Timely com­ple­tion is crit­i­cal

Maritime Gateway - - From The Editor -

There is a joke do­ing the rounds in the in­dus­try cir­cles and it goes like this: the last time the Ja­panese Pre­mier Shinzo Abe was here in In­dia, In­dian Prime Min­is­ter Modi took him to Varanasi where travel and rit­u­als took up four hours of the vis­it­ing guest. At the end of the func­tion, Abe seemed to have quipped to his coun­ter­part, peo­ple have so much time to spare, why do they need bul­let train? In the wake of the an­nounce­ment of the bul­let train be­com­ing a cer­tainty, we ask the same ques­tion that do we need a bul­let train con­nect­ing Mumbai and Ahmed­abad at a cost of $17 bil­lion? The rea­son, os­ten­si­bly, for this high speed rail is to en­sure travel is easy for peo­ple mov­ing be­tween these cities for busi­ness. By this virtue, the ded­i­cated freight cor­ri­dor is no dif­fer­ent from the pas­sen­ger train. One fa­cil­i­tates busi­ness and the other car­ries goods fa­cil­i­tated by busi­ness. The two DFCS en­vis­aged in the east and west - be­ing funded by JICA - were hailed as key in­fra­struc­ture projects to drive eco­nomic growth.

The ben­e­fits of the freight cor­ri­dors are too many to list here, but trains on the ex­clu­sive rail and road cor­ri­dors will move at a speed of 100kmph once ready from a pain­ful 25kmph now. This means the freight trains too will make it to Delhi in a day from Bom­bay.

For al­most five years now these cor­ri­dors have been post­poned, re­vis­ited with routes be­ing al­tered many a time. Planned to be func­tional by 2018 orig­i­nally, some say these projects might not see the light of day un­til 2022. Rea­son: Un­due de­mands made by lo­cal civic and rail­way re­gional heads to ac­quire land and ex­e­cute the project in stretches. The 4th ter­mi­nal in JNPT would per­haps be un­able to de­liver on its po­ten­tial fully be­cause of the prob­lems caused by the rail­ways in clear­ing just 450 me­tres of a line. How then does gov­ern­ment en­vis­age that the high-speed rail project to be com­pleted in the next five years?

These de­lays lead to cost es­ca­la­tion. DFCS are key to do­ing busi­ness eas­ily in In­dia. Their timely ex­e­cu­tion will en­sure it be­comes Modi gov­ern­ment’s legacy just like na­tional high­ways be­came Va­j­payee’s gov­ern­ment’s. It will also play a lead role in trans­form­ing the rail­ways from a loss mak­ing op­er­a­tion to an ef­fi­cient and prof­itable ven­ture. When Modi an­nounced he would has­ten the DFC projects, there was hope that freight op­er­a­tions were be­ing treated at par with pas­sen­ger train ser­vices. But with the lat­est an­nounce­ment, the trade com­mu­nity will be left to lick its wounds again.

DFCS timely ex­e­cu­tion will en­sure they be­come Modi gov­ern­ment’s legacy just like na­tional high­ways be­came Va­j­payee’s gov­ern­ment’s.

R Ram­prasad Ed­i­tor and Pub­lisher ram­prasad@gate­way­media.in

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