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by Rocky Paul, Jan 2, 2021, 9:50:59 AM | 3 minutes |

Why it matters to have a Dedicated Freight Corridor for Railways and the country?

On Tuesday, Prime Minister Narendra Modi inaugurated a 351-km segment between Khurja and Bhaupur in Uttar Pradesh for Dedicated Freight Corridor (DFC) commercial operations. He also devoted a state-of-the-art Operation Control Centre in Prayagraj to the region. Since 2006, with little movement on the ground, the total 2,843-km project, recorded as the largest rail infrastructure being constructed in independent India, has been in the making. It is finally able, but in stages, to take off.

What's the DFC?
The DFC is made of two arms. The segment that was launched on Tuesday is part of the 1,839-km Eastern DFC that begins in Punjab at Sohnewal (Ludhiana) and ends in West Bengal at Dankuni. The other arm, from Dadri in Uttar Pradesh to JNPT in Mumbai, is the approximately 1,500-km Western DFC, affecting all major ports along the way.

The 351-km section stretches between Khurja, the 12th stop after Sohnewal in the North, to New Bhaupur, near Kanpur. Other stretches are Sohnewal to Khurja (365 km), Bhaupur to Pandit Deen Dayal Upadhyay (Mughalsarai) (400 km), then to Sonnagar in West Bengal (137 km), then to Dankuni via Gomoh in Jharkhand (538 km).

Why is it important?
Approximately 70 percent of the freight trains currently operating on the Indian Railway Network are scheduled to switch to freight corridors, leaving more passenger trains available for routes.

The new stations in this section are Bhaupur, Kanchausi, Achalda, Ekdil, Bhadan, Makhanpur, Tundla, Hathras, Daudkan, and Khurja, constructed at a cost of Rs 5,750 crore through a loan from the World Bank (which finances the majority of the EDFC; the WDFC is funded by the Japan International Cooperation Agency). In Uttar Pradesh, this segment goes through Kanpur Dehat, Auraiya, Etawah, Firozabad, Hathras, Aligarh, and Bulandshahr districts.

This is like creating a whole railway network, independent of the Indian Railways, from scratch. The installations are all new. Even the stations, and that's why 'New' is prefixed with the names of most of its stations, such as New Bhaupur, New Khurja, etc. DFC tracks are meant to handle heavier loads than most Indian railways. DFC will earn the parent Indian Railways track access fee and create its own freight company as well.

Which trains can the new section use?
From now on, freight trains running on this section would help decongest the new Indian Railways mainline from Kanpur-Delhi, which currently handles trains at 150 percent of its line size. Currently, this section has over 50 passenger trains and about 60 goods trains jostling daily for routes. The new section ensures that more passenger trains can be poured into the Indian Railway mainline and those trains can, in turn, achieve better punctuality.

The northern region transports food grains and fertilizers to the eastern and northeastern areas. Coal, iron ore, jute, and petroleum products are shipped to the North and West from the East and Northeast.

Freight traffic originating from main centers such as Kanpur Dehat, Aurayia, Etawah, Firozabad, Hathras, Aligarh, and Bulandshahr will also be covered in this segment.  In its business development plan, the existing industrial areas of Aligarh, Khuja, Firozabad, Agra, and Bhaupur, the Dedicated Freight Corridor Corporation projects, will become major growth centers in the area. These areas are agriculture hubs producing potato, paddy, and maize.

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