HYDERABAD: Indian Railways has mooted a plan for a third freight corridor in the country, linking Vijayawada in Andhra Pradesh with Kharagpur in West Bengal. The proposed corridor, if it gets a go ahead from the Union finance ministry in next budget, is likely to give an impetus to export of petroleum products, food grain and other commodities from the capital region of AP.
Comparing with other modes of transport, railways is cheaper per unit (every 10 km) for bulk commodities such as iron, coal and cement. The corridor is part of the Golden Quadrilateral project of the railways, sources said.
In his 2016-17 budget speech, Union finance minister Arun Jaitley had emphasised on the construction of three freight corridors — East West corridor between Kolkata and Mumbai, North South Corridor between Delhi and Chennai, and East Coast corridor between Kharagpur and Vijayawada.
The third corridor will run parallel to the existing alignment, and it will be designed in such a way that there will be no surface crossing or rail flyovers, the preliminary engineering-cum-traffic survey of railways has revealed.
The survey also stated that the freight traffic projections in the three upcoming corridors will go up to a level of approximately 1,300 million tonnes by 2026-27.
According to sources, the Dedicated Freight Corporation of India Ltd (DFCCIL), run by the Union ministry of railways, has sent a proposal to the railway board to take up the construction of the third corridor, which will be spread over 1,114 km. The primary estimate made by the corporation and mentioned by former minister of state for railways, Manoj Sinha, in Parliament in 2016 had pegged the cost of the project to Rs 56,749 crore.
AK Sachan, managing director of the corporation, said the railways will put the project before the Union finance ministry for its inclusion in the budget 2018-19. However, the cost of the project will be borne equally by the railways and loans from multilateral agencies, including Japanese funding agency JICA or World Bank.
“It seems the railway authorities want to shape up the proposed third corridor because Vijayawada-Kharagpur section has been one of the busiest routes on East Coast,” railway sources said. Meanwhile, the railways is now constructing two other corridors for Rs 81,000 crore, while the 1,856-km East-West corridor will link Ludhiana with Dankuni in West Bengal, the Western Freight corridor will be spread over nearly 1,504 km from Dadri to Jawaharlal Nehru port.
On being asked about the pace of the project, railway sources said that DFFCIL is going to rope in around 1,500 technical staff this year. The corporation has estimated that their permanent staff strength will reach 6,200 by 2020 when the upcoming corridors might be thrown open for use, provided that things go according to plans.