SilverLine success depends on not developing roads, other railway lines in Kerala

This is like protecting interests of affluent people by rejecting commoners’ rights, say activists
Representative image of a semi-high speed train
Representative image of a semi-high speed train

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: A close look at the executive summary of the Detailed Project Report (DPR) of the proposed semi-high speed rail project, reveals that the success SilverLine depends on keeping other transport infrastructure underdeveloped in the state.

The DPR has identified that improvement in national highways (NHs) and state highways (SHs), like widening and bypass constructions in some stretches, will have a negative impact on the ridership of SilverLine.

Further, the privatisation of train operations and completion of line doubling works in existing railway lines along with introduction of third lines on select stretches will have a negative impact on the ridership of SilverLine.

The improvement in road projects such as widening and bypass constructions in NH66, NH766, SH69 and the Kasaragod-Kanhangad road, which run parallel to the alignment of the SilverLine, will affect the ridership negatively, the report said. But if NHs and SHs are converted to toll roads, it may lead to a positive shift to SilverLine due to higher costs, said the report.

S Rajeevan, general convenor of the Anti K-Rail Action Council said: “The DPR clearly mentions the project will be successful only if other projects and modes of transport are compromised. This is equal to protecting the interests of highly affluent people by sacrificing the legitimate rights of poor and commoners in the state.” 

In addition, the emergence of electric vehicles will have an impact on the ridership of the SilverLine, although the initial estimation is that the higher initial investment for electric vehicles may reduce the benefits received from reduction in operational cost of electric vehicles. The impact can be accounted for only when electric bus operations are stabilized and fares are reduced or subsidised considerably, the report said. Another impact on SilverLine would be privatisation of train services, as it could bring higher efficiency and punctuality in operations. The report said SilverLine ridership due to operation of trains by private players will be based on the fare setting.

Doubling of existing lines, drawing of additional third lines and straightening of curves and increasing speed on the existing railway operations will have an impact on the ridership of the SilverLine. If there is no increase in fares, the passengers travelling by sleeper and third AC class may not be willing to shift to SilverLine. But if fares are increased, then no impact is expected as Silverline would provide higher travel and cost savings to users.

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The New Indian Express