NEW DELHI: While the construction of two dedicated freight corridors (DFCs) — Eastern and Western — seems to be on track, the other four projects are running way behind schedule and could even be abandoned. Indian Railways is exploring options other than DFCs, like high-speed passenger corridors and capacity augmentation of existing lines, to tackle the most niggling issue of congestion on tracks, especially on the Golden Quadrilateral.
According to two Railway Ministry officials, there is an intense debate within the Ministry on prioritising one of the alternatives. And it seems DFCs are losing the argument.
“The question of taking up future DFCs came up with the NITI Aayog also in the loop. A view has emerged that if DFCs are going to take seven-eight years for completion, what would happen to the congestion in the existing lines? So it would be a much better option to go for a third line in certain sections, augmentation of some or quadrupling, which can be done in three-four years,” said one of the officials.
Another official said that though the idea of the other four DFCs has not been scrapped yet, other solutions are being examined and a view has to be taken by the railways. Apart from the Eastern DFC (Ludhiana-Dankuni; 1,856 km) and Western DFC (Dadri-Jawaharlal Nehru Port, 1,504 km), the railways had announced plans for an East-West DFC (Kolkata-Mumbai; 2,330 km), North-South DFC (Delhi-Chennai; 2,343 km), East Coast DFC (Kharagpur-Vijaywada; 1,100 km) and the Southern DFC (Chennai-Goa; 899 km). These lines cover the Golden Quadrilateral network connecting the four metro cities, which at present is utilised over 100%.