INDIA: The government, World Bank and project promoter Dedicated Freight Corridor Corp of India Ltd signed a US$1·1bn loan agreement to fund the second phase of the Eastern DFC on December 11. The 22-year International Bank for Reconstruction & Development loan has a seven-year grace period.

The 1 839 km Eastern DFC will provide an electrified route between Ludhiana and Kolkata suitable for 25 tonne axleloads and speeds of up to 100 km/h. The World Bank is supporting three phases totalling 1 133 km which are to be completed sequentially, but with overlapping construction schedules. Completion is planned by December 2019.

The World Bank signed a US$975m loan for the 343 km Khurja – Kanpur Phase 1 in October 2011. A Tata/Aldesa joint venture was awarded the Rs33bn Phase 1 civils contract, and bids for the railway systems contract are currently being evaluated.

The latest loan covers the 393 km Kanpur – Mughal Sarai Phase 2. DFCCIL has acquired 90% of the land, and expects to award the civil works contract by January 2015.

‘Implementing the Dedicated Freight Corridor programme will provide India with the opportunity to create one of the world’s largest freight operations, adopting proven international technologies and approaches which can progressively be extended to other important freight routes throughout the network’, said Onno Ruhl, World Bank Country Director.