By Nayan Dave
Gujarat’s industrial hub Sanand, where major manufacturing units of Tata Motors, Nestle, Parle, Posco India, Coca Cola, Bosch, Hitachi Hirel, Alstom Bharat Forge, Colgate-Palmolive and others are situated, is all set to connect with the Western Dedicated Freight Corridor (WDFC) by the end of August.
“Of the total 1,504 km of double line electric tracks planned between Rewari to Mumbai as part of WDFC, more than 720 km have already become operational from Rewari to Mehsana. At present 80 to 100 goods trains are running on WDFC daily. Another 80-km electric track from Mehsana to Sanand, on the outskirts of Ahmedabad will be commissioned in the next couple of months,” Ravindra Kumar Jain, managing director at Dedicated Freight Corridor Corporation of India Limited (DFCCIL), told FE.
The ministry of railways formed DFCCIL, a Special Purpose Vehicle for construction, operation and maintenance of the dedicated freight Corridors (DFCs) in the country. DFCCIL was set up in 2006 with the mandate to build, operate, and maintain dedicated freight railway lines along the Golden Quadrilateral rail routes and its diagonals.
Due to WDFC connectivity, not only Sanand industrial hub but industries at the upcoming Mandal–Becharaji Special Investment Region (SIR) will also benefit. Suzuki Motor and Honda Scooters already have plants here. WDFC passes through Haryana, Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan, Gujarat and Maharashtra. Nearly 38% (565 km) of the total length of WDFC passes through Gujarat’s 12 districts. Due to WDFC, Gujarat-based ports including Pipavav, Mundra, Kandla, Hazira and others will get a big boost in import-export traffic movement.
Jain claims that Gujarat’s 565 route kilometres (RKM) will become operational by the end of the current financial year. Except 100 km of RKM from New Palghar to JNPT (Mumbai), the entire WDFC is expected to be commissioned by June 2023 as DFCCIL is facing issues related to environment clearance and land acquisition.
The entire Western Corridor is being funded through a loan from Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) in two phases. JICA agreed to give a loan of nearly Rs 210 billion for phase-I Rewari-Vadodara (947 RKM) and Rs 180 billion for phase-2 Vadodara–JNPT (430 RKM). Once fully operational, up to 500 trains will run on WDFC daily.
In fact, DFCCIL had planned to make WDFC and Eastern Dedicated Freight Corridor (EDFC) by June 2022, but due to Covid-19 pandemic, pace of work slowed down. “EDFC’s 1340 RKM form will be commissioned by the end of June 2023. At present 620 RKM out of total is operational. Nearly 60 trains are running on EDFC currently. We are hopeful of completing work for both the DFCs in one year except the 100 km patch in Maharashtra,” said DFCCIL MD.