New Delhi: In a major infrastructure boost, Indian Railways is working on a dedicated pan-Kerala elevated railway corridor to be built at a cost of 50,000 crore. The 500-km corridor from Kasargod to Thiruvananthapuram will connect the state’s northern and southern regions.

“Kerala is a small state and with limited land resources. It has been decided to make an elevated pan-state corridor that connects Kasargod in the north with Thiruvananthapuram in the south.

The project will be funded by a development agency such as the Asian Development Bank (ADB) and Japanese International Cooperation Agency (JICA), and talks are on. It would be a high-speed corridor, which would connect major cities with suburbs in 30 minutes so that people can use it for local travel too," said a senior railway official on condition of anonymity.

This would be the most expensive state corridor project undertaken by Indian Railways other than the $13 bn Jammu-Udhampur-Katra-Quazigund-Baramulla link, a 345-km railway line. The Kerala rail corridor proposal is expected to be placed before the cabinet next year for its consent. According to the plan of the railways, the corridor will be used to run semi-high speed trains, which travel at a speed of 100-150km per hour, as it would be elevated with no obstructions.

The railway official said Kerala is already on the national carrier’s radar for a makeover. The city of Ernakulam is already getting a makeover under the railway station re-development programme, with the National Buildings Construction Corp. Ltd (NBCC) slated to undertake the project with the aim of completing it by 2022.

Indian Railways has lagged in investing in Kerala over the years, mainly because of high land costs. In the last decade, the state has seen an investment of only around 6,000 crore from the national carrier. An average of only 350 crore was invested in the state annually during 2007-2014. The amount rose substantially after 2015-16 when it hit over 1,000 crore every year. In 2018-19, the state was given around 900 crore by Indian Railways. However, the money has been mainly used for upgrading and maintaining existing railway lines.