To meet the rapid economic growth in recent years, the Indian government is developing a policy that will strengthen the nation’s transportation capacity including that of roads and railway while shifting the emphasis to railway cargo transportation from economical and environmental perspective. It has been noted, however, that the system cannot meet future demand -- routes have reached saturation and freight trains are currently operated between passenger trains.
At a Japan-India summit in April 2005, an agreement was concluded to study the feasibility of separate freight lines with technical support from Japan. Between May 2006 and October 2007, a development study titled “Feasibility Study on the development of dedicated multimodal high axle load freight corridor with computerized control for Delhi-Mumbai and Delhi Howrah, India” was implemented whose objective was to formulate a plan for new freight lines; the Eastern Corridor of the Golden Quadrilateral between Mumbai and Delhi and the Western Corridor between Ludhiana and Sone Nagar, a total of 2,800 kilometers.
Based on the results of the study confirming the relevance and feasibility of the project from the viewpoints of technology, economics and financing, the Indian Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs gave their preliminary approval for construction of the new lines in November 2007. However, further study was required for technical reasons on some sections, and the following month, Indian government requested technical guidance in the form of a technical cooperation project from Japanese government to move forward with the project as soon as possible.
The Western Corridor in India, which connects the largest container port in the nation, Jawaharlal Nehru Port, is predicted to dramatically increase in freight demand in the future. The government has, therefore, adopted the rare transportation technique of using double-decker containers. If a hauling method by an electric locomotive is adopted, which is superior in terms of environment and economics, it would be the first such trial in the world, and then issues have arisen whether the development of the special facilities and the technology required are proven as well as whether safety and stability during operation can be ensured.
Under this project, technical guidance was provided to introduce Japanese knowledge to Indian Ministry of Railways in such areas as plan formulation, experimental line construction and equipment procurement. Additionally, the validity of their independent analyses based on past data, wind tunnel tests and actual operation tests was demonstrated.
It is critical that detailed studies and analyses be carried out, and those data acquired after the project is complete and before commercial operation begins. Also, an expert team has pointed out that safety control must be thoroughly instituted including the guidelines for container loading at the port and inland container depots.
Beginning with an agreement signed at the April 2005 Japan-India summit, a series of cooperation activities has been developed with the wholehearted support of government officials, engineers and experts of both countries, a testament to the formation of comprehensive economic relations between the two countries. After the project is complete, Indian government has made the preliminary decision to adopt an electrical hauling mode, and with expectation of Japanese technical support, the construction of the Western Corridor has been agreed upon through Japanese ODA loan funded with Japan’s Special Terms for Economic Partnership.