The high-speed Rail from Thiruvananthapuram to Mangalapuram will bring in revolutionary changes to the State’s transportation sector.
We should make it a reality. Why? If the majority among us depend on cars for travelling, it would lead to a situation wherein even an expressway would not be sufficient to handle the traffic.
The majority of us are following the American model of using car - single occupancy. We have to reduce our over-dependency on roads for commuting, as soon as possible. The State’s transportation sector needs a restructuring, especially in the wake of rising concerns over climate change.
In the case of the high-speed rail, however, the expense will increase proportionate to the speed of the train. It is estimated that the big-budget project would cost `80 crore per km. The LDF Government had included the high-speed rail project in the 2010-11 Budget, and had earmarked an amount for the feasibility study.
We will have to reduce revenue deficit (RD)to be eligible to raise the amount as loan. The chances of getting loan when the State is having revenue deficit are very bleak. If we conduct tax collection in a more efficient manner, we could alleviate the revenue deficit. Then, the government will have at least Rs 20,000 crore ready for investing in infrastructure projects.
The amount required for the high-speed rail corridor can be leveraged if, at least, `5,000 crore could be converted as the share capital.
If the project is implemented as a joint venture with the Railways, the expenditure for land acquisition could be reduced to a great extent. Moreover, the speed of the trains, which will be around 300 km/hour, can be decided according to the requirement.
In future, construction of an expressway may also be required in the State, given the enormous number of vehicles hitting the roads. The best option is to have an elevated highway, with the main portion of it built over the the existing national highway. Then, the need for national highways with 45 metre width will arise, as a portion of the divider area of the road will have to be used for the pillars of the elevated highway. As of now, the high-speed rail should be our top priority, because the sustainable growth of the State will be possible only by reducing dependency on roads.
(As told to Chandrakanth Viswanath)