New Delhi: In what could be one of the larger capacity-expansion projects to be announced this year, the Indian Railways plans to spend some Rs2,000 crore to double the railway track between Hoskote in Karnataka and Vasco in Goa.
A railway official, asking not to be named, said the Planning Commission cleared the project 10 days ago.
The project, measuring some 350km, connects the iron ore rich areas of Karnataka to ports in Goa.
The official said the project is part of a long-term capacity creation plan, which is likely to be the thrust of this year’s railway budget, scheduled to be presented on 3 July.
Another railway official said the railway budget would focus on both capacity creation and national priority projects such as North-East and Jammu and Kashmir connectivity.
The first railway official said the Hoskote-Goa project was designed with an eye on the future despite a fall in iron ore prices in late 2008. Karnataka is a significant source of iron ore deposits, containing an estimated 40% of the country’s total deposits.
“If they are doubling the Goa line, it is good. (But) it will be a very expensive project because it (the tracks) has to go through a ghat section,” said Rahulkumar Baldota, executive director, MSPL Ltd, which owns iron-ore mines in Hospet.
Baldota said mining firms in Hospet prefer ports on the west coast because of their proximity and lower shipping charges. “The freight differential for a vessel between the east coast and the west coast could be between half and one-and-a-half dollars,” he said.