Port connectivity and evacuation infrastructure are critical to the success of the Sagarmala programme. Realising the importance of a focused approach for improving port connectivity infrastructure, a special purpose vehicle (SPV), Indian Port Rail and Ropeway Corporation Limited (IPRCL) (erstwhile Indian Port Rail Corporation Limited), was incorporated under the administrative control of the Ministry of Shipping (MoS) in July 2015.
Structure and objective of IPRCL
IPRCL was registered under the Companies Act, 2013 with an initial authorised capital of Rs 5 billion and a paid-up capital of Rs 1 billion. It is a first-of-its-kind joint venture between the major ports and Rail Vikas Nigam Limited (RVNL). The SPV is funded by 11 major ports (except Cochin) which contribute 90 per cent of the equity, while RVNL contributes the remaining 10 per cent. The Jawaharlal Nehru Port Trust (JNPT) has the maximum equity stake of 15.3 per cent, followed by the Kolkata Port Trust, the Paradip Port Trust and the Visakhapatnam Port Trust, each with a contribution of 10.8 per cent. The other seven major ports hold the remaining 42.3 per cent.
Project progress: Key highlights
Of the projects undertaken by IPRCL, at present, construction work on 10 projects covering 82.6 km is under way. Besides, IPRCL is involved in the preparation of detailed project reports (DPRs) and feasibility reports for nine projects spanning a length of about 1,100 km.
DFC-compliant common rail yard at JNPT
With a view to enhancing hinterland connectivity, the development of a dedicated freight corridor (DFC)-compliant common rail yard was initiated at JNPT. The rail yard is being developed to handle 1,500 metre long double-stack container trains. The scope of work entails the construction of a loading area and a ballast-less track for handling two fully loaded DFC trains simultaneously.
Modification of RoB at JNPT
A project is being undertaken to increase the width of the rail overbridge (RoB) at JNPT from the existing four lanes to eight lanes. The current height of the RoB is not as per the height clearance required for DFC double-stack container trains. Post completion of the modification works, JNPT will be able to receive and handle DFC trains.
Rail connectivity to Wardha and Jalna dry ports
Rail connectivity to the Wardha and Jalna dry ports has been planned to reduce dependence on roads for the movement of cargo and, thereby, to reduce the cost of transportation. It is expected to facilitate the import and export of cargo from the hinterland.
The project has been undertaken to develop the two dry ports as inland intermodal terminals and centres for transshipment of sea cargo to inland destinations. Another objective of the project is to increase the share of cargo traffic evacuated from ports via railways.
Construction of RoBs under the Setu Bharatam programme
Of the 208 RoBs/rail underbridges identified for implementation under the Setu Bharatam programme, IPRCL has been entrusted with the responsibility of six RoBs. Bids for construction on an engineering, procurement and construction basis and appointment of the authority’s engineer have been invited for two RoBs. Meanwhile, the land acquisition process for the RoBs is in the final stages.
Rail connectivity to berth nos. 13-16 at Deendayal port
The scope of work of the project involves undertaking rail improvement works through the stone column method to improve connectivity to berth nos. 13, 14, 15 and 16 at Deendayal port. The 6 km long project is being implemented in two phases. So far, Phase I, involving an investment of Rs 735 million, has been completed. Phase II, involving construction of bridges and tracks, is in progress and is expected to cost Rs 175.4 million.
Rail connectivity from port marshalling yard to Hare Island, VOC port
The 12 km long rail connectivity project has been completed at an investment of Rs 970 million. The project is expected to facilitate faster evacuation of cargo and increase rail traffic at V.O. Chidambaranar (VOC) port.
IPRCL has also been mandated to implement multimodal transit systems across the country, including ropeways. At present, IPRCL is implementing eight ropeway projects, including the Haji Bunder-Elephanta ropeway in Mumbai, two ropeway projects in Manipur (Langolceiraoching to Marjing Ching and Sendra to Thanga, Chaoba Ching, Loktak) and one in Tamil Nadu (Kanyakumari). The ropeway proposed between Kanyakumari on the mainland and the Thiruvalluvar statue and the proposed marine bridge between the statue and Vivekananda Rock Memorial are the key projects being implemented by IPRCL. An international architectural firm has been engaged for an innovative aesthetic bridge design. Meanwhile, IPRCL is also working towards the development of urban ropeways in select cities.
In addition to the above-mentioned projects, IPRCL is in the process of preparing DPRs for several new major railway projects including the Indore-Manmand (368 km), Kandla-Jaisalmer (357 km), Salegaon-Paradip (190 track km) and Barithengarh-Ratnagiri (18 km) lines. These projects are at various stages of implementation.
The way forward
In the years ahead, IPRCL will help fast-track port connectivity projects. This, in turn, is expected to optimise the modal mix for cargo evacuation by increasing the percentage of cargo being evacuated from ports via rail. However, going forward, a multi-pronged strategy for improving rail connectivity needs to be adopted. This includes faster turnaround of rakes at ports and inland container depots, timely execution of connectivity projects, and optimisation of the existing line capacity at major ports. Further, addressing issues such as delays in shifting utilities, problems in securing site clearance, and cost escalation will go a long way in improving rail connectivity to ports.
Garima Arora (with inputs from Anoop Kumar Agrawal Managing Director, IPRCL)