The route map (alignment) of the Thiruvananthapuram-Kasaragod SilverLine semi-high-speed rail network that has been readied by K-Rail is akin to the design of a roller coaster and could invite accidents, Alok Verma, former Chief Engineer of Railways, has said.
It will also steeply increase the maintenance cost, he said, while speaking at a webinar on ‘Techno-economic feasibility of K-Rail – SilverLine project – in the light of the recently released DPR’, organised by the Kerala Chapter of Breakthrough Science Society (BSS). The alignment of the ₹63,941-crore project has more curves and gradients than in the existing rail corridor. This “anomaly” arose due to relying solely on data garnered using Google Earth and on the basis of LIDAR survey.
The design and alignment do not suit Kerala’s topography. Neither was attention paid to the engineering code of the Indian Railways, nor was a social impact assessment done. All this is apart from inadequacies in topographic and hydrological studies, Mr. Verma said.
He reminded that broad gauge was best suited for India’s topography. The selection of standard gauge for SilverLine will result in inability to link it with the existing railway system. It will thus become a standalone project.
The State government is going ahead with the project at a time when straightening of curves, strengthening of the existing rail network, and introduction of automatic block signalling will pay rich dividends by way of increasing the speed of trains. All this can be executed in five years’ time at a cost of around ₹15,000 crore, he added.
BSS Ernakulam district president K.S. Harikumar moderated the session.