With 90% of the Dedicated Freight Corridor now scheduled to be completed in June 2023, Coal, food grain, and Export-Import freight movement are expected to get a major boost.
“Most of the dedicated freight corridor (DFC) tracks, over 90 percent, will be operational in the next year by June 2023. This will mean that around 2750 route kilometers (RKM) of the Eastern and Western DFC will be ready by then, and another 100 RKM is expected to be left for completion,” Ravindra Kumar Jain, Managing Director at Dedicated Freight Corridor Corp Ltd (DFCCIL) told ET.
The balance stretch pertains to Maharashtra, where DFCCIL is facing land and environmental clearance-related issues.
Jain said that presently there are up to 100 trains running on WDFC and 60 on EDFC, these numbers are likely to rise to 125-150 trains on WDFC and over 100 on EDFC by June 2023, he said.
He also said that trial train operations have started at the Mehsana – Palanpur section of the DFC in Gujarat. This is likely to soon get extended up to Sanand in the next couple of months.
The COVID-19 pandemic and subsequent slowing down of work at sites have pushed the initial plan of operationalizing DFCs by June 2022-end.
“Freight movement from ports in Gujarat to Delhi has already been cut down by a day. The biggest gainer by June next year will be coal and food grain movement will be in EDFC and Export-Import traffic on the WDFC will get a boost,” he added.
Jain said that trial train operations have started at the Mehsana – Palampur section of the DFC at an average speed of 55-65 kilometers per hour. This is double the speed of freight trains on the Indian Railways network.
At 1010 km completed, roughly half of the DFC has been commissioned till now. The EDFC which starts from Sahnewal near Ludhiana in Punjab and passes through Punjab, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, and Jharkhand to terminate at Dankuni in West Bengal has a planned route length of 1,875 RKM while WDFC is 1,504 RKM, and connects Dadri in Uttar Pradesh with the Jawaharlal Nehru Port in Maharashtra’s Navi Mumbai. It passes through Haryana, Rajasthan, Gujarat, and Maharashtra.
In 2006, the initial cost of these freight corridors was planned at Rs 21,140 crores, but it is now escalated to Rs 1.24 lakh crores in 2021. In January last year, Prime Minister Narendra Modi dedicated the 306 km Rewari – Madar section of the freight corridor to the nation.