Sitting next to V Muraleedharan, rail min Ashwini states SilverLine project not a 'closed chapter'

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Aswhini Vaishnaw and V Muraleedharan | Photo: ANI, Mathrubhumi

New Delhi: The Kerala government's ambitious SilverLine semi-high speed rail project is not a closed chapter, said union railway minister Ashwini Vaishnaw on Tuesday. However, he declined to comment further on the status of the project.

“That is a totally separate discussion. We can have a full press conference to discuss that,” he said while reacting to the question of a media person during a press conference held here to discuss the Vande Bharat train allotted to Kerala.

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Answering another question, he said that the promised discussion with Kerala chief minister regarding state's railway development is yet to take place. “Time is the issue. It will happen,” he said.

The detailed project report of the SilverLine project, an undertaking of K-Rail, the joint venture of the state government and the railway ministry, is now under consideration by the Railways.

BJP leaders from the state, including union minister V Muraleedharan, had criticised the project. Muraleedharan even announced that the Railways would come up with an alternative to it. A delegation of Kerala BJP, led by state president K Surendran, had met Vaishnaw in New Delhi to press him to drop the project. E Sreedharan and Muraleedharan were also part of it. When the Vande Bharat was allotted to Kerala, Muraleedharan stated that the SilverLine project had become 'irrelevant'. Vaishnaw last year said the project is 'complicated' and an appropriate decision will be taken after deliberations.

Interestingly, Muraleedharan was also present at the press conference on Tuesday when Vaishnaw said the project is not shelved yet.

The allocation of Vande Bharat train to Kerala has triggered the debate of ‘SIlverLine vs Vande Bharat’ which was earlier taken up by BJP and Congress leaders alike. Opposition leader of the Kerala Assembly, VD Satheesan, and MP Shashi Tharoor had asked the Kerala government to drop the SilverLine project in view of the proposed Vande Bharat train for the state. Meanwhile, the ruling CPM maintains that Vande Bharat is just another train that runs on the already saturated track and SilverLine is a mass rapid transport system that would boost the state's economy. It says the project cannot be compared with Vande Bharat Express train.

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