Indian Railways targets more containerized freight traffic
New Delhi: After the eastern and western dedicated freight corridors, the government has decided to have three more such high-speed cargo transportation networks to increase its dwindling share of the freight pie.
Railway minister Suresh Prabhu said the railways would build an east-west corridor connecting Kharagpur to Mumbai; a north-south one from Delhi to Chennai and an east coast between Kharagpur and Vijayawada.
The budget proposed to put these three projects “on high priority to ensure structuring, award and implementation in a time-bound manner through innovative financing mechanisms, including PPP”.
The share of freight traffic for the railways has plummeted to 36.5 per cent from 62 per cent in 1980.
It is also losing out on the movement of specialised cargo such as imported coal and automobiles.
The dedicated freight corridors, with spurs linking them to ports and mines, are expected to ramp up the railways’ freight capacity.
At present, Indian Railways is spending around Rs 81,459 crore on two projects – an eastern corridor with a route length of about 1,856 km from Ludhiana to Dankuni, on the outskirts of Calcutta; and a western corridor comprising 1,504 km of a double-line track from Mumbai’s Jawahar Lal Nehru Port to Dadri in Uttar Pradesh.
These two projects are expected to be completed by 2019.
Auto makers praise
Auto makers today hailed railway minister Suresh Prabhu’s proposal to set up the country’s first rail-auto hub in Chennai as it would enable cost-effective transportation of cars to the port.
Prabhu today said, “To capture the automobile traffic we will soon inaugurate India’s first rail auto hub in Chennai.”
Guillaume Sicard, operations president of Nissan India, said the announcement to create a hub was a clear demonstration of the government’s commitment to the Make in India initiative.
Nissan India is one of the largest exporters of passenger cars and has reached the landmark export figure of six lakh cars recently.
Car giants, including Maruti Suzuki, Ford Motor and Renault, are gearing up to make India a hub for their exports to the emerging markets of Latin America, South Asia, Africa, among others.
Bharat chamber welcomes high priority freight corridors
Reacting to 2016-17 Railway Budget proposals, Rakesh Shah, President of Bharat Chamber of Commerce, Kolkata, said that the announcement of new high priority freight corridors between Kharagpur and Mumbai and Kharagpur and Vijaywada were welcome moves. The completion target for the East-West Metro project (for Kolkata) augurs well for West Bengal. “Haldia Port connectivity is another positive approach for West Bengal”, he said. He also commended the projected augmentation of earnings through freight and keeping the passengers fares unaltered.