Speaking with Janaki Krishnamoorthi, RK Gupta, Managing Director, Dedicated Freight Corridor Corporation of India Ltd provides an update on the Dedicated Freight Corridor project.
What is the current status of DFC with regard to land acquisition, statutory clearances, funding, procurement etc?
Land acquisition: The progress on land acquisition is approximately 95 per cent excluding Sonnagar-Dankuni section and above 88 per cent on an overall basis. We have acquired a total of 9,408 hectare so far.
Statutory clearances: DFCCIL has obtained almost all the wildlife and environmental clearances for the project both in the Eastern and Western DFC. Proposals for obtaining forest clearances in certain areas have also been submitted and clearances are expected soon.
Funding: JICA is funding the entire construction cost for the Western DFC Project and loan agreements have been signed with them. In Eastern DFC, major portion starting from Ludhiana to Mughalsarai is funded by World Bank, while government funding is provided for Mughalsarai-Sonnagar section. Sonnagar-Dankuni section on Eastern DFC is planned through PPP route. Procurement: We have awarded civil contracts for over 1,100 route km and for balance tenders have been invited. They are scheduled for awarding in this financial year. Contracts for system works are also planned accordingly.
What progress has been made in the industrial zone development along the corridor?
Industrial zone development along the DFC has been entrusted to Delhi Mumbai Industrial Corridor Development Corporation (DMICDC) on Western DFC. Identification of industrial zones and development is handled by DMICDC only. On Eastern DFC, Amritsar-Kolkata Industrial Corridor has been proposed and a high level committee has been set up to explore the possibilities of developing industrial zones in UP, Punjab, Bihar, Bengal along the DFC network.
What opportunities has DFC opened up for the developers/contractors and technology providers?
DFC project will provide an excellent opportunity to various railway equipment and service providers to participate as consultants, civil works contractors, PMC contractors, system designers, technology providers, etc. It will also create strong opportunities for development of various industrial sectors like steel, cement, copper, aluminium, construction machinery, electrical equipment manufacturers, power, railway signalling and telecom sector.
How many private players are involved in the project and under what mode of contract? Who are the major players as on today?
All contracts on DFC are awarded on Design-Build Lump-Sum basis. So far, we have awarded various civil contracts, both in the Eastern and Western DFC and one system (Electrical and S&T) contract in Eastern DFC. Remaining civil and system contracts are in various stages of procurement and are scheduled for award in this financial year. The major contractors working with DFC include Tata-Aldsea JV, Sojitz-L&T JV, BSC – CNC JV, Ferrovia Transrail, L&T, and ATEPL – MGCPL JV. There are some other contractors as well including a host of consultants (See Table).
What are the technological innovations envisaged in this project?
DFCC will encourage use of latest technological innovations in the area of track, electrification, signalling and train operations. Items wherein new technologies shall be permitted have been identified. In civil engineering track works bearings for bridge girders, switch expansion joints, single shot crucible welding, pre-stressed concrete sleepers, movable nose crossings, fittings, fastenings and formation have been identified as the areas where new technologies will be permitted.
In case of electrical the proposed areas are improved OHE design for 2×25 KV system including high power density up to 1MVA per km, superior composition and profile of contact and catenary wire with improved regulation of tension, modular OHE fittings, traction transformers with latest design and state of the art protection and sub-system monitoring, TCP/IP based SCADA system, energy metering per IEC 62056 protocol and advanced numerical relays compatible with IEC 61850 substation automation protocol. In signalling, electronic interlocking with interface for local operation, automatic block signal and CTC working, AFTCs with direct interface to interlocking and diagnostic system, multi section and single section digital axle counter, on board train protection system, SDH based OFC network and GSM-R are the new technologies proposed to be adopted.
What are the major challenges in the execution of this project?
Despite best efforts to avoid important wild life areas and forest, the DFC alignment is passing through some forest areas. Therefore, as per law of the land, we were bound to seek environment and forest clearances for such areas, most of which are in place now.
Projects of such large sizes have large gestation period with the investment of very large amount of funds. Therefore, funding of such projects always requires backing from the government or large financial institutions. Expediting the project approval and clearances during execution is critical for creating a conducive environment and building up the confidence for the project's promoters.