What is a Dedicated Freight Corridor (DFC)? Why does it matter for Railways and the country?
In December 2020, Prime Minister Narendra Modi inaugurated a 351-km division of the Dedicated Freight Corridor between Khurja and Bhaupur in Uttar Pradesh for commercial operations of the Dedicated Freight Corridor (DFC). A state-of-the-art Operation Control Centre in Prayagraj was also dedicated to the nation by Prime Minister.
The total 2,843-km project is considered as the largest rail infrastructure project being built in independent India. It has been under construction since 2006 with very little progress on the ground. But now, it is finally ready to take off, and the project will be completed in phases.
What is the Dedicated Freight Corridor (DFC)?
Dedicated Freight Corridor is a high-capacity and high-speed railway corridor, meant exclusively for freight transportation, or in simpler words, goods, and commodities.
DFC involves the state of the art technology and seamless integration of better infrastructure.
DFC consists of two arms:
Eastern Dedicated Freight Corridor (EDFC)
- The section launched in December 2020, which starts at Sahnewal (Ludhiana) in Punjab and ends at Dankuni in West Bengal, is part of the 1,839-km Eastern DFC.
- The Eastern Dedicated Freight Corridor route has thermal power plants, industrial cities, and coal mines. Feeder routes are also being developed for these.
- The EDFC route covers Punjab, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Jharkhand, and West Bengal.
- The World Bank funds a majority of the EDFC.
- The new 351-km-long ‘Bhaupur-Khurja section’ will double the freight trains’ speed from 25 kmph to 75 kmph and decongest the existing Kanpur-Delhi mainline.
Western Dedicated Freight Corridor (WDFC)
- The other arm Western Dedicated Freight Corridor, starting from Dadri in Uttar Pradesh to Jawaharlal Nehru Port Trust in Mumbai, is around 1,500-km and touches all major ports along the way.
- Western Dedicated Freight Corridor covers states like Haryana, Rajasthan, Gujarat, Maharashtra, and Uttar Pradesh.
- Japan International Cooperation Agency is funding the major portion of this corridor.
- Currently under construction between Dadri and Khurja is the connecting link for Eastern and Western Arm.
- The industrial corridor of Delhi-Mumbai and Amritsar-Kolkata are also under development around both these Dedicated Freight Corridors.
Dedicated Freight Corridor Corporation of India Limited (DFCCIL)
The Dedicated Freight Corridor Corporation of India Limited (DFCCIL) is incorporated under the Government of India’s Ministry of Railways. It is a Public Sector Undertaking (PSU). It is tasked to look after and undertake the planning, development, deployment of monetary resources, building, upkeep, and operation of the “Dedicated Freight Corridors” (DFC). In 2006, under the Companies Act 1956, the Dedicated Freight Corridor Corporation of India Limited (DFCCIL) was registered as a company.
Under the Ministry of Railways, DFCCIL is a special-purpose entity. It is assigned with the planning and completion of 3,306 km of Dedicated Freight Corridors.
Dedicated Freight Corridor Corporation of India Limited is headquartered in New Delhi.
What trains will use the new section?
From now on, freight trains operating on this section will help decongest the existing Kanpur-Delhi main line of Indian Railways, which currently handles trains at 150% of its line capacity. This section currently operates over 50 passenger trains and around 60 goods trains struggling for paths daily.
From the northern region, food grain and fertilizers are transported to the eastern and northeast regions. Coal, iron ore, jute, and petroleum products are transported to North and West from East and Northeast.
The development of DFC will help in reforming the transportation sector. It will create more capacity on trunk routes of Indian Railways as goods trains shall be able to run freely on DFC without any restrictions imposed by passenger trains’ movement.
Leaving the tracks open for more passenger trains, around 70% of the freight trains currently running on the Indian Railway network are designated to shift to the freight corridors.
Tracks on DFC are designed to carry hefty loads than most of the railway lines in Indian Railways. DFC will acquire track access charges from the parent Indian Railways and also generate its own freight business.
The construction of this new section will help in increasing more passenger trains on the Indian Railways mainline, and in turn, those trains can achieve better punctuality.
- Provide ease of doing business.
- Reduced Logistics costs.
- Faster movement of goods.
- Environment friendly.
- Higher energy efficiency.
- It helps in generating more employment.
Conversion to high-speed corridors
Indian Railways is planning to convert 10,000 km of passenger and freight trunk routes into high-speed rail corridors over ten years, with a total investment of ₹20 lakh crore (US$320 billion in 2019) and an annual investment of ₹2 lakh crore (US$32 billion in 2019) from 2017–2027. Where half of the money invested is planned to be spent on converting existing routes into high-speed corridors by leap-frogging the technology, and the rest of the money will be used to develop the stations and electronic signaling at the cost of ₹60 thousand crores (US$8.4 billion in 2020) which will enable automated running of trains at a frequency of 5–6 minutes.
Freight corridors of 3,300 km length will also be completed, freeing the dual-use high demand trunk routes for running more high-speed passenger trains.