Responding to NITI Aayog, State lists measuresto reduce cost.
The State government has informed the NITI Aayog that the 529.45 km semi-high-speed rail SilverLine from Kochuveli to Kasaragod, estimated to cost ₹63,941 crore, is “viable and feasible”, and that the cost per kilometre of ₹120.77 crore for laying the corridor is “reasonable”.
In a 17-page reply to queries raised by the NITI Aayog on the project awaiting Central clearance, the government said the public-private partnership component of the joint venture between the Indian Railways and Kerala would be “improved” and that the “equity cash contribution” of Railways had been brought down from ₹7,720 crore to ₹2,150 crore.
Terming the cost of SilverLine “realistic”, the government said 70% of the alignment traversed “at grade” (the same level) compared with the 100% alignment via viaduct and tunnels of other projects. Among the measures adopted to reduce the cost were alignment through vacant land or least populated villages; 10 stations at the rate of 1.87 in 100 km; stone ballast for 475 km of track; modern technology for designing embankments on soft soil; and precast construction for viaducts and bridges. By going for “at grade” alignment instead of the initial proposal of an elevated corridor, the cost had been brought down from ₹91,500 crore to ₹63,941 crore. On the concerns of NITI Aayog over cost of land acquisition and displacement, the government said costlier and built-up areas had been avoided. The cost of land along the National Highway and through interior areas was ₹18 crore per hectare and ₹9 crore per hectare respectively, which was justified.
The process of granting administrative sanction for land acquisition had commenced and 80% of land would be acquired within 18 months, and the balance within the construction phase.
The Ministry of Railways had given in-principle approval for the project and the detailed project report (DPR) had been prepared. Maximum possible revenue generation would be explored and modes adopted by the Kochi Metro would be looked into. The project was self-sustainable, the government submitted.
On design standards, it was pointed out that the project was envisaged as per the EN (European standards) Codes that allowed, with safety margin, axle load up to 17 tonnes for semi-high-speed trains and speeds up to 250 km per hour and 22.5 tonnes axle load for freight trains up to 120 km per hour.