New Delhi

Nearly 400 km of the originally proposed Dedicated Freight Corridor – covering a stretch from Bihar’s Sonnagar to West Bengal ‘s Andal – will now be developed directly by the Ministry of Railways. While the entire 100 per cent or 1,337 km of the Eastern Dedicated Freight Corridor (EDFC) is “operational”, around 70 per cent of the Western Dedicated Freight Corrridor is ready, at present.

The EDFC has been developed at a cost of Rs 51,000 crore.

The total cost of the DFC, including Western India routes and other supporting infrastructure like multi-modal parks, train sidings, among others is pegged at Rs 124,000 crore.

Revised routes completion by March 2024

According to Ravindra Kumar Jain, Managing Director, Dedicated Freight Corridor Corporation of India Ltd (DFCCIL), 95 per cent of the revised routes covering 2,843 kms – across EDFC and WDFC – “will be ready by March 2024”.

Nearly 84 per cent of the existing DFC route is already operational.

“So while the Sonnagar – Dankuni stretch (subsequently revised to Andal in West Bengal) is being developed by Ministry of Railways and excluded from EDFC, there is some slowdown of work on a 100 km stretch from JNPT to Vaitarana (Mumbai) for various reasons. While nearly 50 per cent of this 100 km stretch should be ready by FY24 end, the EDFC is ready for commissioning,” he said.

Jain did not specify the reasons for delay except “topographical issues”.

Trial run successful

Nearly 70 pairs of trains (up and down) are already running on EDFC, mostly carrying coal (50 pairs), with the average speed being between 50 and 60 km per hr. Trial train run between Ludhiana and Khurja (UP) was completed earlier this month.

On the western side, connection of the Dedicated Freight Corridor with Gujarat’s various ports – like Kandla, Pipavav, Mundra – are complete.

The WDFC will cover a 1,506 km route connecting states including Rajasthan, Gujarat, Maharashtra with Uttar Pradesh and Haryana.

On the other hand, the EDFC now covering 1,337 km passes through states like Punjab, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh, Jharkhand and Bihar.

The WDFC and EDFC will connect with one another at Khurja in Uttar Pradesh.

Ministry Intervention

According to Ministry officials, the Rs 12,000 crore Sonnagar – Andal (previously Dankuni) route of the DFC was planned to be developed under a PPP (public private partnership) mode. But subsequently plans were changed considering the limited success of such PPP projects.

It was decided that the route, shortened to 400 km from 540 km, will be developed by the Ministry via the various zonal Railways under EPC route, said the official.

“The reason to shorten the project till Andal was primarily because 95 per cent of the land required was already in possession of the Railways. Necessary approvals are being awaited for the project to start,” the official said.