only two metres, or a maximum of 25 metres would be needed”, said the minister. 

Minister also confirmed that the current going procedures are not part of the land acquisition. “They are only preliminary activities of the project procedures, and the land acquisition will only start after getting the final approval of Railway Board”, Minister clarified. 
SILVERLINE: Taming the time 
ANILKUMAR G 
JGM and Company Secretary 
Kerala Rail Development Corporation Limited (K-Rail)
SilverLine semi high-speed rail project has become now a much anticipated and talked about project in the state. The proposed 531 km corridor that connects the capital city of Thiruvananthapuram to the northern city of Kasargod in less than 4 hours is slated to be a project that will help the state to the fast path of development and growth. Kerala Rail Development Corporation Limited (KRDCL) or K-Rail, as it is most popularly known, is the joint venture between the government of Kerala and the Indian Railways, is the implementing agency of the project. The total cost of the Silverline is estimated at around Rs 64,000-crore. A detailed project report (DPR) has been submitted to the Ministry of Railways and K-Rail is awaiting its approval. As per the DPR, the project can be completed in five years on starting work. 

SilverLine makes it easy for a traveler inside the state to reach his destination without much delay. The rail project takes only less than four hours to reach Kasargod from Thiruvananthapuram whereas it now takes around 10 to 12 hours to reach there. SilverLine is designed in such a way as to address the inadequacy of existing rail transport and to strengthen the public transport system in the state. About half a lakh of people will get jobs in the construction phase and about 11,000 people will get jobs during its operational phase.  SilverLine runs through ten districts with 11 stops.  

With the completion of this project, it is estimated in the travel survey conducted as part of the DPR preparation, that around 46,206 road users per day will be shifted to SilverLine. With 12,872 vehicles off the road in the first year, traffic congestion in the state will get significantly reduced. In addition, it can save Rs 530 crore on petrol and diesel fuel every year. 185 hectares of railway land and 1,198 hectares of private land will be utilized for the 529.45 km long project. 

The travel woes within the state have been a concern for many years.  The SilverLine track, which is designed to avoid sharp curves, passes through relatively low densely populated areas. Measures are being taken to prevent the demolition of houses and buildings as much as possible and to shift the houses using the building lifting and shifting technology. The 88 km of the SilverLine path will be constructed on bridges, viaducts to avoid paddy fields and buildings as much as possible. While the width needed for the National Highway is up to 45 m, the SilverLine needs only 15 to 25 m of land and can carry three times more passengers than any National Highway can afford. 

According to Indian Railways policy, protective fencing has to be erected on both sides of the tracks on which a train travels at a speed of more than 140 kmph. This is for the safety of the public and to avoid the intrusion of animals and people onto the track. The 137 km long track is traversed by overpasses, tunnels, and viaducts, so there is no restriction on freedom of movement. Elsewhere, there will be footpaths or overpasses every five hundred meters across the SilverLine track to facilitate crossings.

According to the detailed project report (DPR), the cost of setting up the SilverLine is Rs 63,940.67 crore. Out of this Rs 6085 crore is tax exemption to be paid by the Central and State Governments. Rs 975 crore is the value land owned by the Railways. The share of Central Railways to the project is Rs 2150 crore. The state government will bear Rs 3253 crore as their share. Rs 4252 crore will be raised through public equity participation. It aims to raise Rs 33,700 crore from international financial institutions. The Housing and Urban Development Corporation (HUDCO) has sanctioned a Rs 3000 crore loan for the first phase of land acquisition between Kochuveli and Chengannur. Kerala Infrastructure Investment Fund Board (KIIFB) has already agreed to provide a loan of Rs 2,100 crore to fund the land acquisition. Out of the total land required, around 185 hectares will be railway land and 1,198 hectares will be private land. 

