Geokno (GMR Group) wins bid for Aerial LiDAR Survey of 531-km Thiruvananthapuram-Kasaragod Semi-HSR Line

Geokno India secured bid pertaining to prestigious 531-km Thiruvananthapuram-Kasaragod semi-HSR for the Aerial LiDAR Survey. KRDCL (a JV between Ministry of Railways and State Govt.) had recently floated the tender for Helicopter/Aircraft based Aerial LiDAR Survey on the proposed Semi-HSR corridor.

HYDERABAD: M/s Geokno India Pvt Ltd (an IIT-Kanpur spin off, with GMR Group as a major stake holder) had won the tender for conducting the Helicopter based Aerial LiDAR Survey of the proposed 531 km Thiruvananthapuram-Kasaragod semi High Speed Rail Corridor.

The tender for the aerial LiDAR survey on the proposed alignment of the project published by Kerala Rail Development Corporation Ltd (KRDCL) had undergone multiple technical and pre-qualification criteria, and M/s Geokno India Pvt Ltd (an IIT-Kanpur spin off, eventually taken over by GMR Group) had successfully won the bid in the open tender process for conducting the Helicopter based Aerial LiDAR Survey over the proposed route. As part of the job, Geokno would be undertaking the job using LiDAR technology (Aerial mode) for the Survey of the entire section to retrieve the complete Digital Elevation Model, Digital Terrain Model, Digital Surface Model, L-Sections, C-Sections, contour, topographical mapping, vegetation mapping under the forest regions, hydrographic/sonar/bathemetric surveys wherever required and submit the processed Geographical Data to Railways for engineering design of the entire length and lateral construction activity. It may be pertinent here to note that M/s Geokno had also earlier bagged and successfully completed the aerial LiDAR Survey for the 510 Km Ahmedabad-Mumbai Bullet Train corridor.

The proposed 531-km semi-high-speed railway line from Thiruvananthapuram to Kasaragod to improve connectivity, reduce congestion in the State’s road network and make travel hassle-free has been found ‘feasible and financially viable’. Also, dedicated railway lines to Thiruvananthapuram International Airport and Cochin International Airport with railway stations for inter-modal transport have been found feasible. Kerala State Govt. approached JICA for ₹34,000-cr. loan for the project to be executed by State and Railways. The government has expedited steps for the 531.45-km semi-high-speed rail line from Thiruvananthapuram to Kasaragod, found the project to be ‘feasible and economically viable’, had sought aid from the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) and prepared a detailed project report (DPR) for the ₹56,443-crore project. The government has approached the country office of the JICA through the Department of Economic Affairs to secure ₹34,000 crore as loan for the project to be executed on cost-sharing basis by the State and Railways.  Systra, the General Consultant for the KRDCL, has suggested in its feasibility report that the State and Railways mobilise ₹10,000 crore each. The State, in addition, will have to bear the cost of acquiring 1,226 hectares in 11 districts.

As per the feasibility report, the internal rate of return (IRR) is 5.6% and 8.1% for 30 and 50 years respectively. Semi High Speed trains will move at 130-180 km per hour to cover the north-south rail corridor from Kochuveli to Kasaragod in four hours. Air-conditioned train sets on the lines of the newly introduced Train 18 have been proposed. The semi-high-speed trains will halt at 10 stations — Kochuveli, Kollam, Chengannur, Kottayam, Ernakulam, Thrissur, Tirur, Kozhikode, Kannur and Kasaragod. The third and fourth railway lines, traversing through 11 districts, except Alappuzha, Idukki and Wayanad, will be away from the existing railway line in the 300-km Thiruvananthapuram-Shoranur section. From Thirunavaya to Kasaragod, it will be parallel to the existing rail line with railway bypasses at Vadakara and Thalaserry.

Meanwhile Ministry of Railways through its PSU – Konkan Railway Corporation Ltd is planning to take up the doubling of the Mumbai-Mangalore section in line with Thiruvananthapuram-Kasaragod semi-HSR so that the connectivity between Thiruvananthapuram to Mumbai and then to Ahmedabad can prove to be highly beneficial to the passengers commuting from Thiruvananthapuram, the Southern most part of the country to the Western most part of India i.e. Ahmedabad. This semi-HSR doubling project will have extensive benefit not only for passengers, but Konkan Railway can also declare the existing line as the dedicated Freight line integrating it with the Western DFC so that the connectivity for freight/cargo traffic can become seemless from Delhi to Mangalore and Thiruvananthapuram.

The alignment fixed has been proposed through thinly populated areas to lessen displacement of people and only 1,200 hectares will have to be acquired. In cities, the option of elevated lines has been mooted. For viaducts, 15 metres and for formation, 21 to 25 metres had been proposed.Alignment has been proposed for laying railway line to the premier airport of the State and to Cochin International Airport. Final location survey will have to be done as land from Railways and the Cochin airport (CIAL) is needed for laying the line and constructing station.

Though the rail line proposed is for a 200 km per hour speed, the trains will run at a maximum of 180 km per hour. The train sets with nine cars will be initially introduced and later will be extended to 12 and 15 cars. The coaches will be made of aluminium.

“It will be a green project tapping solar energy. As much as 21% of road traffic is to be shifted to rail and economic savings had been worked out to be 1.8 lakh metric tonnes of carbon,” sources said.

The LiDAR Survey will involve carrying out a data capturing for detailed Topographic Survey along the alignment for 300m width on each side of the Central Line of the proposed corridor showing all civil assets and infrastruture and other ground features. The processing of the data will be for 100m width i.e. 50m either sides of the CL of the alignment. For addtional requirements of processing raw data already captured due to change in alignment during alignment design, addtional areas will be processed covering all other outputs in CAD format. The bids for carrying out soil investigation will be floated soon.