Suburban rail corridor from capital to Haripad

The Cabinet on Friday decided to take the proposed Suburban Railway Project connecting Thiruvananthapuram to Chengannur, and Haripad to the next stage by approving the setting up of a special purpose vehicle (SPV) as a joint venture between Indian Railways and the State government.

Chief Minister Oommen Chandy, addressing a post-Cabinet press briefing, said the Mumbai Rail Vikas Corporation (MRVC) would prepare the detailed project report (DPR) for the project at a cost of Rs.10.99 crore.

The Cabinet also set up a joint steering committee with the Chief Secretary as its chairman. The other members are: S Anantharaman, Chief Safety Officer, Southern Railway; Rajesh Agarawal, Divisional Railway Manager, Thiruvananthapuram; Ravi Agarawal, Executive Director (Planning) MRVC. Biju Prabhakar will be the project’s nodal officer and convener of the committee. The Railway and the State government will have a 50-50 stake in the project, estimated to cost Rs.3,500 crore.

Mr. Chandy said the main attraction was that the project entailed no land acquisition. The 83 level-crossings on the route would be a major challenge.

The proposal envisaged the setting up of automated signal system, modification of 25 railway stations. The State government was also expecting World Bank assistance for the project, he said.

The route was selected because it was the only stretch where track doubling had been completed. Besides, the area was densely populated and the suburban network would be a boon to the area, he said.

The Chief Minister said the State government was considering a high-speed railway project to connect Kochi with Malabar, where track doubling was to be completed in a month.

Southern Railway had given ‘in-principle’ nod to the project between Kannur and Kochi.

There train would have one stop each in every district covered by the line, he said.