Silver Line project on the wrong track

| | Updated on: Nov 25, 2021
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Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan recently accused the opposition parties (UDF and BJP) of blocking developmental works in the State with particular reference to the Silver Line project, a high speed rail link between Kasargod and Thiruvananthapuram. The project, as now conceived, is flawed for the following reasons:

The alignment chosen is flawed. From Tirur to Kasargod it runs parallel to the existing railway line. The Railways has opposed this alignment as it would interfere with the future quadrupling of this stretch.

To prevent trespassing, high walls have to be constructed on either side of the tracks, blocking free passage and drainage. In effect, an equivalent of a China wall will divide Kerala from north to south. The Silver Line should be away from the existing line, either elevated or underground. Nowhere in the world are high speed or semi-high speed lines planned at the ground level; a 140-km run through paddy fields is not stable for high speeds.

The technical parameters of the Silver Line have not been approved by the Railways, particularly the gauge.

No final location survey has been done on the ground for the Silver Line. Finalising a railway alignment based on Google Maps or Lidar survey is not acceptable, particularly when land acquisition in being pursued with undue haste. When a final location survey is done there will be lot of changes and half the land acquisition will be a waste.

No traffic survey, no geotechnical survey, no environmental study and no social impact study have been conducted. The DPR prepared is mostly based on assumptions and hypothesis. Naturally, the cost estimates, traffic projections and economics of the line are not reliable. The contents of the DPR have been kept secret.

According to my estimate, the Silver Line will cost ₹75,000 crore at present and more than ₹1,10,000 crore on completion. This is based on the last accepted rates of Delhi Rapid Rail Transit, which has a maximum speed of 180 kmph.

The writer was Managing Director, Delhi Metro Rail Corporation

Published on November 25, 2021

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