Thiruvananthapuram: A meeting was chaired by Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan here on Thursday regarding the semi-high speed rail project, in which it has been decided to form land acquisition cells to expedite land acquisition.
With only a year left for Kerala elections, Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan led LDF government is going ahead with development projects on a war footing, topping the list is semi-high speed rail project.
According to the feasibility study, 1,226 hectares of land should be acquired. However, the Railway Ministry has agreed to use the additional land for the project in the new lane parallel to the existing railway line. Approximately 200 hectares of land will be available for this purpose. The Kerala government will have to acquire the rest of the land.
The high-level meeting was attended by Public Works Minister G Sudhakaran, Chief Secretary Tom Jose, Transport principal secretary KR Jyotilal and Kerala Rail Development Corporation MD Ajit Kumar and others participated.
The Indian Railways and the state government have an equal stake in the Rs 66,000-crore project. The project will be funded by loans from international financial agencies. The government will approach the German bank, the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank and the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) for raising funds.
The Ministry of Railways has approved a speed limit of 200 kmph for trains running on the proposed semi-high speed rail. Accordingly, one can reach Kochi in an hour and a half and reach Kasaragod in four hours. The total length of the route is 532 km. The aerial survey of the track and traffic survey of the route was completed. By March 2020 the alignment will be finalized.
According to the Chief Minister's office, the construction is expected to begin this year and be completed by 2024.
"There will be 10 stations in Thiruvananthapuram, Kollam, Chengannur, Kottayam, Ernakulam, Thrissur, Tirur, Kozhikode, Kannur and Kasaragod. Train coaches and stations will have global standards. The semi-high speed rail is expected to reduce the congestion on the roads. Once realized at least 7500 cars a day will keep away from roads. About 500 freight trucks will be converted to rail freight. It can reduce the danger on the national highways, " said CMO.
The train is intended to run on solar energy. When the project is completed, about 11,000 people expected to get jobs, including indirect employment.