With Prime Minister Manmohan Singh setting the ball rolling for infrastructure projects, long-pending railway projects take centre-stage again. These projects, if implemented within time, could turn around the fortunes of Indian Railways though there is a question mark over the timeline.
According to the target set by the Prime Minister, contracts for the Sonnagar-Dankuni section of the Dedicated Freight Corridor, elevated rail corridor in Mumbai and locomotive factories in Madhepura and Marhowra should be awarded this year.
The first project to take off is the elevated rail corridor of Mumbai connecting Churchgate and Virar, with total investment of Rs 20,000 crore. The project is expected to be funded through passenger fares, real estate development of the nearby area and at most 20 per cent funding could be through VGF (Viability Gap funding). A senior railway official said, “The Request For Proposal will be issued anytime soon and bidders will be shortlisted by July. The feasibility study has been completed. As the documentation for the metro projects is already available, they can be adapted for this rail corridor.”
On the freight side, a senior railway ministry official said, the preliminary project report of Sonnagar-Dankuni had been made, in which the broad contours like its alignment, cost and technical specifications had been finalised. The Dedicated Freight Corridor Corporation had already started land acquisition work for the 550-km stretch which would require 1,002 hectare. Documentation for the concession agreement that would decide the contours of a public-private partnership (PPP) was yet to be done, he said.
The long-pending projects of locomotive factories in Madhepura and Marhowra are languishing since 2007. The PQ (pre qualification) for these locomotive units has been done. The contract is under revision. After revision, it will go to the Cabinet for approval.
Station redevelopment of four or five stations will be done in PPP mode. Adarsh stations are provided with basic facilities such as drinking water, adequate toilets, catering services, waiting rooms and dormitories, especially for lady passengers, better signage, etc.
A total of 929 stations have been identified during 2009-10 to 2012-13 for development under Adarsh station scheme. A total of 550 stations have been developed under the scheme so far.
“Since this required a lot of support from the state government and consensus has to be built to finalise the concession agreement how long it takes, it is difficult to say,” said a railway official. The PM has also asked the ministry to form a proposal of all the alternatives and approach for the High Speed Corridor (Bullet train) of Mumbai-Ahmedabad. French consultant M/S Systra has given the final report and it is under examination by the stake holders.