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Indian Railways Freight Corridors – Transforming Transportation

Lifeline of the Nation is increasing its freight transportation capacity by constructing the golden quadrilateral. It is the Indian railways’ dedicated freight corridor and one of the most extended rail infrastructure projects after independence. This golden quadrilateral of over 10,000 km will connect the 4 major cities of India; Mumbai, Delhi, Howrah and Chennai.


Railway Ministry formed the Dedicated Freight Corridor Corporation of India Limited (DFCCIL) in 2006. It is responsible for planning, building and operating the ‘Dedicated Freight Corridor’ (DFC) to smoothen the transportation of goods by freight trains to the major Indian cities. The Golden Quadrilateral project follows the Public-Private Partnership (PPP) model.



Dedicated Freight Corridor – Indian Railway’s Golden Quadrilateral Project 


Indian Railways priorities running passenger trains, resulting in long waiting hours for freight trains. To eliminate this problem, railways are working on constructing new rail routes for carriage trains. This golden project will set up new stations and logistic parks for freight trains. It will help bypass the traffic of current railway stations to the new ones. In addition, the capacity of the trains will be increased by adding more wagons. 


As a result, railways will be able to run more passenger trains which will help them handle the passengers’ rush more efficiently. Some dedicated freight corridor projects are currently under construction and partially operated, and some have been announced or proposed.  


Here we describe the freight corridors of Indian Railways separately.



Eastern Dedicated Freight Corridor


Eastern Dedicated Freight Corridor (EDFC) is partially operational on a 658 km track. EDFC covers a distance of 1873 km, including 1426 km of electrified double track and 447 km of single track. The Corridor begins from Ludhiana, Punjab and passes through Ambala, Saharanpur, Meerut, Khurja, Tundla, Kanpur, Prayag Raj, Mughalsarai, Gomoh, Andal and finally terminates at Dankuni, West Bengal. The route caters to 6 states, including Punjab, Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh, Delhi, Haryana, and West Bengal. EDFC will mainly transport coal, finished steel, limestone, cement and food to the eastern states of India. It will use single-stack containers driven by electric locomotives at a maximum speed of 100km/h. 



East-West Dedicated Freight Corridor


East-West Dedicated Freight Corridor (East-West DFC) is proposed in the annual budget 2016-17 to connect India’s eastern and western parts diagonally. It will be constructed between Dankuni and Palgarh, the two stations in West Bengal & Maharashtra, respectively. The East-West DFC will cover over 1865 Km and bring a paradigm shift in the movements of goods in Odisha, West Bengal, Jharkhand and Chhattisgarh. The project has received approval from Indian Railways. 



East Coast Dedicated Freight Corridor


East Coast Dedicated Freight Corridor (East-Coast DFC) has also received approval for DPR. It was announced with East-West DFC and North-South DFC during the budget speech 2016-17. The East Coast corridor will be 1,115 km from Hijli Station, Kharagpur, pass via Rupsa, Jakhapura, Haridaspur, Rajatgarh, Khurda Road, Naupada, Viza Nagar, Visakhapatnam and end near north Vijayawada Station of the Indian Railways.



Western Dedicated Freight Corridor 


Western Dedicated Freight Corridor (WDFC) is 1504 km in length, but it is partially operational with a 630 km track. The Corridor starts from Jawaharlal Nehru Port, Mumbai, passes via Vadodara, Ahmedabad, Palanpur, Phulera, Rewari, and ends at Dadri, Uttar Pradesh, where it connects to Eastern Dedicated Freight Corridor. The Corridor covers 5 major Indian States, including Maharashtra, Rajasthan, Gujrat, Haryana, and UP. The route will transport cement, iron, steel, fertilisers, food grains, salt, and coal at high speed with double capacity. WDFC will use double double-stack containers driven by diesel locomotives on this Corridor. 



North-South Dedicated Freight Corridor  


North-South Dedicated Freight Corridor (North-South DFC) is announced to connect Delhi and Chennai diagonally in the golden quadrilateral. It will cover over 975 Km distance, passing through Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, and Jharkhand. The DFC will follow the Vijayawada – Nagpur – Itarsi route. The Ministry of Railways has approved preparing a Detailed Project Report (DPR) for North-South DFC. This Corridor will ensure the hassle-free mobility of freight trains from Northern states to Southern states. 



Southern Dedicated Freight Corridor


Southern Dedicated Freight Corridor (SDFC) is a proposed rail corridor, however not yet approved between Maidgaon, Goa to Chennai, i.e., south to south. It will be 892 km in length, completing the golden quadrilateral. Currently, SDFC is in the planning stage. 



What Changes Dedicated Freight Corridor Brings to Railway System? 


  • With DFC, the average speed of freight trains increases to 70km/hr from the existing 25 km/h. 
  • Increase in the length of freight trains up to 1.5km by adding more boogies, and WDFC will be allowed to run double-stack container trains.
  • The wagon width will be 3600 mm from the existing 3200 mm, and the height will be 5.1m in a single stack container and 7.1m in a double-stack container. Currently, Indian Railways freight trains’ height is 4.265m only. 
  • A heavy haul train with an overall 13000-ton load will run on the track. Generally, freight trains with 5400 tons are running currently.
  • The development of the Train Protection and Warning System will be based on the principles of the European Control System, level 1. It will solve the signal passing in danger. Besides, the DFC signalling system will be automatic with 2 km spacing.
  • Trains will be monitored from a centralised location; Prayag Raj, Uttar Pradesh. It will be the world’s second-largest train operations control centre after Singhai, China.
  • Freight trains will use Mobile train radio for communication.
  • DFC will ensure an eco-friendly transport system. According to DFCCIL, in the first 30 years, there will be a reduction of over 450 million tons of CO2. It will help to increase greenhouse gases in the environment.


How Many Freight Corridors Are There in India?


There are six freight corridors in India. Two corridor passages, i.e., Western and Eastern DFC, are under construction and partially operated. However, the East Coast, East-West, and North-South DFC have been approved for preparing a Detailed Project Report. Southern DFC is yet to be announced. 


How Much Is a Dedicated Corridor Completed?


658 km of EDFC; Khurja to Bhaupur stretch and 630 km of WDFC; Rewari to Madar stretch has been completed, and trains are already operating in these stretches. It is expected that by June 2022, EDFC and WDFC will be completed.


What Are the Benefits of a Dedicated Freight Corridor?


The Dedicated Freight Corridor will bring revolution to India’s transport system. The vast railway project will generate employment and bring prosperity to the land from where it crosses. It will be beneficial for the economy of India. E-commerce sites like Flipkart and Amazon will be able to courier cargo for delivery by rail. Besides, it will open up the door for automobile companies.


With the new rail line, freight trains will move on time. DFCCIL network will handle over 70% of freight train traffic. Decongestion of Indian railways will also help in the hassle-free operation of passenger trains. Also, IRCTC will be able to launch new trains on the existing routes. 


With more passenger trains, travellers can book train tickets easily. If there are no or fewer cargo trains, Passenger trains will also not get delayed by a bypass freight train. 


With the constantly updating Indian Railways’ freight corridors, apps and portals like RailMitra will be more flexible for train travellers. 


RailMitra is an AI-enabled rail app or website that aids rail passengers in checking train schedules, live train status, PNR status, ordering food on train, and keeping updated with rail news. Additionally, Business persons or companies can use it to check the status of fright trains between stations or corridors.


Keep up with RailMitra for updates on Indian Railways Dedicated fright corridors. You can also plan rail journeys and get updates on upcoming rail news.  

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