Railway Reforms

Kerala’s Silver-Line Railway Project


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Silverline Project

Mains level: Not Much

Last week, the Kerala cabinet gave the green light to begin acquiring land for SilverLine, its flagship semi high-speed railway project.

What is the SilverLine project?

  • The SilverLine Project entails building a semi high-speed railway corridor through the state linking its southern end and state capital Thiruvananthapuram with its northern end of Kasaragod.
  • It is billed as one of the biggest infrastructure enterprises being pushed by the ruling Left government.
  • The line is proposed to be 529.45 km long, covering 11 districts through 11 stations.
  • When the project is realized, one can travel from Kasaragod to Thiruvananthapuram in less than four hours on trains traveling at 200 km/hr.
  • The current travel time on the existing Indian Railways network is 12 hours.
  • The project is executed by the Kerala Rail Development Corporation Limited (KRDCL), a joint venture between the Kerala government and the Union Ministry of Railways.

What was the need for the project?

  • It has long been argued by urban policy experts that the existing railway infrastructure in the state cannot meet the demands of the future.
  • Most trains run with an average speed of 45 km/hr due to a lot of curves and bends on the existing stretch.
  • The government claims the SilverLine project is the need of the hour as it can take a significant load of traffic off the existing railway stretch and make travel easier and faster for commuters.
  • This will in turn reduce the congestion on roads and help reduce accidents and fatalities.

Issues with the Project

  • The unofficial deadline for the project is 2025 but many would say it’s not a realistic target, given the laborious nature of land acquisition in a highly densely populated state like Kerala.
  • Acquiring land, especially from private players, in urban areas remains the key challenge for the project.
  • There’s also significant opposition to the project by environmentalists citing potential damage to the state’s ecosystem in the path of the proposed route.
  • They fear irreversible impact to the state’s rivers, paddy fields, and wetlands, triggering floods and landslides in the future.

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