Bansal woos private players for rail projects

Currently, the share of railways in goods transportation is 36 percent whereas in the USA and China the share is 48 percent 47 percent respectively.

New Delhi: Highlighting tremendous scope for private investments in rail projects, Railway Minister Pawan Kumar Bansal on Thursday invited private companies to participate in such ventures including the Dedicated Freight Corridor (DFC).

Advocating the need to de-clog the road network in the country, the Union Minister insisted transporting bulk goods through rail instead of roadways as it would be cost effective and environment friendly.

"The 570 km long corridor from Sonnagar to Dankuni in the Eastern DFC will be executed through PPP route," Bansal said at a conference here.

The Eastern and Western corridors of DFC are being constructed covering a length of 3,328 km route for exclusive freight movement in the country.

Giving the timeline, Bansal said, "the DFC project has to be completed by 2018 which is an uphill task. There is a tangible progress as 87 percent land has been acquired. It would cost about Rs 95,000 crore including land acquisition cost."

Highlighting the importance of the DFC, he said, "we need DFC as it is for the growth of our economy. In order to meet the growth we need to encourage private participation."

Currently, the share of railways in goods transportation is 36 percent whereas in the USA and China the share is 48 percent 47 percent respectively.

Comparing with the road carriers, Bansal said "one freight with 59 wagons and one electric engine of 5,000 Horsepower to 6,000 Horsepower would carry 4,600 tons while 400 trucks of each of having 150 Horsepower carrying 10 tons are required to carry the same load."

Bansal said the movement of goods on rail is six to 10 times more efficient as compared to its impact on environment, long queues at toll plazas, the time factor and the additional cost involved on roads.

Bansal said currently 60 percent of goods transportation on rail is confined to 16 percent of rail network. "Our rail network is over-saturated and passenger trains get preferred over freight. That is why freight trains are parked on sidings which cause delay."

While Delhi-Kolkata Eastern Corridor is being financed by JICA assistance, the Delhi-Mumbai Western Corridor is part financed by the World Bank.

Referring to the long list of rail projects including new line, doubling, gauge conversion and electrification, the Railway Minister said the requirement is about Rs 1.50 lakh crores to complete these projects.

"So we have to encourage PPP to meet the specific needs and for this we have finalised five different participative models," Bansal said adding "the PPP models are encouraged for first and last mile connectivity."

The Railway Minister also sought private investment for station redevelopment, Mumbai-Ahmedabad high speed corridor and elevated rail corridor between Churchgate and Virar.

"Private players have shown interest in the 63 km long elevated Churchgate-Virar corridor which is about Rs 21,000 crore. Railways have decided to build 534 km long high speed corridor between Mumbai and Ahmedabad," he added.