‘This will have a negative impact on K-Rail ridership’
The viability of the proposed SilverLine semi high speed rail project will hinge on multiple factors as the existing rail and road network is expected to improve transportation and save travel time in the coming years.
In its detailed project report (DPR), the Paris-based multinational engineering and consulting group SYSTRA, says the improvement projects of National Highways (NHs) and State Highways (SHs) such as road widening and construction of bypasses to NH 66, NH 766, SH 69, Kasaragod- Kanhangad road which are parallel to the alignment of the Silverline project will have a negative impact on its ridership.
However, the DPR suggests that if the NHs and SHs are made to toll roads, due to higher costs, it may lead to a positive shift to SilverLine. In case of NH 544, 85, 744, 966, 183, 183 A and 185 and SH perpendicular to SilverLine, the project may act as a feeder network.
The widening of these roads will improve the travel time of first mile and last mile journey either by private vehicle or public transport. This may have a positive impact on the ridership of the SilverLine with additional provisions of inter-modal and interchange facilities with park and ride facilities, the DPR says.
The 529.45 km SilverLine project to be implemented by K-Rail, a joint venture company under the State government and Ministry of Railways connecting Kasaragod and Thiruvananthapuram, is expected to reduce the total travel time to less than 4 hours.
Regarding the impact of electric bus operations on SilverLine, the DPR says buses may have to operate on congested networks in future and may reduce the benefits received from reduction in operational cost and ultimately fares.
On the impact of privatisation of train operations, the DPR says it would bring efficiency and punctuality in operations, but may increase the fares. Any impact on the SilverLine ridership due to operation of trains by private player is based on the fare setting.
Also, the doubling of lines, addition of a third line and improvement to curves and improving speed on the existing railway operations will have an impact on the ridership of the SilverLine. With no increase in fares, the passengers travelling by sleeper and 3rd AC class may not be willing to shift to SilverLine, the DPR says.
However, the K-Rail says that the development of NHs will bring only short term relief. As per traffic survey, within five years these national highways will be choked again. Hence every 5- 10 years, Kerala has to plan for more National Highways or alternatively plan for Express Highways in green corridor.
Besides, the land requirement for the Silverline project will be half of that of a six-lane NH and can carry three times the traffic. The Silverline has been planned to take care of the traffic requirement over a period of next 50 years. Traffic on NH and railway tracks in the State is 30- 40% slower when compared to other States.
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