Indian railway is set to get its first publicly dedicated freight corridor after 165 years of its birth on August 15, when the country will be celebrating its 72nd Independence Day. The 190km line falls under Western Dedicated Freight Corridor (WDFC) is longest in India, it runs from Dadri in Uttar Pradesh to Jawaharlal Nehru Port Trust (JNPT) in Mumbai, Maharashtra. The project took almost 12 years to complete after its cabinet nod in February 2006. This tells the story of the lackluster attitude of the previous governments towards the project. The UPA government was able to award only 18.45 percent of the contracts as of March 2014. This government has been able to complete land acquisition and awarding the contracts for the projects within four years. The delay in the project has led to a cost overrun of 189 percent from the earlier lined up of Rs 281.81 billion in 2008 to Rs 814.59 billion.
The WDFC will be connected to Eastern Dedicated Freight Corridor (EDFC) at Dadri. ” The feeder route at Tundla is already in place and the Ateli-Phulera route will be functional from August 15th. The Rs 814-billion-project of Eastern and Western DFCs will cover a total of 3,360 km track, of which around 1,500 km falls in the western region starting from Dadri to JNPT”, said a government official. The Japan International Cooperation Agency is providing a loan of Rs 387.22 billion for the Western India project, the Eastern DFC (Mughalsarai-Allahabad-Kanpur-Khurja-Dadri- & Khurja-Ludhiana) is being funded by the World Bank through a loan of $2.360 billion. The availability of loans was ensured by this government in the last four years. The railway is planning to commission WDFC and EDFC by April 2020. The trial run on WDFC achieved a speed of 100 km per hour. According to an official “there will be at least 10 feeder lines in the western corridor only connecting the main line to the supply freight. This is going to reduce the traffic by more than half in these busy routes”.
The planning & development, mobilization of financial resources and construction, maintenance and operation of the Dedicated Freight Corridors is done by The Dedicated Freight Corridor Corporation of India Limited (DFCCIL), which is a corporation under Ministry of Railways. Except for EDFC and WDFC, three more corridors were approved by the Modi government in the 2016-17 budget. These are the 2328 km long East-West Corridor between Kolkata to Mumbai, the 2327 km long North-South Corridor between Delhi and Chennai, and 1115 km long East Coast Corridor between Kharagpur and Vijayawada. Another 890 km long South-West dedicated freight corridor is planned between Chennai and Goa. This will complete Golden Quadrilateral Freight Corridor (GQFC) which will link four largest metropolitan cities of Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai and Kolkata and two diagonals North-South Dedicated Freight Corridor (Delhi-Chennai) and East-West Dedicated Freight Corridor (Kolkata-Mumbai). These carry 55% of the India Railway’s freight traffic over a total 10,122 km (6,290 mi) route length.
The railways were losing their edge in freight transport slowly due to well-developed road infrastructure in the country. This is a huge loss for railways as freight is the main source of profit for them. As per the National Transport Development Policy Committee Report, in 2010 Railways’ share in freight traffic in the country was estimated to be 36%. The newly dedicated freight corridors will once again give chance to railways to capture the goods transportation market.
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