Union Minister of State for Railways K.H. Muniyappa said on Saturday the Railway Ministry was considering the possibility of having a dedicated freight corridor between the east coast and the west coast connecting Chennai in Tamil Nadu and Vasco-da-Gama in Goa.
Interacting with journalists at The Hindu office here, Mr. Muniyappa said the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government was committed to accelerating the development pace and according priority for high-speed freight movement.
The present alignment running via Renigunta, Guntakal, Bellary and Hubli was circuitous.
Chief Administrative Officer (Construction), South Western Railway (SWR), S. Vijayakumaran said the Ministry had asked Rail Vikas Nigam Ltd., to study the traffic pattern on the corridor and suggest an altogether new alignment.
The present alignment was of an 'S' shape and was lengthy. After Rail Vikas Nigam submitted the report, the Ministry would take a suitable decision.
Asked whether Bangalore would be on the new alignment, he said it depended on the traffic density. Japan was keen on partnering with the Indian Railways in executing this project, he added.
Mr. Muniyappa said the Railway Ministry had already sanctioned the Ludhiana-Howrah and Delhi-Mumbai dedicated corridors. Asked whether the increased freight loads on the existing tracks would lead to faster decay of the rails, the Minister said freight corridors were designed to prevent such an eventuality.
While the 1,600-km East Corridor was expected to cost Rs. 15,000 crore, the 1,300-km West Corridor was likely to cost Rs. 12,000 crore, both of which were being undertaken under public-private partnership (PPP).
With the Railways facing severe funds constraints to take up new ventures, the Ministry was keen on evolving the PPP model to execute new projects, Mr. Muniyappa said.
He said Karnataka, which was already sharing the costs of several projects and was now ready for the PPP too for new projects, had become a model for other States.
The Minister said he had held discussions with the Andhra Pradesh government too, which had come forward to undertake new projects under PPP. The proposal to add 25,000 km of new railway lines at a cost of Rs. 1.25 lakh crore to the existing 63,000 km network, as a part of Vision 2020 envisaged by Railway Minister Mamata Banerjee, involved electrification of 12,000 km existing as well as dedicated corridors, he noted.
The Ministry was keen on complete electrification of the lines in view of the increasing global warming scenario, he added.
On solid waste disposal, Mr. Muniyappa said the Ministry was concerned about the issue, particularly about the unhygienic conditions on railway station premises. The Ministry held discussions with three parties in this regard, who offered to provide solutions, he added.
The SWR's Bangalore Divisional Railway Manager Akhil Agarwal was present.