Deemed as the largest rail infrastructure being built in independent India, the 2,843-km project, which has been in the making since 2006, is now finally on the track to implementation, in phases.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi virtually inaugurated the ”New Bhaupur-New Khurja” section of the Eastern Dedicated Freight Corridor recently.
The Dedicated Freight Corridor project
The Dedicated Freight Corridor is one of the largest railway infrastructure projects undertaken by the government at an overall cost of INR 81,459 crore. The project consists of two arms.
The section launched yesterday is part of the 1,839-km Eastern DFC that starts at Sohnewal (Ludhiana) in Punjab and ends at Dankuni in West Bengal. The other arm is the around 1,500-km Western DFC from Dadri in Uttar Pradesh to JNPT in Mumbai, touching all major ports along the way.
The 351-km section spans between Khurja, the 12th stop after Sohnewal in the North, to New Bhaupur, near Kanpur.
Other stretches are Sohnewal to Khurja (365 km), Bhaupur to Pandit Deen Dayal Upadhyay (Mughalsarai) (400 km), then to Sonnagar in West Bengal (137 km), then to Dankuni via Gomoh in Jharkhand (538 km).
There is also a section under construction between Dadri and Khurja to connect the Eastern and Western arms.
The DFCCIL(Dedicated Freight Corridor Corporation of India Limited) is the dedicated agency that is overseeing the implementation of the project.
Why DFC is the key project for the Railways
Around 70% of the freight trains currently running on the Indian Railway network are expected to shift to the freight corridors, leaving the paths open for more passenger trains.
Built at a cost of INR 5,750 crore through a loan from World Bank, the new stations in this section are Bhaupur, Kanchausi, Achalda, Ekdil, Bhadan, Makhanpur, Tundla, Hathras, Daudkan and Khurja. This section passes through Kanpur Dehat, Auraiya, Etawah, Firozabad, Hathras, Aligarh and Bulandshahr districts in Uttar Pradesh.
The names of a majority of its stations are prefixed with ‘New’, such as New Bhaupur, New Khurja since all the installations are new, including the stations.
Tracks on DFC are designed to carry heavier loads than most of Indian Railways. DFC will get track access charge from the parent Indian Railways, and also generate its own freight business.
A new beginning for Freight trains
The DFC project is a much-awaited project for the country, as it is equivalent to creating an entire railway network from scratch, independent of Indian Railways.
With the DFCs coming into play, the freight trains on the section will help decongest the existing Kanpur-Delhi main line of Indian Railways, which at present handles trains at 150% of its line capacity. This section currently has over 50 passenger trains and around 60 goods trains keeping the movement intact. With the new section, more passenger trains will be regulated and it will adhere to a punctual regime.
Major Changes anticipated
For a first-of-its-kind project, there are major changes awaited. 68 existing level crossings have been removed to increase speed, to free the section of any permanent or temporary speed restrictions.
Freight trains usually suffer from unpredictable running times and low speeds of around 25 km per hour. But on this new section they can run at 50-60 kph.
This section will also attract the freight traffic originating from key centres such as Kanpur Dehat, Aurayia, Etawah, Firozabad, Hathras, Aligarh and Bulandshahr. The existing industrial areas of Aligarh, Khuja, Firozabad, Agra and Bhaupur will become key growth centres of the area, the Dedicated Freight Corridor Corporation projects in its business development plan.
These areas are agriculture hubs producing potato, paddy and maize.
New Makhanpur (Firozabad) and New Daudkhan (Aligarh) will be opened as common user terminals aimed at local farmers in sending their produce to the larger markets.
More sections for the Dedicated Freight Corridor
More sections will keep getting commissioned in the coming months.
There is 61% progress in the Bhaupur to Deen Dayal Upadhyay section, and 180 km of the 402 km will be complete by December 21, year while 22 km will be done by June 2022. Thereafter the stretch to Sonnagar will see 100 km completed by March next year.
The 401-km Khurja to Sanhewal section has had only 39% progress. It will be done by June 2022.
A 46-km link between Khurja (Eastern) and Dadri (Western) will be ready by March 2021. By December 2021, Kanpur-Khurja area will get connected to the western ports of Kandla, Mundra, and Pipava, via the 127-km Dadri-Rewari section in the Western arm, its target advanced by several months.
In the Western DFC, the section between Rewari (Haryana) and Madar (Rajasthan) has been completed. The subsequent sections are up to Palanpur in Gujarat (to be done in the next three months), then to Makarpura (by March 2022) and finally to JNPT (June 2022).