Railway Reforms

In news: Kerala’s SilverLine Project


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Silverline Project

Mains level: Railway modernization issues

Protests are taking place across Kerala against SilverLine, a semi high-speed railway project that envisages trains running at 200 km/h between the state’s northern and southern ends.

What is the SilverLine project?

  • The proposed 529.45-km line will link Thiruvananthapuram in the south to Kasaragod in the north, covering 11 districts through 11 stations.
  • KRDCL, or K-Rail, is a joint venture between the Kerala government and the Union Ministry of Railways created to execute this project.
  • The deadline for the project, being executed by the Kerala Rail Development Corporation Limited (KRDCL), is 2025.

Features of the Project

  • The project will have trains of electric multiple unit (EMU) type, each with preferably nine cars extendable to 12.
  • A nine-car rake can seat a maximum of 675 passengers in business and standard class settings.
  • The trains can run at a maximum speed of 220 km/hr on a standard gauge track, completing journeys in either direction in fewer than four hours.
  • At every 500 metres, there will be under-passages with service roads.

Need for the SilverLine project

  • Time saving: On the existing network, it now takes 12 hours. Once the project is completed, one can travel from Kasaragod to Thiruvananthapuram in less than four hours at 200 km/hr.
  • Old infrastructure: Existing railway infrastructure in Kerala cannot meet the demands of the future.
  • Terrain limitations: Most trains run at an average speed of 45 km/hr due to a lot of curves and bends on the existing stretch.
  • De-trafficking: The project can take a significant load of traffic off the existing stretch and make travel faster for commuters, which in turn will reduce congestion on roads and help reduce accidents.
  • Others: The project would reduce greenhouse gas emissions, help in expansion of Ro-Ro services, produce employment opportunities, integrate airports and IT corridors, and enable faster development of cities it passes through.

Present status of the Project

Ans. Land acquisition is underway

  • The state government has begun the process of land acquisition after the cabinet approved it this year.
  • As part of the first stage of acquisition, local revenue and K-Rail officials are on the ground, demarcating land and placing boundary stones.
  • This is done to give the officials a sense of how much private land will have to be acquired and the number of families who will be displaced.

Issues with the Project

  • Political rhetoric: All political parties have been spearheading separate protests.
  • Huge capital requirement: They argue that the project was an “astronomical scam in the making” and would sink the state further into debt.
  • Displacement of families: The project was financially unviable and would lead to the displacement of over 30,000 families.
  • Ecological damage: It would cause great environmental harm as its route cuts through precious wetlands, paddy fields and hills.
  • Flood hazard: The building of embankments on either side of the major portion of the line will block natural drainage and cause floods during heavy rains.


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