A significant growth in coal production in the past few years has necessitated the setting up of adequate logistical infrastructure for loading, handling and transporting coal. Over 65 per cent of coal is currently transported by the rail network. However, limited coal evacuation infrastructure and delays in the commissioning of critical rail projects connecting coal mines with end users have posed challenges for the coal industry in recent times.
To address these logistical bottlenecks, a number of initiatives are being taken by Indian Railways, Ministry of Coal (MoC), mining companies and state governments. Currently, around 84 projects are under way across India for facilitating smooth coal movement, of which around 14 projects have been brought under the Project Monitoring Group under the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) to ensure their commissioning as per schedule. In 2017, two important long-pending major rail infrastructure projects were made operational – the Tori-Balumath section (in the Tori-Shivpur division) and the Jharsuguda-Barpali-Dardega section.
Power Line presents a status review of the key railway projects under implementation, which are likely to improve coal evacuation in the country…
Currently, there are 84 capacity creation railway projects spanning over 9,000 km and an investment of over Rs 989 billion is under way for facilitating smooth coal evacuation. These comprise 15 new lines, 66 expansion (doubling/tripling/ quadrupling) lines and three gauge conversion projects (see Table).
Of these 84 projects, the Ministry of Railways, the MoC and the Ministry of Power have identified 14 critical projects, which are being monitored at the PMO level for early completion. These critical projects have been categorised based on their modes of funding. In the first category, they are being funded by the coal companies. Under the second category, the projects are being funded through special purpose vehicles (SPVs) and under the third category, they are being funded by Indian Railways.
Projects implemented through coal firms
One of the key projects being implemented through this route is the Tori-Shivpur railway line in Jharkhand (North Karanpura Coalfields). The line starts from Tori and crosses Balumath and Bukru, before reaching Shivpur. The total length of this section is 44.37 km, which is being implemented by East Central Railway on a deposit basis. The Tori to Balumath section is around 20 km in length and was commissioned in March 2018. Doubling of this section till Balumath along with electrification is targeted for completion by November 2018. The Balumath to Bukru section spanning 5 km is almost ready for commissioning. The 19 km section from Bukru to Shivpur was targeted to be commissioned by August 2018. Doubling of the remaining portions is targeted to be covered by March 2019.
- Another project is the Jharsuguda-Barpali-Sardega rail link at the Ib Valley Coalfields, under Mahanadi Coalfields Limited (MCL), in Odisha. It is 50 km in length. The project is being undertaken by South Eastern Railway on a deposit basis. The project was completed in April 2018, except for a small section, which is targeted to be completed soon.
- The third project under this route will connect the Lingaraj Silao railway station (SILO) with the existing Deulbeda siding at the Mahanadi Coal Railway Limited’s (MCRL) Talcher Coalfields in Odisha. This is being executed by East Coast Railway. The tenders have been finalised and work is targeted to be completed by March 2019.
- Lastly, a 56 km railway line in Telangana from Bhadrachalam to Sattupalli (Godavari Valley coalfields) is being executed by South Central Railway. At the moment, land acquisition is under process and is expected to be completed by the end of the month. The tenders have been finalised and the target date of commissioning has been set as September 2019.
Projects implemented through SPVs
- Currently, four projects are being implemented through SPVs. One of these would help in coal evacuation from the North Karanpura coalfield in Jharkhand. This is being executed by Jharkhand Central Railway Limited and will connect Shivpur with Kathautia. Central Coalfields Limited has a 64 per cent equity share in the SPV, followed by Ircon International Limited with 26 per cent and the Jharkhand government at 10 per cent. The detailed project report (DPR) has been approved and land acquisition is currently in progress. The project is expected to be completed by November 2018. The target timeline for commissioning is December 2020.
- The East Corridor Kharasia–Korichhapar-Dharamjaygarh project is being executed by Chhattisgarh East Railway Limited. South Eastern Coalfields has an equity share of 64 per cent, followed by IRCON with 26 per cent and the Chattisgarh government at 10 per cent in the SPV. The project is being implemented in two phases — the first phase is 74 km long and the second phase is 62 km long. Phase I of the project from Kharasia to Korichhapar (44 km single line) has already been completed. The remaining 1 km will be completed by March 2019 and the Kharasia-Korichhapar double line along with the spur line at Gharghoda–Garepalma is targeted to be completed by March 2019. Meanwhile, under Phase II, financial closure of the Dharamjaygarh– Korba shetch is still pending.
- The third project on this route is the East-West Corridor-Gevra Road–Pendra Road (Korba coalfield in Chhattisgarh), which is being executed by Chhattisgarh East West Railway Limited. The DPR has been approved and financial closure is expected to be completed soon. The target date for commissioning is December 2020.
- The fourth project is the Angul-Balram rail link (Talcher coalfield in Odisha), which is being executed by (MCRL). The target date for commissioning is March 2022.
Projects funded by Indian Railways
Around six projects are being funded by Indian Railways. The first is the doubling of the rail line from Singrauli to Shaktinagar via Karaila Road. For this project, the tenders have been finalised but land acquisition is still in progress. The target date for commissioning the Shaktinagar-Karaila Road section is December 2019, while for the Karaila Road-Singrauli section, it is June 2019.
For the doubling of the Singrauli-Mahadiya and the Mahadiya-Katni sections, which is a 260 km long section, the commissioning plans have been divided into four phases. The first phase is 59 km long and is expected to be completed by 2018-19, followed by the 83 km long Phase II by 2019-20, 66 km long Phase III by 2020-21, and the remaining 52 km by 2021-22.
A third line, the Patratu–Tori–Sonnagar section is 291 km in length and is being executed by Rail Vikas Nigam Limited (RVNL). It comprises five packages, of which tenders for two packages are being finalised. Tenders for two other packages were opened in June 2018, while for tender for the remaining package has been invited. Phase I of the project spanning 85 km is likely to be commissioned by 2019-20, while the remaining 206 km would be commissioned by March 2022.
The fourth line between Jharsuguda and Bilaspur (195 km) is being executed by South East Central Railway. The entire project is expected to be completed by December 2018.
Another project is the dedicated freight corridor from Dadri to Sonnagar, extending up to Koderma, which is being executed by the Dedicated Freight Corridor Corporation of India. Initially, it was planned to be executed through the public-private partnership mode (PPP). However, later the railways undertook the project. Work is currently in progress.
Lastly, the Talcher to Budhapank (10 km) and Budhapank to Rajathgarh (62 km) projects are being executed by the East Coast Railway. The Talcher to Budhapank line is expected to be completed by February 2019 and the Budhapank to Rajathgarh line by December 2020.
Besides investing in new lines, the railways is also increasing rake availability for ferrying coal. According to reports, the average rake loading per day to the power sector stood at 202 rakes in April-September 2018, a growth of 9.6 per cent as compared to 184.3 rakes for the same period in the previous year. Going forward, the rail projects under implementation by Indian Railways and coal companies are expected to facilitate higher coal volume evacuation.
(Based on a presentation by the Railway Board at a recent Power Line conference)