New Delhi: Although it has moved at a snail’s pace since its inception, the ambitious Dedicated Freight Corridor (DFC) project is finally gearing up for its first trial on a limited section of its western arm on August 15.
A freight train with containers will run on the 192 km Ateli (Haryana)-Phulera (Rajasthan) section of the Western DFC on I-Day. However, the train will be hauled by a diesel locomotive, though both the Eastern and Western DFCs are expected to be fully electrified.
“Diesel locos will be used only for trial purposes as the electrification of the track is in progress,” a senior Railway Ministry official involved with the project told IANS.
The official is optimistic that the corridors will be fully electrified by the time of commissioning in March 2020.
The Rs 81,400 crore project had got the Union Cabinet’s green signal way back in 2006 and has since missed several completion deadlines due to various reasons, including procedural wrangles, land acquisition, environment clearances and other related issues.
While the Western DFC will cover 1,504 km from Jawaharlal Nehru Port Trust near Navi Mumbai to Dadri in Uttar Pradesh through Vadodara-Ahmedabad-Palanpur-Phulera-Rewari, the Eastern DFC covers 1,856 km from Ludhiana in Punjab to Dankuni, near Kolkata in West Bengal, and will traverse the states of Haryana, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and Jharkhand.
There are 10 viaducts and major bridges, 127 minor bridges, one railway overbridge and 118 road under bridges and six stations on Ateli-Phulera route.
The DFC, once completed, is expected to be the grand future of the Indian economy with an increased number of freight trains in eastern and western sectors of the country.
Since repeated failures in meeting targets have dampened spirits, the Railways is looking forward to the limited trial run on Independence Day.
There are also expectations that the inaugural trial run will be mentioned in Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s I-Day speech as the progress of the project is now reportedly being monitored by the Prime Minister’s Office.
The Railways has, in the recent past, sought to speed up the project with the use of the latest construction technologies such as mechanised boring/auguring of mast foundations, erection of electrical poles through machines, which are being tried for the first time by the national transporter.
There are also repeated visits by senior Railways officials involved with the project to inspect work at the sites.
The DFC project aims for a faster run of freight trains with the permissible maximum speed of 100 km per hour. This is expected to take average speeds up from the current 30 km per hour to about 75 km per hour.
The targeted completion of the project was 2016-17, shifted to the year-end of 2017-18 and now has finally been set at March 2020.
Besides speeding up the movement of freight, the project also aims at easing the congested main trunk routes for passenger traffic.
The Western DFC is being funded by Japan International Corporation Agency (JICA), while the Eastern DFC from Mughalsarai to Ludhiana is being funded by the World Bank.
The project is crucial for Indian Railways as it faces stiff competition from the road sector for goods movement. The shifting of goods from roads to rail will also save precious fossil fuel which will be a boon for the environment.