Indian Railways Dedicated Freight Corridor: First portion to be operational by 2018

Indian Railways Dedicated Freight Corridor: First portion to be operational by 2018

The first portion of the railways’ long-awaited dedicated freight corridor (DFC) will become operational by March 2018 between Ateli and Phulera. This will be a 190-km double track route — a total of 380-km track length — on the Western DFC, and the Dedicated Freight Corridor Corporation of India (DFCCIL) has already committed this to the railway ministry.

In addition, around 500-600 km of additional track length will be operational by financial year 2018-19, according to a DFCCIL official. The official, however, did not name the regions as they are still to be committed to the railway ministry.

DFCCIL, a special purpose vehicle of the railways, has been entrusted to develop six DFCs across the country, of which, the Eastern DFC and the Western DFC have been taken up on priority basis with funding assistance from World Bank and Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), respectively.

The Ateli-Phulera section will take over the freight load from the Indian Railways, and in total, DFCs will transfer a minimum of 70% of the freight carried by the Indian Railways on tracks parallel to DFCs. While JICA has sanctioned R38,722-crore loan, World Bank has committed $2.725 billion till now for the project.

According to DFCCIL MD Adesh Sharma, the capital expenditure is expected to reach R10,000 crore in the current financial year with total investments till date reaching R29,760 crore.

The cost of operations on the DFCs is expected to go up by 40% as it will have longer trains with higher tonnage capacity compared with the existed operational ones. The average speed in these tracks is also expected to rise threefold to 70-75 km per hour from the current 20-25 km per hour.

One rack on the DFC will be able to carry 13,000 tonnes of load compared with 5,000 tonnes carried by racks on the existing railway tracks.

According to Sharma, tariffs on these corridors will be lower and once all the corridors are operational, the railways’ share in carrying freight will rise from the current 30% to 50%.

While the Eastern DFC will connect Mughalsarai to Ludhiana, the Western DFC will run between Dadri and Jawahar Lal Nehru Port.

According to Sharma, almost 96% of the land required for the two DFCs has been acquired, though it is facing some issues in patches on the Khurja-Kanpur section on the Eastern DFC which is slated to operational by August 2018.

Around 160 hectares of land in Maharashtra and 184 hectares in Uttar Pradesh are also facing acquisition issues which the SPV expects to resolve by July. A total of 10,600 hectares of land is required for the two corridors excluding the Dankuni-Sonenagar stretch on the Eastern DFC which will be implemented through PPP.

DFCCIL has awarded contracts worth Rs 35,700 crore in the last two years and contracts worth R11,700 crore have been awarded since April 2016.

“All the contracts including civil and electrical on the Western DFC have been awarded and work has started on all patches,” said Sharma.

Till now, 500 km of DFC has been laid with 100 m being done per day at places where manual labour is engaged and 1.5 km where mechanised NTC machines are being used.

At present three such machines are operational and by June, four more will be deployed, taking the per day track laying average to 9-10 km per day.