Indian Railways has expressed hope that both the Eastern and Western dedicated freight corridors will be commissioned by March 2020, though the project has seen just 50 per cent progress. On August 15, Prime Minister Narendra Modi will inaugurate the Ateli-Phulera section of Western Dedicated Freight Corridor. The distance between two stations is 190 km and it falls in Haryana (Mahendragarh district) and Rajasthan (Jaipur district).
“Over 98.7 per cent of the land acquisition is complete. During the current financial year, we expect to construct at least another 800 km, the rest will be over in 2019-20, before the deadline of March 2020,” said a senior railways official. The two corridors — Eastern Corridor from Ludhiana to Dankuni (1856 km) and the Western Corridor from Dadri to Jawahar Lal Nehru Port (JNPT) (1504 km) — are being constructed for exclusive movement of goods trains.
The project was facing a cost over-run of 189 per cent from the earlier lined up Rs281.81 billion in 2008 to Rs814.59 billion, including higher land price. The official added that this is because of the change in land laws during the UPA-II regime, through which land prices doubled from Rs80 billion to Rs160 billion.
The Dedicated Freight Corridor Corporation of India (DFCCIL) has already placed contracts worth Rs510 billion, while only about Rs30 billion worth of signalling contracts are only pending now. Investments have touched 47 per cent of the total estimate or Rs384.64 billion. DFCCIL is a special purpose vehicle (SPV) engaged in planning, construction, operation and maintenance of the Dedicated Freight Corridors.
For some time, the Ateli-Phulera section may not be operational throughtout the day, as railways want to utilise this for construction of the remaining areas in the Western Corridor. Railways expects atleast 70 million tonne of traffic during the initial days.
The current section includes six DFC stations in this section and two junctions (Ateli and Phulera).
DFCCIL will run freight train at the maximum speed of 100 km per hour (kmph) as against the current maximum speed of 75 kmph. Similarly, the average speed of freight trains may also increase from existing speed of 26 kmph to 70 kmph on Dedicated Freight Corridors (DFC).
Western DFC will be passing through Uttar Pradesh, Haryana, Rajasthan, Gujarat and Maharashtra and Eastern DFC through Punjab, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Jharkhand and West Bengal. The track substructure is designed for an axle load of 32.5 tonnes and superstructure with axle load of 25 tonnes. The Western Corridor is being funded by Japan International Corporation Agency (JICA), while the Eastern Corridor from Mughalsarai to Ludhiana is being funded by the World Bank.