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Exclusive | Govt to sell train timings to private players as part of DFC asset monetisation

The Indian Railways would come out with a detailed timetable for trains and the available routes will be sold to private players.

February 23, 2021 / 03:05 PM IST
Finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman had announced in her Budget speech this year that the government was looking at monetising Eastern DFC (EDFC) and Western DFC (WDFC) assets.

Finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman had announced in her Budget speech this year that the government was looking at monetising Eastern DFC (EDFC) and Western DFC (WDFC) assets.

The Indian Railways is planning to come out with a new asset monetisation model for dedicated freight corridors (DFCs), wherein train timings will be allotted to private parties through a bidding process.

Finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman had announced in her Budget speech this year that the government was looking at monetising Eastern DFC (EDFC) and Western DFC (WDFC) assets after the projects were commissioned. At present, the initial asset monetisation plans also include leasing out the tracks to private players to operate trains and allowing telecom players to use DFCs' 2,800-km optic fibre network.

The Indian Railways is mulling monetisation of almost all the available assets of DFCs. An official source said the Railways would come out with a detailed chart of the timetable for trains and the paths available in that particular chart will be sold to private players.

“It will be almost an aviation model followed globally. Here, the company will be having an assurance on the timing of the train and a cleared track during that time,” he said. In European airports, like Heathrow, slot allocation for aviation players is done through an aggressive bidding process.

Regarding the usage of optic fibre network along the tracks, the Dedicated Freight Corridor Corporation (DFCCIL) has already signed a memorandum of understanding with Railtel.

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DFCCIL Managing Director Ravindra Kumar Jain had told Moneycontrol last week that the company is looking to complete both EDFC and WDFC by June 2022.

DFCCIL has already acquired almost 99 percent of the land required for the project. While the EDFC will cover an 1,856-km stretch from Ludhiana to Dankuni, the WDFC will be from Dadri to Jawaharlal Nehru Port Trust, covering 1,504 km.

Both the DFCs are expected to cost around Rs 81,459 crore. The World Bank is partly funding the EDFC through a loan of Rs 13,625 crore out of the estimated cost of Rs 30,358 crore.

On the other hand, WDFC is being funded through the aid of Rs 38,722 crore from the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), out of the total project cost of Rs 51,101 crore. The remaining cost of both the DFCs is being funded through budgetary support from the government.

Though conceptualised during the mid of the last decade, work on the DFCs has gathered momentum since the Narendra Modi government took charge in 2014. As per estimates, almost Rs 65,000 crore of the total expenditure of Rs 70,000 crore so far came between 2009-14.

The Union Budget had also proposed three new DFCs - East-Coast Corridor, East-West Sub Corridor and North-South Corridor – that may see investments of around Rs 2.17 lakh crore.
Shine Jacob

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