The proposed Thiruvananthapuram-Kannur high-speed railway line will reduce the existing 12-hour travel time between the south and north end of the State to just 120 minutes.
With trains to run at a maximum speed of 300 km per hour and an average of speed of 250 km per hour in the 430-km high-speed rail line, a journey from the State capital to Kollam will take only 20 minutes, to Kochi 45 minutes, and to Kozhikode 90 minutes.
The Delhi Metro Rail Corporation (DMRC), tasked with preparing the Detailed Project Report (DPR) by the government, has pointed out that the traffic projections beyond Kannur are not very encouraging. However, the project can be extended to Mangaluru in the next phase, the DMRC said.
The State has already formed a public limited company — Kerala High Speed Rail Corporation Ltd. (KHSRCL) — on the basis of a pre-feasibility report by the DMRC. The DPR prepared under the guidance of the Principal Adviser, DMRC, E. Sreedharan has been submitted to KHSRCL, sources said.
The HSR, about 4 to 8 km east of the existing railway line, is to cost Rs.1,27,849 crore, excluding State taxes, on completion. The State will have to find Rs.17,272 crore, inclusive of land cost and State taxes, as per the DPR, which says the project will be completed in nine years.
Nine stations starting from Kochuveli have been proposed in the three reaches. Kollam, Chengannur, Kottayam, Kochi, Thrissur, Valancherry, Kozhikode, and Kannur are the other stations. Provision has been kept for one more station at Nedumbassery. Of the 430 km, 105 km will be underground, 190 km elevated on viaducts and the remaining 135 km at grade/cut and cover.
The line is expected to carry 0.95 lakh passengers a day in 2025-26 and 1.73 lakh in 2040. The estimated daily trips are 5,857 in 2025-26. Saving 10 hours on travel is tantamount to saving of 58,780 man hours each day for the State. If man hour cost is reckoned as Rs.4 per minute, this is equal to Rs.1.41 crore saved daily.
By taking away about 65,000 trips a day from road to the new rail line, it is expected that at least 10 per cent of road accidents can be avoided and more than 15 lives saved every year.
Shifting 0.95 lakh passengers from road to rail will prevent 1,867 tonnes of pollutants from being let into the air every day.
The HSR line is expected to reduce 8,868 vehicles on the roads. As much as 1,155.57 hectares of private land has to be acquired, 3,868 residential/commercial structures relocated, and 36,923 trees felled.
The DMRC has proposed the project as a government initiative, preferably on cost-sharing basis with Railways. Japanese technology and JICA funding on terms similar to the Mumbai-Ahmedabad line has been mooted.