(Technology, Capacity and Sustainability at one place)
Rail vs Road
The Indian Railways’ Golden Quadrilateral Linking 4 Metropolitan Cities of Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai & Howrah, and its two diagonals (Delhi-Chennai and Mumbai-Howrah) comprise 16% of the route but carry more than 52% of passenger traffic and 58% of revenue earning freight traffic of Indian Railway (IR).
Line capacity utilisation varies between 115% and 150% making this trunk route saturated. Over the year, Railways lost the share in freight traffic from 88% in the 1950s to 26% in the 2020s. Not only this, but the national highways also, along with these corridors comprising 0.5% of the road network, carried almost 40% of the road traffic. The surging domestic economy, booming infrastructure construction and growing international trade led to the conception of Dedicated Freight Corridors (DFCs) along the eastern and western arms of the Golden Quadrilateral.
Genesis of DFC
Ministry of Railways made a historic announcement of the creation of DFCs in parliament while presenting the railway budget for 2005-06. The project was discussed at the Japan-India Summit Meeting and was included in the declaration of cooperation between the two countries for a feasibility study and possible funding of the project by the Japanese government. The Ministry of Railways established a Special Purpose Vehicle (SPV), Dedicated Freight Corridor Corporation of India Limited (DFCCIL), for the construction, operation, and maintenance of DFCs. DFCCIL envisaged decongesting the already saturated road network and promoting shifting freight transport to more efficient rail transport. The mission is expected to save over 450 MMT of CO2 emissions in the first 30 years of its operations.
The design features of DFCs provide a definitive improvement over the existing Indian Railway transport system in terms of height, width, train length, train load, axel load, average speed, traction and signalling. DFCCIL’s mission is to build a corridor with appropriate technology that enables Indian Railways to regain its market share of freight transport by creating additional capacity and guaranteeing efficient, reliable, safe, and cheaper options for mobility to its customers. It also intends to set up multimodal logistic parks along with the DFC to provide complete transport solutions to customers.
It will support the government’s initiative towards ecological sustainability by encouraging users to adopt railways as the most environment-friendly mode for their transport requirements.
In phase I, DFCCIL is constructing two corridors, namely Western DFC (WDFC – 1506 km) and Eastern DFC (EDFC – 1337 km) from Dadri (UP) to JNPT (Maharashtra) and Sahnewal (Punjab) to Dankuni (West Bengal) respectively.
The project progress for these corridors is 81% and 92%, with an expected target date for completion as 30th March 2024 and 31st March 2023, respectively. The other corridors being planned are East Coast Corridor (1080 km) from Khadakpur (West Bengal) to Vijayawada (AP), East West Corridor (1738 km) from Bhusawal (Maharashtra) to Dankuni (West Bengal) with possible extensions on both ends and North-South Corridor (890 km) from Itarsi (MP) to Vijayawada (AP). The primary traffic potentials/ source for these corridors are mines of coal and iron, CONCOR ICDs, FCI godown, thermal power plants, Petroleum, Oil and Lubricants (POL), cement plants, fertilisers and the like.
First-time supply of major equipment like transformers, auto-transformer and other conductors will be from indigenous sources and per international specifications; Up to 50% quantity of such equipment can be supplied through technology transfer agreement(s) through their Indian partners under the ‘Make in India’ initiative. The developed business capacity will be helpful in future corridors, high-speed railways, Indian Railways, and other Metro systems.
DFCs will also be using various signal and telecommunication equipment such as Train Protection and Warning System (TPWS), Train Management System (TMS), and Global System for Mobile Communication for Railways (GSM-R). Besides, it will also be using the most modern engineering practices in its civil and electrical systems.
Funding the Project
The cost estimate of over Rs. 81,000 cr for Eastern and Western DFCs, including land cost, has been considered as per the approvals provided. The cost for the project will be funded by a combination of debt from bilateral/ multilateral agencies [Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) and World Bank] and equity from the Ministry of Railways. The capital structure of DFCCIL will entail a debt-equity ratio of 3:1.
The DFC revolution in the Railway sector will bring significant infrastructural change in the Indian logistics industry in terms of cost, speed and capacity.
The commissioning of major corridors on the East and West and incoming ones across the length and width of the country would provide environmentally friendly, crossing free and convenient connectivity of industries and mines with ports and consumption centres.
DFCs, coupled with industrial corridors along its lengths and developments on waterways and Sagarmala would present first-ever opportunities for business enterprises to support fast-paced industrialisation and bring logistic costs at par with global bests.
This evolving landscape in the Railway sector will also present opportunities for automation and innovation in the IT sector.
Sources: Official websites of Dedicated Freight Corridor Corporation of India, Ministry of Railways (Government of India) and Indian Port Rail & Ropeway Corporation Limited, and the Major Ports in India.
Citation: This Insight may be cited as InfEneTy ‘Dedicated Freight Corridor – Getting back modal share (Technology, Capacity and Sustainability at one place)’ 05.10.2022
Tags: Freight Corridor; Railways; Golden Quadrilateral; Logistics; Transportation; Transport Policy; Logistics PolicyAbout InfEneTy
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