Indian Railways has reportedly sought government approval to build three dedicated freight corridor networks with a total investment of Rs3tn ($43.53bn).
A government official told LiveMint that the move aims to facilitate freight movement in India. Additionally, the new corridors will decongest the network and assist to optimise passenger railway operations.
The three corridors that Indian Railways aim to build are the 2,328km-long East-West Corridor between Kolkata and Mumbai, the 2,327km North-South Corridor between Delhi and Chennai, and the 1,114km East Coast Corridor from Kharagpur and Vijaywada. Preliminary engineering works and traffic studies have been completed.
Indian Railways plans to build a total of five corridors in the country.
Construction of the first two dedicated freight corridors, the 1,856km-long Eastern Freight Corridor and the 1,504km-long Western Freight Corridor, are already underway. Both these projects are estimated to cost Rs810bn ($11.74bn).
The railway department is building the two corridors through its Dedicated Freight Corridor Corp of India (DFCCIL) unit.
It aims to complete around 60-70% of the work this fiscal year and have them completely operational by 2021.
Another government official told LiveMint that the new projects are expected to be funded through public-private partnerships. Indian Railways may also raise money from foreign institutions to carry out these projects.
Recently, the Government of India approved three railway projects with a combined value of Rs60.11bn ($872.5m). Two of these projects will be in the northern state of Uttar Pradesh, while the third project will be in the eastern state of Assam.