The ruling CPI(M) in Kerala has presented a new strategy to revive the 532 km long Thiruvananthapuram-Kasaragod semi-high speed railway project, which has hit a roadblock following widespread opposition from the general public due to environmental and ecological risks as well as the displacement of thousands of households from the regions crossed by the railway.
Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan has proposed extending the railway to Mangalore in Karnataka, making the state a beneficiary of the project. CPI(M) and Vijayan hope that by putting down roots in Karnataka, the Centre’s opposition to the project can be resolved. After Saturday’s conference of chief ministers of southern states in Thiruvananthapuram, chaired by Union Home Minister Amit Shah, Kerala sounded out the Karnataka government over the new proposal.
Vijayan was successful in mobilizing the support of Tamil Nadu’s Chief Minister, MK Stalin, who reportedly asked the Center for a high-speed rail corridor in his state linking Chennai. Thoothukudi, Madurai and Coimbatore. Indian Railways as well as the central government had recently told the Kerala High Court that no approval had been given to the semi-fast train linking Thiruvananthapuram and Kasaragod which the Kerala government said would cut travel time at five ‘o’ clock.
Alok Kumar Varma, former chief engineer of Indian Railways, while welcoming the decision to have a high-speed rail corridor linking the three southern Indian states, said the minister’s sudden change of heart Chief Vijayan is due to the fact that he understood the futility of K-Rail as the semi-rapid train project is known.
“A stand-alone tri-state railway line would be another failure as the government of Kerala is still obsessed with standard gauge which has become a museum piece. Then let go ahead with the broad gauge so that the “Whole railways in the country benefit from this. We cannot have one railway system for South India and another for the rest of the country,” Varma told The Pioneer.
He said the Kerala government initially thought of high-speed trains, but gave it up and switched to Japanese technology. “Everything was based on fake, detailed, fabricated and bogus project reports. All studies have shown that neither high speed rail nor K-Rail projects will materialize in Kerala due to environmental issues, population density and lack of space.
Now that Indian Railways has decided to add a third track between Ernakulam and Shornur, it would be ideal if they ditched K-Rail and opted for high-speed broadband connectivity, a proven technology,” Varma said.