SilverLine needs less mud than highways: K-Rail chief

‘It has the potential to wean away people from personalised and other modes of commute’

The 530-km-long SilverLine semi-high speed rail corridor will need approximately 50 % less mud and aggregate for its embankment and for the 88 kms elevated tracks, than that for a 45-m-wide NH, said V Ajithkumar, the MD of KRDCL (K-Rail).

He termed as one-sided, statements by critics of the project that the embankment would lead to erasure of vast many hills and rocks to source mud and aggregate.

“Somehow, they are silent on the volume of these raw materials that would be necessary to widen and develop the 45-m-wide NH from Thiruvananthapuram to Kasaragod and yet another highway that has been envisaged further east of MC Road,” he said.

The width of the Silverline corridor would range from between 15 m for elevated tracks to 25 m through hilly terrain. Its average width would thus be approximately half of that of a four-lane NH flanked by service roads on either side. In addition, none of the critics seem to have focused attention on the influx of cars, two-wheelers and other vehicles once the highways are commissioned, worsening pollution levels. On the contrary, SilverLine has the potential to wean away people from personalised and other modes of commute."

Mr Ajith Kumar further debunked the perception that the SilverLine corridor would need embankments as high as eight metres in many areas. It will be readied at much the same height as that of the existing rail corridor from Thiruvananthapuram to Mangalore. The difference would be that there would be no steep curves as in the conventional rail network. Moreover, tracks will be able to carry trains commuting at 200 kmph speed, at frequency of up to one every three minutes.

He added that a rapid-Environment Impact Assessment (EIA) was done by Centre for Environment and Development, Thiruvananthapuram although the Centre does not insist on EIA for railway projects. Likewise, a comprehensive EIA study by a New Delhi-based agency has begun.

In addition, care will be taken to minimise the project’s ecological impact, by including alternatives like fly ash in its construction. This would be apart from the reusing of mud that would be levelled for the rail corridor and debris – including of buildings that would be dismantled for the project.

Interestingly, many critics of the project had advocated a high-speed rail corridor, which would cost over ₹1 lakh crore unlike the ₹63,941 crore for Silverline. Globally, there is a shift to public-transport systems and trains are considered the most economical and energy efficient among them, he added

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