INDIA: Japan International Co-operation Agency signed a further loan agreement for the 1 483 km Western Dedicated Freight Corridor on July 26, making the planned route between Delhi and Mumbai Japan's largest official development assistance project.

The latest loan provides the Indian government with ¥1·6bn repayable over 40 years to fund design reviews and tender preparation for the 552 km second phase of the Western DFC, which will be suitable for 100 km/h running and 30 tonne axleloads.

It follows the signing in March of a ¥90·3bn loan for construction of Phase 1 between Rewari and Vadodara. Phase 2 will extend this north from Rewari to Dadri near Delhi, and south from Vadodara to Mumbai. Bids for consultancy services will be invited shortly, with a view to the design stage being completed by September 2012. The intention is that Japanese technology will be used.

India's current five-year plan puts acceleration of freight and improved access to ports among the government's top national priorities for 2007-12. The Western DFC is part of the Delhi - Mumbai Industrial Corridor Initiative, which aims to link industry and ports in six states to create an industrial belt stretching 150 km either side of the railway.

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