Thiruvananthapuram: Billed as the biggest and most expensive infrastructure projects conceived by Kerala, a high speed rail corridor for India`s first bullet train is one of the mega projects the state plans to implement.
On completion, it will enable one to travel from Kerala`s capital Thiruvananthapuram to the state`s northern most point Kasaragod in 142 minutes, covering a distance of 526 km.
The project may sound unbelievable, especially in the case of Kerala lagging in industry and infrastructure development for decades.
Estimated to cost Rs 1,18,000 crore on completion, the first phase is expected to cost Rs 43,000 crore. It will also be showcased in `Emerging Kerala Global Connect` at Kochi from September 12-14.
"If all preparatory works progress on schedule and the project starts by April 2013 as planned, the first phase is expected to be completed in five years and the second in the following two years. The whole project should be complete by 2020," said T Balakrishnan, CMD, Kerala High Speed Rail Corporation Ltd (KHSRCL).
"Work of drawing up the Detailed Project Report is now on. Alignment study/survey has started; preparatory work on land acquisition has also begun. Recruitment of key personnel has begun," Balakrishnan, a former bureaucrat, said.
Nine stations are proposed initially - Thiruvananthapuram, Kollam, Kottayam, Ernakulam, Thrissur, Kozhikode, Kannur Kasaragod and in the final stretch to Mangalore in Karnataka. Three more at Chengannur, Tirur and Thalassery, would come up at a later stage.
The total corridor length (upto Mangalore) would be around 571 km and it will have two parallel tracks each in standard gauge systems, independent of existing rail network in Kerala.
The government has appointed Kerala State Industrial Development Corporation as the nodal agency for the project, which could transform lives and economy by facilitating hassle free movement between cities and towns in ‘God’s own country’.
"A public transport system of this dimension has so many advantages. Most important, it will help reduce traffic density and improve road safety," said KSIDC Managing Director Alkesh Sharma.