Dedicated Freight Corridors

A Dedicated Freight Corridor (DFC) can be described as a network of railway lines “dedicated” for the movement of freight trains. Such DFCs are separate from the passenger railway networks to ensure uninterrupted movement of the freight trains. Railway tracks under DFC are often provided with a higher voltage overhead power line than that of normal passenger railway networks, so the freight trains can attain higher speeds.

India has one of the largest transport sectors. The railway network connecting the four metropolitan cities of Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai and Kolkata is known as the “Golden Quadrilateral” of The Indian Railways. The hypothetical diagonals of this Golden Quadrilateral connect Delhi– Chennai and Mumbai- Howrah. The total route length of the Golden Quadrilateral and its diagonals add up to 10,122 km and is responsible for generating more than 55% of the total revenue of the Indian Freight Railways. Though covering 16% of the routes in India, these corridors are “High Density Corridors” carrying 52% passengers and only 58% freight. The market share of the Indian Railways is falling which is a major concern for the Railways. Some other impending factors that are causes of concern, as far as DFCs are concerned are, these freight networks are highly congested, the train speeds are irregular, the railways are not equipped to carry longer and heavier freight trains and “longer turnaround areas”. So DFC is no longer an option but a necessity of yesterday…..larger transport corridors dedicated to the freight trains for the transportation of goods.

The Japanese Government is ready to extend their full cooperation towards building of DFCs in India. Japan is ready to provide technologies for the building of a new DFC, absolutely separate from the conventional lines complete with “automatic signaling system, communication and automated locomotives”. An ODA loan of 22,000 crores has been offered by Japan with interest rate as low as 0.1-0.2%, the only condition being at least 30% of the goods and other services should be availed from Japan. The time period stipulated for the repayment of the above mentioned loan is 14 years.

Dedicated Freight Corridor Corporation of India (DFCCIL), an AAA (given by CRISIL) and LAAA (SO) (L triple A) (structured obligation) Credit Opinion (given by ICRA) accredited corporate, set up in 2006 under the Ministry of Railways, is responsible for everything as far as DFCs are concerned starting from planning and development to construction, maintenance and other aspects of DFCs. DFCCIL has undertaken the largest and the most ambitious projects so far in DFCs that will bring about a plethora of changes in the railway infrastructure of India. The first phase of this plan involves the construction of two DFCs, the Western DFC and the Eastern DFC. The Eastern DFC will start from Ludhiana in Punjab passing through the states of Haryana, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and finally ending in Dankuni, West Bengal. The Western Corridor will start from Dadri to Mumbai and pass through the states of Delhi, Haryana, Rajasthan, Gujarat and Maharashtra. The two corridors are estimated to span a route length of 3300 kilometers and expected to be completed by 2017. The section between Mughalsarai and Sonnagar would be in commission by 2014. The Rail Ministry also has plans of completing a DFC spanning 66 kilometers by early 2014. The investment for this project will be Rs800 billion. High technology implementations are being included in the railway tracks as well as the overhead lines so the freight trains can travel uninterrupted at a high speed.

The proposed projects will no doubt increase higher freight capacity and reduce the travel time. This in turn will provide better customer satisfaction and enable The Indian Railways to meet the market requirements more efficiently.