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Ease of doing business! Indian Railways freight rates may come down by 50% with dedicated freight corridors

Yash Shukla

The Indian Railways freight charges may get slashed by up to 50 per cent with the completion of the two dedicated freight corridors by December 2021. The government is working on a 3300 km long network of two dedicated freight corridors in the country which will be exclusively used to ply goods trains. The Rs 81,000 crore projects will not only reduce the time taken to transport goods drastically but also de-stress the existing tracks of the Indian Railways choked by increasing passenger and freight traffic.

The trains will run at a speed of 100 km per hour with the help of an automated signal system which will take the freight charges 50 per cent less than what is being charged by the Indian Railways, Managing Director of Dedicated Freight Corridor Corporation of India Limited (DFCCIL) Anurag Sachan was quoted as saying by PTI. He also informed that 120 trains per day from one side will run once the dedicated corridors become operational in December 2021.

The huge capacity of the corridor pegged at 13000 tonnes in a day will not be left under-utilised and charges will be lowered in order to attract more customers, Sachan said. He further said that non-discriminatory access will be provided to private players to run their freight trains on the corridor.

The dedicated freight corridor assumes significance as the majority of India’s freight traffic relies on roadways rather than Indian Railways. According to the report, 65 per cent of the freight traffic is dependent on roadways due to poor services by the Indian Railways. A large number of passenger and freight trains have been responsible for clogging the tracks. After the dedicated corridor becomes functional, a large number of freight trains run by the Indian Railways will shift to the dedicated corridor and free up space for the passenger trains.

DFCCIL is presently working on the Eastern Dedicated Freight Corridor (EDFC) and Western Dedicated Freight Corridor (WDFC) and is expected to complete the projects by December 2021. EDFC is an 1800 kilometre corridor which will connect Ludhiana and Kolkata whereas WDFC is a 1500 km long track which will link Dadri with the JNPT port in Mumbai. The total estimated expenditure in the project is expected to be Rs 81,000 crore. The projects are being partly funded by the World Bank (EDFC) and the Japanese government investment arm JICA (WDFC).

DFCCIL has already expended a total of Rs 34,000 crore on the project in the last six years, Sachan said. He also said that owing to the critical importance of the project, the Prime Minister’s Office is also monitoring the project and is aiming to see the completion of the project in time.

We have also requested Prime Minister Narendra Modi to inaugurate the Operation Control Centre of EDFC in Prayagraj later this month, Sachan said. He further said that as soon as the work on these two corridors gets over, the corporation will start focusing on the next leg of the project which involves three more corridors namely East Coast corridor from Kharagpur to Vijaywada, South-East to West corridor from Bhusawal to Dhankuni (near Kolkata) and North-South sub-corridor from Vijaywada to Itarsi (in Madhya Pradesh).