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Kerala govt sets 2024 deadline for semi high-speed rail project

To fund the project, discussions are on with banks

Kerala, Systra, KfW, IIM Ahmedabad, Ministry of Urban Development, VCF, Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank, Semi high-speed rail

The government of Kerala has set 2024 as deadline for completion of semi high-speed rail project which is worth Rs 56,000 crore. The ridership, as estimated by Systra that had conducted the feasibility study, will be 67,740 persons per day. The ridership figure has been projected to 1,47,120 persons per day in 2051, steadily increasing over years.

The semi high-speed rail will run on a new alignment that will have nothing to do with the existing alignment from Thiruvananthapuram to Tirur, as high speed is impossible in this segment because of 353 curves in the existing rail route.

The passenger fare (rates per passenger/km) for semi high-speed rail project is half of the earlier high-speed rail project that has been scrapped because of high cost of execution. While it was Rs six/km for high-speed rail project, it is Rs 2.75/km for semi high-speed project (the rates of existing railways for 2017-18 has been calculated at 41.30 paise/km).

To fund the project, discussions are progressing with KfW (German Bank) for USD one billion (around Rs 7,100 crore), with Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) for another USD one billion,with the Japan International Cooperation Agency for USD three billion and other agencies.

In addition, the government is also planning to launch green bonds for raising money and discussions have been held with IIM, Ahmedabad, for devising green bonds.

The money raised through green bonds will be earmarked for financing projects that are environment-friendly. The government is also looking for value-capture financing (VCF) method which is being pushed by the Ministry of Urban Development as a resource-mobilising method.

Under VCF, the property owners who are in the vicinity of the public infrastructure projects and would benefit from the increased property value due to the project will have to pay additional taxes to the government.

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