Silver Line project: International agencies keen on equity stake

Abu Dhabi Investment Authority, JICA and KfW eager to lend money at low interest rates,says official; Rail Vikas Nigam Ltd and Konkan Railway may be involved in construction

Published: 15th February 2020 06:21 AM  |   Last Updated: 15th February 2020 06:21 AM   |  A+A-

Representative image of a semi-high speed train

Express News Service

KOCHI: Global investment funds including Abu Dhabi Investment Authority (ADIA) and national corporations like Rail Vikas Nigam Limited (RVNL) and Konkan Railway Corporation Limited (KNVL) have evinced interest in buying equity stake in Silver Line, Kerala’s Semi High-Speed Rail project.

“We have been receiving international interest in the project. Apart from ADIA, various institutions such as sovereign funds and private funds from Europe and the USA have reached out to us for the project details. Agencies like RVNL, Konkan Railway etc have shown interest in the project following our request. We are trying to involve them in the construction of the project besides taking equities worth Rs 6,000 crore set aside for institutional investors,” said V Ajith Kumar, managing director, Kerala Rail Development Corporation Limited (KRDCL).

Multilateral credit agencies like  Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), KfW of Germany and Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank are eager to lend money at low interest rates starting from 0.25 per cent. During the chief minister’s recent visit to Japan, the project’s feasibility report was presented before the JICA director board. The final draft of the Detailed Project Report  will be ready by March end.

“Though JICA is currently funding around six metro projects in the country, we have requested them to add our project on the priority list. It has been informed that the funding will be on the lines of the agency’s support for Chennai Metro where it includes the procurement of rakes and other materials from Japan,” he said.

The KRDCL is looking to cover Rs 34,000 crore (half of the project cost) through loans. The loan period will be 40 years, with a 12-year moratorium.

Investors’ meets
On the lines of Ascend, KRDCL will organise investors’ meets globally to attract investment to the project. It will be commenced in the second half of 2020.

28 feeder stations not in Phase I
Due to the lesser financial viability, KRDCL is not going to build the proposed 28 feeder stations in the first phase of Silver Line. However, separate stations for Ernakulam and Thiruvananthapuram airports will be there. “During the traffic survey, it is found that only 28,000 commuters will travel through feeder stations. With those figures, we can’t even recover the electricity expenses. It will not be part of the DPR and we will conduct a separate study to check its viability later,” he said.

Land acquisition cells
To speed up the land acquisition, a meeting chaired by the chief minister two weeks ago has decided to form 10 land acquisition cells in 10 districts which are part of the project. “Deployment of officers to these cells will commence soon. Land acquisition and the tendering process will take two years. We are hoping to commence the construction by 2022 and complete it within three years,” said Ajith Kumar.

Five townships  
As part of the projects, one township each will come up in Thiruvananthapuram, Kollam, Kottayam, Ernakulam and Thrissur. Currently, the tendering process to appoint the consultants for formulating the design of townships is under process.

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