Indian Railways’ Dedicated Freight Corridor project: Why is it important for the national transporter

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Updated: Dec 30, 2020 2:42 PM

The 351-km long DFC section stretches between Khurja, which is the 12th stop after Sohnewal in the North, to New Bhaupur, near the city of Kanpur in UP.

DFC, dedicated freight corridorThe total 2,843-km DFC is known to be the largest Indian Railways' infrastructure project, being built in independent India.

A 351-km long Dedicated Freight Corridor (DFC) section between Khurja and Bhaupur in Uttar Pradesh has been inaugurated by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Tuesday. Apart from this, PM Modi also dedicated a state-of-the-art Operation Control Centre in Prayagraj to the nation. The total 2,843-km DFC is known to be the largest Indian Railways’ infrastructure project, being built in independent India. The DFC project comprises of two arms. The newly launched Khurja-Bhaupur section is part of the 1,839-km Eastern DFC. The EDFC starts at Sohnewal, Punjab and ends at Dankuni, in the state of West Bengal. The other arm- the Western DFC is nearly 1,500-km long. The WDFC starts from Dadri, UP and ends at JNPT, Mumbai.

According to an IE report, the 351-km long DFC section stretches between Khurja, which is the 12th stop after Sohnewal in the North, to New Bhaupur, near the city of Kanpur in UP. Other stretches are Sohnewal to Khurja (365 kilometres), Bhaupur to Pt. Deen Dayal Upadhyay (400 kilometres), then to Sonnagar in WB (137 kilometres), then to Dankuni via Gomoh in the state of Jharkhand (538 kilometres). Also, to connect the Eastern and Western arms of the DFC project, there is a section under construction between Dadri and Khurja.

Approximately 70 per cent of the freight trains that are running on the Indian Railway network at present are slated to shift to the DFCs, leaving the routes open for more passenger trains. The DFC project is built at a cost of Rs 5,750 crore through financial assistance from the World Bank (World Bank is funding a majority of the Eastern DFC while the Japan International Cooperation Agency is funding the Western DFC). In this section, the new stations are Bhaupur, Ekdil, Achalda, Kanchausi, Tundla, Hathras, Bhadan, Makhanpur, Daudkan and Khurja. This DFC section passes through the districts of Kanpur Dehat, Firozabad, Aligarh, Auraiya, Etawah, Hathras and Bulandshahr in UP.

In the DFC project, all the installations are new including the stations. Because of this, the names of a majority of the stations are prefixed with ‘New’, like New Khurja, New Bhaupur, etc. The DFC rail tracks are designed to carry heavier loads than most of the Indian Railways. According to the report, DFC will get track access charge from the national transporter, as well as generate its own freight business.

The goods trains running on this section will help decongest the existing Main line of Indian Railways, connecting Kanpur and Delhi, which currently handles trains at 150 per cent of its line capacity. At present, this railway section has more than 50 passenger trains and about 60 freight trains jostling for paths daily. Fertilisers and foodgrain are transported from the northern region to the eastern and Northeast regions. While coal, jute, iron ore and petroleum products are transported from East and Northeast to North and West.

According to the report, there are certain firsts for this DFC section. For instance, to augment speed, 68 existing level crossings have been eliminated. Thus, this is the only major section on the Indian Railways network that is free from any permanent or temporary speed restrictions. On this new section, freight trains can run at 50-60 km per hour. This DFC section will also catch the goods traffic originating from key centres like Kanpur Dehat, Firozabad, Aurayia, Etawah, Aligarh, Bulandshahr and Hathras. The Dedicated Freight Corridor Corporation projects in its business development plan that the existing industrial areas of Aligarh, Bhaupur, Firozabad, Khuja, Agra will become major growth centres of the area. For local farmers to send their produce to the larger markets, New Makhanpur and New Daudkhan will be opened as common user terminals.

In the coming months, more sections will keep getting commissioned. In the Bhaupur to Deen Dayal Upadhyay section, there is 61 per cent progress, and 180 km of the 402 km will be done by December 21, next year while 22 km will be complete by June 2022. Thereafter, by the month of March next year, the stretch to Sonnagar will see 100 km completed. The 401-km long section from Khurja to Sanhewal has had only 39 per cent progress and it is likely to be done by June 2022.

By March 2021, a 46-km long section between Khurja (Eastern DFC) and Dadri (Western DFC) will be ready. By end of 2021, Kanpur-Khurja area will get connected via the 127-km Dadri-Rewari section to the western ports of Mundra, Kandla, and Pipava in the Western arm, its target advanced by several months. Meanwhile, the section between Rewari and Madar in the Western DFC has been completed. The report added, the subsequent sections are up to Palanpur in the state of Gujarat (to be completed in the next 3 months), then to Makarpura (by the month of March, year 2022) and finally to JNPT (by the month of June, year 2022).

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