New Delhi: The Indian Railways is trying to put the much-touted Rs28,181 crore dedicated freight corridor (DFC) project on track amid roadblocks.
The Japanese International Cooperation Agency (JBIC), which has agreed to provide about Rs18,000 crore for the construction cost of the proposed 2,763-km freight corridor, has raised questions about the technology to be used and the cost of the project in its interim report submitted to the railway ministry.
The DFC project aims to link Delhi, Mumbai and Kolkata with high speed connectivity for exclusive freight movement. The project consists of 1,483-km Delhi-Mumbai route, also known as western corridor and 1,280-km Delhi-Kolkata route, known as eastern corridor. While the construction of the western corridor is estimated to cost Rs16,592 crore, the cost of building the eastern corridor is estimated to cost Rs11,588 crore.
While the railways want to run double stacked containers in Delhi-Mumbai corridor by diesel locomotive, the JBIC has suggested electric locomotives because it is environment-friendly.
The JBIC has also estimated in its interim report, the total cost of the DFC at a whopping Rs50,000 crore, almost double than the railway’s estimate.
“We have received the interim report of the JBIC in which they have raised certain issues. We are examining it and we would respond to it accordingly. Anyway it is only an interim report and the final report would be submitted in October only,” R.N. Verma, Advisor, Railway Board (Infrastructure), said.
The JBIC is also not in favour of double-stacked containers to run on the western sector while for Indian Railway it is a key component of the project.
While the eastern corridor is to carry mostly iron ore and coal, the western corridor is meant to carry high value goods for which double stacked containers are the best medium.
The Railway Ministry has already got the approval for the DFC from the Cabinet Committee of Economy Affairs. Railways aims to carry 785 million tons of revenue earning traffic this year and expects to carry more than 1,100 million tons of freight traffic by the end of the 11th Five-Year Plan.
The railway has run the double stacked containers in the 800-km Mundra-Jaipur link on a trial basis and it wants to extend the operation in other sectors as well.
“The project is definitely on as the government is committed to constructing dedicated freight corridor for speedier movement of goods trains between major cities,” Verma said adding “we have already completed the final location survey for 600-km of the project.”
While the proposed eastern corridor is to connect Ludhiana with Sonanagar via Ambala, Saharanpur, Khurja and Allahabad in the first phase and later extend to Kolkata, the western corridor will start from Tughlakabad connecting Rewari, Jaipur, Palanpur, Ahmedabad, Vadodara and finally Jawarharlal Nehru Port in Mumbai.
Development of exclusive freight corridor for carrying additional traffic is essential in view of high growth in demand. The high density network of Delhi-Mumbai and Delhi-Kolkata has got saturated at most locations. The dedicated corridor would increase the traffic and also the speed of goods trains.
Industrial development particularly in the eastern sector is likely to generate enough transport demand. For example, production of steel is likely to go up from the present level of 33 million tons to 100 million tons in the next 15 years. The finished steel from eastern region is likely to flow to other regions.