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EDITORIAL ANALYSIS

Why Dedicated Freight Corridor matters — for Railways, the country?

The Editorial covers GS paper 3 [Infrastructure: Energy, Ports, Roads, Airports, Railways etc.]

Dedicated Freight Corridors - GKToday

Context

  • Prime Minister Narendra Modi inaugurated a 351-km section between Khurja and Bhaupur in Uttar Pradesh for commercial operations of the Dedicated Freight Corridor (DFC). 

  • He also dedicated to the nation a state-of-the-art Operation Control Centre in Prayagraj.

What is the Background?

  • The total 2,843-km project — billed as the largest rail infrastructure being built in independent India — has been in the making since 2006 with little movement on the ground.

  • It is finally ready to take off, albeit in phases.

What is the DFC?

 

  • The DFC consists of two arms. 

  • The section launched is part of the 1,839-km Eastern DFC that starts at Sohnewal (Ludhiana) in Punjab and ends at Dankuni in West Bengal. 

  • The other arm is the around 1,500-km Western DFC from Dadri in Uttar Pradesh to JNPT in Mumbai, touching all major ports along the way.

  • The 351-km section stretches between Khurja, the 12th stop after Sohnewal in the North, to New Bhaupur, near Kanpur.

  • Other stretches are Sohnewal to Khurja (365 km), Bhaupur to Pandit Deen Dayal Upadhyay (Mughalsarai) (400 km), then to Sonnagar in West Bengal (137 km), then to Dankuni via Gomoh in Jharkhand (538 km).

  • There is also a section under construction between Dadri and Khurja to connect the Eastern and Western arms.

What is the significance?

 

  • Around 70% of the freight trains currently running on the Indian Railway network are slated to shift to the freight corridors, leaving the paths open for more passenger trains.

  • Built at a cost of Rs 5,750 crore through a loan from World Bank (which is funding a majority of the EDFC; the WDFC is being funded by the Japan International Cooperation Agency), the new stations in this section are Bhaupur, Kanchausi, Achalda, Ekdil, Bhadan, Makhanpur, Tundla, Hathras, Daudkan and Khurja. 

  • This section passes through Kanpur Dehat, Auraiya, Etawah, Firozabad, Hathras, Aligarh and Bulandshahr districts in Uttar Pradesh.

  • Built at a cost of Rs 5,750 crore through a loan from World Bank (which is funding a majority of the EDFC; the WDFC is being funded by the Japan International Cooperation Agency), the new stations in this section are Bhaupur, Kanchausi, Achalda, Ekdil, Bhadan, Makhanpur, Tundla, Hathras, Daudkan and Khurja. 

  • This section passes through Kanpur Dehat, Auraiya, Etawah, Firozabad, Hathras, Aligarh and Bulandshahr districts in Uttar Pradesh.

  • Tracks on DFC are designed to carry heavier loads than most of Indian Railways. DFC will get track access charge from the parent Indian Railways, and also generate its own freight business.

What are the other changes?

 

  • There are certain firsts for this section. 

  • For instance, 68 existing level crossings have been eliminated to augment speed, the only major section on Indian Railways that is free from any permanent or temporary speed restrictions. 

  • This in a way sets the bar for rest of the DFC to also make stretches free from speed restrictions, or “cautions” as they are termed in Railways.

  • Freight trains usually suffer from unpredictable running times and low speeds of around 25 km per hour. 

  • But on this new section they can run at 50-60 kph.

  • This section will also catch the freight traffic originating from key centres such as Kanpur Dehat, Aurayia, Etawah, Firozabad, Hathras, Aligarh and Bulandshahr. 

  • The existing industrial areas of Aligarh, Khuja, Firozabad, Agra and Bhaupur will become major growth centres of the area, the Dedicated Freight Corridor Corporation projects in its business development plan.

  • These areas are agriculture hubs producing potato, paddy and maize.

  • New Makhanpur (Firozabad) and New Daudkhan (Aligarh) will be opened as common user terminals aimed at local farmers in sending their produce to the larger markets.


Conclusion

A 46-km link between Khurja (Eastern) and Dadri (Western) will be ready by March 2021. By December 2021, Kanpur-Khurja area will get connected to the western ports of Kandla, Mundra, and Pipava, via the 127-km Dadri-Rewari section in the Western arm, its target advanced by several months.

In the Western DFC, the section between Rewari (Haryana) and Madar (Rajasthan) has been completed. The subsequent sections are up to Palanpur in Gujarat (to be done in the next three months), then to Makarpura (by March 2022) and finally to JNPT (June 2022).


Source: Indian Express.