Meanwhile, the state cabinet has given nod for the preparatory works needed for land acquisition for the SilverLine semi high-speed project. The sanction has been given for the acquisition of 955.13 hectares of land of various villages of Thiruvananthapuram, Alappuzha, Pathanamthitta, Kottayam, Ernakulam, Thrissur, Malappuram, Kozhikode, and Kasargod districts as per the provisions of the Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation, and Resettlement Act of 2013 (LARR Act, 2013). A Social Impact Assessment study as said in the LARR Act, 2013 will be conducted by the issuance of notification as per Section 4(1) of the Act from the State Level Social Impact Assessment (SIA) agencies empaneled for the purpose. An expert committee would be constituted to check the Social Impact Assessment (SIA) study report. 

The order also made it clear that the decision of the Government to proceed with the land acquisition as per sub-section (2) of section (8) of LARR Act will be issued only after getting final approval for the project from the Railway Board.  The sanction now has been given to the concerned department to make preparatory works needed for acquiring the land for the project. 

The state cabinet has also sanctioned the creation of a Special Deputy Collector office consisting of 7 posts based at Ernakulam and 11 Special Tahsildar LA offices based at 11 districts mentioned above backed by enough Revenue officers to undergo the preliminary activities of the land acquisition activities.

Negotiations are already in progress with KIIFB and the Indian Railway Finance Corporation for the Rs 13,265 crore required for land acquisition. In Kerala, where the current investment-friendly environment prevails, K-Rail is also looking for the financial model of roping in private players for around 40 percent of the equity, similar to projects like Cochin International Airport and Kannur International Airport, in which even NRIs are partners. 

Once SilverLine comes to reality, it will not only accelerate the speed of travel within the state but also revive the economy that has been long hit by the Covid 19 pandemic. The project is surely going to be a game-changer to the development dreams of the state and brings a long-awaited answer to the speed travel inside the state.


[The article was originally published in the September issue of Kerala Calling]
Myths vs Reality

The only solution to train traffic woes in the state is the doubling of the track

It is true that the doubling of the existing single-line railway track in Kerala should have happened decades ago. The track being doubled currently will solve the existing traffic problem like over-saturation, late running of trains, etc. The current ongoing doubling work will not solve the real transportation requirements that will arise after 10 years and beyond. In the current doubling project, the second line is planned with the same curves running parallel to the existing alignment and hence the maximum speed of the section will not increase despite improvements made in the track. Hence there will not be any substantial time-saving in the travel across Kerala even after the doubling works are completed.
YouTube Video 

SilverLine and NITI Aayog

Some vested interested people are misquoting the NITI Aayog's comment on the cost of SilverLine project. This has been done to put a stop or make a hindrance to the further progress of the project. However, NITI Aayog has only said good about the project, they have suggested certain things that needed clarity. K-Rail has given all those, and NITI Aayog is happy to give the nod to the project to start discussions of the fund with the foreign agencies. K-Rail MD V. Ajithkumar explains this in detail in the video. 
Why SilverLine choose a standard gauge path?

People are raising the question of why SilverLine chose to run in Standard Gauge while our existing railway system is running on broad gauge. If we choose a standard gauge over a broad gauge, what benefits it would bring? What are the limitations of broad gauge? Can SilverLine be connected to other high-speed rail projects in the future? K-Rail MD V.Ajithkumar explains the various doubts of the public regarding the standard gauge over the broad gauge.
Will SilverLine cause flooding?

People against the project are raising the question of whether the SilverLine construction will cause flooding. However, before us, there are various countries across different continents running high-speed trains, and not a single country reported that the high-speed rail paths have been a cause for flooding. In this video, Geo-Technical Engineering expert Dr. K Balan furnishes details that the proposed SilverLine will not cause a flood. 
How helpful is SilverLine in enhancing the public transport system in the state?

P Jayakumar IRSE, Project and Planning Director, KRDCL, explains how the Silverline semi-high speed rail project will benefit the public transport system in Kerala.
In Social Media 
Media Coverage 
Editor: P T Muhammad Sadik, PR Co-Ordinator 
Contact us: Kerala Rail Development Corporation Ltd.,
5th Floor, Trans Towers, Vazhuthacaud, Thycaud P.O,
Thiruvananthapuram, Kerala-695014
Email : info@keralarail.com; Phone: 0471 232 4330 / 232 6330
FAX : 0471 232 5330
  
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