Thiruvananthapuram: A semi high-speed rail project envisaged to be built across the length of Kerala could be financially viable, says a survey by French consultant company Systra.
The Kochuveli-Kasaragod rail corridor is a dream project of the Kerala government.
The survey found that the project can recoup 6 per cent of its cost every year especially after linking Thiruvananthapuram and Kochi airports.
Such is the alignment of the route that only minimum rehabilitation is required and only 1,200 hectare land is required.
The line to connect the project to Thiruvananthapuram and Kochi airports could be built on the land of Cochin International Airport Ltd (CIAL) and the Indian Railways.
The proposed new two-lane track will be 531 km in length. Travelling at 130-180km/hr, the distance from Kochuveli in Thiruvananthapuram in the south and Kasaragod in the far north can be covered in four hours. It will have 10 stops – Kochuveli, Kollam, Chengannur, Kottayam, Ernakulam, Thrissur, Tirur, Kozhikode, Kannur and Kasaragod.
The new track will be away from the existing rail tracks on the Thiruvananthapuram-Shoranur route. It will be parallel to Thirunavaya-Kasaragod track and across it in Vadakara and Thalassery.
Kerala Railway Development Corporation Limited (KRDCL) has been formed for the implementation of project. Total expense, including that for land acquisition, comes to Rs 56,000 crore.
The project can go ahead with the approval of both the state government and Indian Railways.
First trains on this track will have nine fully air-conditioned aluminum coaches. They could be extended to 12 or 15 later.
The trains will run primarily on solar energy. This will reduce 1.8 lakh metric tonnes of carbon emissions by slashing road transport on the route by 21%. The final report for the 2020 project is expected to be be ready by this October.