World Bank approves $650 mn for Eastern Freight Corridor

New Delhi, July 1 (IANS) The World Bank on Wednesday approved $650 million in the third phase of loans for the Eastern Dedicated Freight Corridor (EDFC) that will make for faster and more efficient movement of goods between the northern and eastern parts of the country.

The bank respectively sanctioned $975 million and $1.1 billion, both with maturity periods of 22 years with a 7-year grace period, for first two phases.

“The World Bank is supporting the EDFC as a series of projects in which the three sections with a total route length of 1,146 km will be delivered sequentially, but with considerable overlap in their construction schedules,” it said in a statement here.

The first loan of $975 million for the 343 km Khurja-Kanpur section in the EDFC programme, approved in May 2011, is already under implementation.

The second loan of $1.1 billion for the second phase covering 402 km from Kanpur to Mughal Sarai was approved by the World Bank in April 2014.

Through the three phases, the multilateral lender will help build the 401-km stretch in the Ludhiana-Khurja section in Uttar Pradesh, Haryana and Punjab of the 1,840-km EDFC between Ludhiana and Kolkata.

The project will help increase the capacity of these freight-only lines by raising the axle-load limit from 22.9 to 25 tonnes and enable speeds of up to 100 km an hour, the World Bank said.

“It will also help develop the institutional capacity of the Dedicated Freight Corridor Corporation of India Ltd. (DFCCIL) to build and maintain the DFC infrastructure network,” it added.

“Implementing the Dedicated Freight Corridor programme will provide India the opportunity to create one of the world’s largest freight operations. The corridor will benefit from the new rail infrastructure, bringing jobs and much-needed development to some of India’s poorest regions,” said Onno Ruhl, World Bank country director in India.

“Moving freight from road to rail will reduce the carbon footprint of freight by 2.25 times,” he added.

The EDFC is planned to be built on two main routes of the western and the eastern corridors.

These corridors are expected to help increase railway transportation capacity through high-capacity, higher-speed dedicated freight corridors along the Golden Quadrilateral highway network connecting Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai and Kolkata.

The Golden Quadrilateral accounts for more than 60 percent of India’s total rail freight movement.

The central government is also planning to build seven integrated manufacturing clusters around the EDFC. These clusters on either side of EDFC will be set up with an investment of about $1 billion.

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