After commissioning the 192-km Ateli-Phulera section of the Western Dedicated Freight Corridor (WDFC) on August 15, 2018, the Dedicated Freight Corridor Corporation of India (DFCCIL) is likely to make a case for the 1,100-km East Coast DFC (Kharagpur-Vijaywada) in the next financial year. “We will propose the East Coast Corridor, which will cost around `40,000 crore, in the next Budget. The financing model will be the same, that is some equity from Indian Railways and the rest via debt,” said Anurag Sachan, managing director of DFCCIL, a special purpose vehicle of the railways. DFCCIL has been entrusted with the job to develop DFCs.
The under-construction Eastern DFC is being funded by the World Bank and the Western DFC by Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), having a combined cost of `81,000 crore. Of this, `40,000 crore has already been spent. The DFCs are expected to be fully operational by March 2020. Sachan said the financing routes of both the JICA and the World Bank will be considered for the East Coast DFC and the Ministry of Railways will take the final call. Apart from the 1,856-km Eastern DFC (Ludhiana-Dankuni) and the 1,504-km Western DFC (Dadri-Jawaharlal Nehru Port), the railways had announced plans for an East-West DFC (Kolkata-Mumbai; 2,330 km), North-South DFC (Delhi-Chennai; 2,343 km), East Coast DFC (Kharagpur-Vijaywada; 1,100 km) and the Southern DFC (Chennai-Goa; 899 km). These lines cover most of the Golden Quadrilateral network, which at present is utilised over 100%, connecting the four metro cities.
Though this network accounts for only 20% of the tracks across the country, 55% of the traffic moves on it. Detailed project reports (DPRs) for all these routes have also been prepared. As reported by FE earlier, while the Chennai-Goa DFC seems financially unviable and the alignment is passing through difficult terrain, the East Coast DFC is likely to be taken up first. Sachan said DFCCIL is also working on business development plans for the two ongoing DFCs and is planning to create freight terminals to tap road traffic on the Delhi-Mumbai and Amritsar-Kanpur industrial corridors. “Not only do we plan to shift traffic from the railways’ network to DFC, but also generate fresh traffic on the DFC network.” As per estimates, traffic on the two DFCs will grow from around 400 million tonne (MT) in 2021 to 800 MT by 2031.