‘SilverLine to be used to transport cargo during off-peak hours’

It will be like ro-ro trains of Konkan Railway, says K-Rail Managing Director

The viaduct of the ₹63,941-crore SilverLine rail project would be used to transport lorries and cars in the roll-on roll-off (ro-ro) mode during off-peak hours, from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. and from 10 p.m. to 5 a.m., further decongesting highways, K-Rail Managing Director V. Ajithkumar said, in the question-and-answer session that followed an outreach programme addressed by Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan here on Thursday.

It would be much like the ro-ro trains of the Konkan Railway, he said, answering a question by C.J. George, managing director of Geojit Group.

There would be a common station near Infopark for the rail project and for Kochi metro, he added. A Water Metro terminal is located close by, furthering the cause of integration with other commuting modes. Last-mile connectivity through roads too will be readied, while there will be ample parking space near each station for private vehicles. Commuters from Kochi will be able to reach Kottayam in 23 minutes, Thrissur in 31 minutes, and Kozhikode in 75 minutes.

To a question from K.M. Unni, retired Railway official and advisor to IIT-Palakkad, on why the Indian Railway was not vested with the task of executing the SilverLine rail, Mr. Ajithkumar said the project would most likely get a budgetary allocation of just around ₹800 crore per year, which was wholly insufficient.

Lisie Hospital director Fr. Paul Karedan said people who surrendered land for the project must be aptly compensated, in a time-bound manner. To his query whether trains faster than 200 kmph could be introduced on the corridor, the K-Rail chief said that would need investment in much costlier technology. But speed could be increased to a maximum of 250 kmph. Even otherwise, the viaduct could carry thrice the passenger capacity of an express highway, he said.

Much of the expected passenger patronage of over 70,000 would be passengers of the one lakh cars that used Kerala’s highways every day. The full detailed project report could be published only after the project got the final approval. The viaduct at the ground level would be fenced, since the Research Designs and Standards Organisation (RDSO) insisted on it, said Mr. Ajithkumar.

To a question by Kerala Muslim Jamaat district president V.H. Ali Darimi on whether the alignment passed through places of worship, Mr. Ajithkumar said there were just a few places of worship along the alignment. Any further change would necessitate altering of a three-km alignment, where there could be yet another place of worship. Traders who surrendered land would be given priority while renting out commercial outlets at stations, he said.

Kerala Travel Mart Society secretary Jose Pradeep said amenities must be readied for tourists in the vicinity of each station.

Other attendees expressed concern over the deteriorating condition of roads and also of over a hundred idling AC low-floor buses of the KSRTC rusting away.

Industries Minister P. Rajeeve said Ernakulam district would benefit the most from the SilverLine project since commuters would be able to reach districts at the extreme end of the State in less than or just over two hours.

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