Expediting the much-delayed Dedicated Freight Corridor (DFC) project, the railways will conduct a trial run of a goods train on the newly-completed 306 km section between Madar (Ajmer) in Rajasthan and Kishangarh (Rewari) in Haryana in the western segment on Sunday.
This section is a vital alignment on the Delhi-Mumbai corridor and aims to augment the transportation capacity of freight, besides hugely reducing the load on the existing rail network that is congested with passenger and goods traffic.
Equipped for heavy-haul train operation with 25 tonne axle loads for the first time in the country, the section contains 15 major bridges and 271 minor bridges and 177 Road Under Bridges (RUB).
Currently, Indian trains haul a 22.5 tonne axle load while heavy-haul operations are carried out only in the US, Canada, Brazil, Australia, China, Russia, South Africa, Sweden and Norway.
The 306 km route has six newly-built freight stations – Dabla, Bhagega, Sri Madhopur, Pachar Malikpur, Sakhun and Kishangarh and three junctions – Rewari, Ateli and Phulera.
The DFC project is crucial for Indian Railways as it faces stiff competition from the road sector for the movement of goods. The shifting of goods from roads to rail will also save precious fossil fuel which will be a boon for the environment.
The Rs 81,400 crore DFC project had got the Union Cabinet’s green signal way back in 2006 and has since missed several deadlines due to various reasons, including procedural wrangles, land acquisition and environmental clearances, among others.
The earlier targeted completion of the project was 2016-17. It was shifted to 2017-18 and now has finally been set at March 2020.
Admitting the delay in the past, a senior railway official invovlved in the project said: “Work is on in full swing now and we are hopeful of completing the project in 2020.”
Stepping up its efforts, the DFC in November had completed the 194 km section from Bhadan to Khurja (in Uttar Pradesh) of the Eastern Dedicated Freight Corridor (EDFC).
The Dedicated Freight Corridor Corporation (DFCC), a spcial purpose vehicle (SPV) has been formed for planning, constructing, operating and maintaining the exclusive corridors for the movement of goods.
While the Western DFC will cover 1,504 km from Jawaharlal Nehru Port Trust near Navi Mumbai to Dadri in Uttar Pradesh via Vadodara-Ahmedabad-Palanpur-Phulera-Rewari, the Eastern DFC covers 1,856 km from Ludhiana in Punjab to Dankuni, near Kolkata in West Bengal, and will traverse the states of Haryana, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and Jharkhand.
The DFC, one of India’s largest rail infrastructure projects, is expected to be the grand future of the Indian economy with an increased number of freight trains in eastern and western sectors of the country.
The Western DFC is being funded by Japan International Corporation Agency (JICA), while the Eastern DFC from Mughalsarai to Ludhiana is being funded by the World Bank.