Project to be commissioned by March 2020: Balakrishnan

T. Balakrishnan, Chairman and Managing Director of Kerala High Speed Rail Corporation Ltd, said in Kochi on Wednesday that only 1, 600 to 1, 700 families needed to be evicted along the 200-km stretch of the proposed high-speed rail corridor from Thiruvananthapuram to Ernakulam.

In an interview to The Hindu on the sidelines of the ‘Emerging Kerala’ event here on Wednesday, Mr. Balakrishnan termed ‘baseless’ reports that about 15,000 families would have to be evicted for the project. “Only 250 hectares is required for setting up the track up to Ernakulam. The estimate is that we need to remove only two-and-a-half households per acre for the project. We are going away from populated areas,” he said.

Explaining that the high-speed track with a width of 20 metres would be equivalent to a nine-lane highway, Mr. Balakrishnan said the project envisaged tunnels in urban areas for laying the track. There would be no level-crossing and pathways across the tracks. Pointing out that Japan’s JICA would fund 80 per cent of the estimated Rs.1,20,000 crore project cost, Mr. Balakrishnan said the Centre and the State would have to meet the remaining 20 per cent cost.

The project is scheduled to take off by April next and fully commissioned by March 2020. Each train on the route will have eight coaches (six motorised coaches and two trailers attached to the motorised coaches at both ends). They will carry 817 passengers per trip.

The preliminary works on the proposed high-speed rail corridor linking Thiruvananthapuram with Mangalore are expected to begin by March, 2013. The first phase of the project — the Thiruvananthapuram-Kochi link — is expected to be ready in five-and-a-half years. Mr. Balakrishnan said the ticket rates would be reasonable.

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