The Railways have taken a leaf out of the national highways programme to fund the proposed high-speed dedicated freight corridor. Authorities are examining the option of imposing track access charges to transport goods, along the lines of toll charges used to build and maintain national highways.
The Dedicated Freight Corridor Corporation of India Limited (DFCC), a special purpose vehicle (SPV) that has been created for the project, would shortly be asking consultants to give detailed project proposals including plans for the broad structure of a highway-like toll system.
“We would ask the consultants to give us various options for revenue generation. One of the options being considered is to impose a track access charge. These would be similar to tolls imposed on national highways and would be different across categories of commodities,” V.K. Kaul, Managing Director of DFCC, told Hindustan Times.
The proposed corridor, spread across 2,700 km with an additional 5,000 km of feeder lines, will involve an estimated cost of Rs 28,000 crore with computerised control on the western and eastern routes.
Once commissioned, the corridor will reduce transit time between Delhi and Mumbai from 60 hours to 36 hours.
On the eastern side, the multi-modal high axle corridor will connect Ludhiana in Punjab to Sonnagar and Howrah in West Bengal, while the western corridor will connect the Jawaharlal Nehru Port near Mumbai to Tughlakabad and Dadri near Delhi. These would be exclusively used to run freight trains at a maximum permissible speed of 100 Kmph.
The eastern corridor would involve an estimated expenditure of Rs 11,859 crore while the western corridor would entail a cost about Rs 16,592 crore.
“The whole corridor will be having a computerised train control system,” Kaul said.
The traffic on the eastern corridor spreading 1,279 km would mainly ferry coal for the power plants in Uttar Pradesh, Delhi, Haryana, Punjab and parts of Rajasthan from the eastern coalfields. The total traffic in on the eastern corridor is projected to go up from 52 million tonnes in 2005-06 to 143 million tonnes in 2021-22.
The western corridor would involve 1,483 km of a double line diesel track from JNPT to Dadri and pass through Vadodara, Ahmedabad, Palanput, Phulera and Rewari.
It would mainly ferry containers from JNPT and Mumbai Port in Maharashtra and the ports of Pipavav, Mundra and Kandla in Gujarat destined for internal container depots located in northern India, especially at Tughlakabad and Dadri on the outskirts of Delhi.