NEW DELHI: The Ateli (near Rewari in Uttar Pradesh) – Phulera (near Jaipur in Rajasthan) link of western rail freight corridor, being implemented by L&T-Sojitz consortium, is expected to start commercial operations by March 2018. Freight corridor once declared to be commercially fit will smoothen container traffic to western ports.
The corridor of about 190 km of routes and 380 km of tracks, is expected to smoothen container traffic movement to ports on the west coast, D.S.Rana, Director-Infrastructure, Dedicated Freight Corridor Corporation Ltd (DFCCIL), told on the sidelines of a conference.
This will be the second stretch of rail link to be ready for commercial operations. As of now, a 56-km stretch of New Durgauti-Sasaram section of the eastern freight corridor is ready, on which a commercial goods train was launched on March 30.
Adesh Sharma, Managing Director, DFCCIL, said that they are working out a policy with the Indian Railways regarding clearance from Commissioner of Railway Safety (CRS).
Since freight corridors won’t carry people, DFCCIL and Railways had thought that CRS clearance will not be required. However, there are junctions where there would be interfaces with passenger tracks. So, the policy is being worked out about having CRS clearances in specific areas.
Meanwhile disputes on acquisition of small patches of land is also affecting the pace of project implementation, some of which has already been awarded.
Of the 10,600 hectare of land required to implement the Eastern and Western dedicated rail freight corridor, 10,150 hectare has been fully acquired. Meanwhile, there are around 140-180 hectare of land yet to be acquired in each Uttar Pradesh and Maharashtra. Some of these disputed areas are a part of projects already awarded by Dedicated Freight Corridor Corporation of India Limited – some portion to Tata Power– Aldesa consortium, which affect the pace of project implementation as it requires shifting of the new track construction (NTC) machines used to lay tracks.
These new track machines, which can lay railway tracks at a speed of 1.5 km of tracks a day, require contiguous land on which they can lay rail tracks and sleepers. So, even if there is a small unavailability of land leading to discontinuation of tracks, the machine needs to dismantled, shifted on road to the next point of track laying route and re-assembled to start laying of track.
“The process of dismantling and reassembling takes about 10 days each, thus leading to loss of time,” Adesh Sharma said. He, however, added that the project cost has not escalated as the material cost has been subdued last year. He expects that the a large share of land acquisition related disputes in UP will be handled by June this year and that of Maharashtra by August 2018.
DFCCIL is going the automation route for its construction, and operation which will lower the cost of operation. At the construction level, its contractors are using new track machines, which can lay long rails and sleepers much faster than humans. On the operations end, DFCCIL, which is owned by Indian Railways, will have 40 per cent lower costs than that of the Indian Railways due to using automated processes which will drop the number of people required on the project.
While the costs of freight corridor are sharply lower than the Railways, Indian Railways will decide the tariffs for the use of freight corridor.