Making Progress: Update on DFCCIL and NCRTC projects

Update on DFCCIL and NCRTC projects

Indian Railways (IR) is taking several measures to improve its infrastructure and qual­ity of services, including electrification, up­gra­dation of existing lines with advanced technologies, and development of a high speed rail network and rapid rail systems, among others. De­di­cated Freight Corridor Corporation of India Li­mi­ted (DFCCIL) and the National Capital Regi­on Transport Corporation (NCRTC) are playing vital roles in this transformation.

Key features of DFCs

Dedicated freight corridors (DFCs) are game changers for transport logistics. Some of the ma­jor advantages of DFCs include decongestion of the Delhi-Mumbai and Delhi-Kolkata railway routes, an increased modal share for rail in the freight segment, reduction in logist­i­cs cost, and reduction in rolling stock require­me­nts. All DFC operations are planned to be conducted through electric locomotives, making them environmentally friendly and helping with energy efficiency. As per a study by

DFCCIL, it is estimated that the DFCs will eliminate over 450 million tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions over a period of 30 years.

The total project length of the eastern DFC (EDFC) is 1,337 km. As of August 2022, the EDFC has achieved financial progress of 86 per cent. The Khurja-Bhaupur (351 km), Roo­ma-Sujatpur (130 km) and DDU-Sonnagar (137 km) sections have been commissioned. Se­ven new sections are coming up: Chheoki-Chunar (110 km), Bhaupur-Rooma (50 km), Shuja­tpur-Chheoki (73 km), Chunar-DDU (39 km), Khurja-Dadri (46 km), Khurja-Pilkhani (222 km) and Pilkhani-Sahnewal (179 km). All se­­c­tions of the EDFC are targeted to be commissioned by September 2023 at the latest.

At the same time, the western DFC (WDFC), with a total length of 1,506 km, has achieved financial progress of 83 per cent as of August 2022. The commissioned packages under the WDFC are Rewari-Madar (306 km), Madar-Pa­lan­pur (353 km) and Palanpur-Mahe­sana (62 km), and the upcoming packages are Mahesa­na-Sanand (93 km), Sanand-Makar­pura (147.5 km), Makarpura-Sachin (135 km), Sachin-Vai­tarna (186 km), Vaitarna-JNPT Mum­bai (109 km) and Dadri-Rewari (127 km). The­­se packages are targeted to be commissioned by Dec­em­ber 2024 at the latest.

Opportunities for PPP under DFCCIL

One of the biggest opportunities for public-private partnership (PPP) under DFCCIL is the EDFC’s flagship project, Sonnagar-Gomoh-Dankuni (538 km). This project will be offered on a design-build-finance-operate-maintain-transfer basis for a concession period of 35 years. The total cost of the project is expec­ted to be around Rs 100 billion. Of this, the cost expected to be borne by the concessionaire is around Rs 55 billion and the rest will be borne by DFCCIL. The project has the approval of the PPP committee and is currently awaiting the cabinet’s decision.


According to a recent United Nations report, Delhi is expected to be the most populated city in the world by 2030. Due to the congestion and lack of public transport in the National Capital Region (NCR), the decision was made to construct a rapid rail transit system (RRTS) there. In March 2019, the Government of India sanctioned the Delhi-Ghaziabad-Meerut RRTS project, and work started in June 2019. Phase I of the project prioritised three RRTS corridors: Delhi-Meerut (82.15 km), Delhi-Panipat (103 km) and Delhi-Alwar (164 km). While the Delhi-Meerut RRTS corridor is under construction and expected to be completed by 2025, the Delhi-Alwar and Delhi-Panipat corridors are in the detailed project report (DPR) preparation, and planning stages respectively.

Status of Delhi-Meerut RRTS

The 82.15 km long Delhi-Meerut RRTS corridor consists of an elevated section of 69.79 km and an underground section of 12.36 km. The foundation stone for the project was laid on March 8, 2019. It is currently under constructi­on, with the 17 km long priority section being in advanced stages of implementation. The priority section will connect Sahibabad to Du­hai in Uttar Pradesh. Test runs with a single tra­in have already been started for this section, and it is expected to be commissioned by March 2023, three months ahead of the target date. The entire corridor is scheduled to be commissioned by June 2025.

The project has achieved physical pro­gress of 36 per cent and financial progress of 33 per cent. The entire project is expected to require over Rs 300 billion, including the Mee­rut Metro project. The Asian Development Ba­nk is providing a loan of $1 billion for the project. Additio­na­lly, the Asian Infrastructure Invest­ment Bank and the New Development Bank have also provided loan facilities of $500 million each. An agreement has been signed with Alstom India for the supply of 30 trains for the corridor. Alstom will also ca­rry out maintenance for the rolling stock for 15 years. Further, NCRTC has signed an agreement with DB India for the operation and maintenance of the corridor for 12 years.

NCRTC is also planning to operate dedica­ted freight trains for commercial services on the corridor. The route will have three depots at Ja­ng­pura in Delhi, Duhai in Ghaziabad and Mo­dipuram in Meerut, which will serve as pick-up and drop points for these freight trains. These dedicated trains will run during off-peak hours and will help in the rapid movement of goods and services. They will immensely reduce de­p­en­­dence on truck operators and thereby help in reducing pollution in the NCR.

According to industry estimates, the RRTS project is expected to reduce carbon emissions by taking around 15,000 private vehicles off the road on a daily basis, and increase the sha­re of the railways in public transport from about 37 per cent to 63 per cent.

In sum

Transformation is under way in IR, fuelled by the pursuit of its defined goals and upcoming projects. Upgrading the ageing railway infrastructure and enhancing the quality of services are the main focus areas for IR. With the help of DFCCIL and NCRTC, many new opportunities are being opened up for PPP, and construction and manufacturing players in the railway sector. The government is also focused on adapting to the ever-evolving market dynamics, and transforming the railway sector in the country.

With inputs from presentations by Pankaj Saxena, Director, Project Planning, DFCCIL; and Anil Kumar Shrangarya, Director, Project, NCRTC, at a recent India Infrastructure conference