Financial closure for both the projects has been done and we’ll raise the money within a month, says CMD
Mumbai: Konkan Railway Corporation Ltd (KRCL), is set to enhance line capacity to handle more trains as it starts track-doubling work on its 740-km route after this year’s monsoon. The rail PSUalso plans to electrify its entire network in three years, says its Chairman and Managing Director Sanjay Gupta. Excerpts from an interview with Media:
What is the present status of doubling and electrification on the Konkan Railway?
We did Bhoomi Puja about a year ago. The tenders for doubling — patch doubling between Roha and Veer (46 km) — has been awarded in June. However, work will commence after the monsoon.
For electrification, paper work is on. We will be publishing the tender very soon. We hope to start work post monsoon. Financial closure for both the projects has been done. We will be raising money within a month. This will be financed by 30 per cent equity contribution from us and the remaining would be debt, over the next 4-5 years.
What is the estimated cost?
The estimated cost is about Rs.300 crore for the patch doubling, cost of electrification would be between Rs.700 crore and Rs.800 crore for complete electrification of the 740-km length.
Plus, there would be some interest cost during construction that would get added to the project cost. We hope to complete both these things in three years time.
How are you trying to maximise revenue both passenger and freight?
A majority of the traffic originates in the Indian Railways system and either terminates on KRCL or passes through us. We cannot have a tariff system which is separate from that of the Indian Railways. We are like any other zonal railway from that point of view and distributed accordingly.
Besides, the three major ports situated near KRCL — JNPT, Goa port and Mangalore port — serve a hinterland which does not require them to use KRCL. Once other ports such as Jaigarh (Maharashtra) and Karwar (Karnataka) are developed fully, they will feed our railways system and we can get cargo.
What about running more passenger services?
At present, we are close to saturation. Passenger services now require a different focus — Chiplun- Khed has a different requirement, and so does Sawantwadi. Goa is heavy on week-end traffic and nowadays there is no off-season there. All our trains towards Goa — Konkan Kanya, Mandovi, JanShatabdi, Rajya Rani — are full, barring the AC double-decker.
In Jan Shatabdi and Rajya Rani, there is scope for increasing the length of the train, but they originate from Dadar a station which cannot handle rakes longer than 18 coaches, hence there is a limitation
May be in two years once the Panvel terminus comes in, additional trains for Pune/Konkan side would start from there. There is demand for day trains from Chiplun/Ratnagiri.
But we need a maintenance slot at the Mumbai end which is not working out. Once Nagothane- Roha on Central Railway and our section gets doubled, a few diesel multiple unit (DMU) services that are already running between Diva and Roha on Central Railway might be extended.
What are your hiring plans?
We are hiring essential category staff such as loco pilots, guards, TTEs and station masters regularly. KRCL is a young organisation. All of us were recruited together and we have virtually no retirement as of now. We also have plans to spread out our future recruitment in a manner so that we are not adversely affected by mass retirements.
What is your debt position as on date?
It was about Rs.1,500 crore in FY16.We will be picking up more debt for doubling and electrification of our network.
Our operating ratio as per the definition of the Indian Railways is 80 per cent (KRCL spends 80 paise to earn one rupee) — excellent as per IR standards. Now in FY17, we also have the impact of the Seventh Pay Commission.
What about revenue from projects outside Konkan Railway?
The J&K project has been doing really well. We made a topline of Rs.550 crore from the construction of the Kashmir Railway project last year. This year, we will touch a much higher figure and this will last for another 2-3 years. We also have two NTPC projects at Kudgi between Bijapur and Gadag (about Rs.400 crore) and at Gadarwara between Itarsi and Jabalpur (Rs.400-500 crore).
IR has enough shelf of projects and anybody and everybody with experience of rail projects will be occupied for the next many years, especially North East, doubling and new lines as the Government is investing heavily.