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Double stack goods train to roll down on Palanpur-Gandhidham route

Written by: Staff
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New Delhi, Mar 23 (UNI) The profile of container transportation is all set to be redefined with double stack goods trains slated to roll down on the Palanpur-Samakhiali rail route in Gujarat tomorrow, a day after Railway Minister Lalu Prasad flagged off the country's first such train between Kanakpura in Rajasthan and Pipavav port in Gujarat.

The project owes its success to collaborative efforts of Rail Vikas Nigam Ltd (RVNL), a public sector undertaking of the Railway Ministry, the Gujarat government and two private companies, resulting in the setting up of Kutch Rail Company Ltd (KRCL).

KRCL was used as a Special Purpose Vehicle (SPV) for constructing the 301-km rail line between Gujarat's coastal city of Gandhidham and Palanpur.

RVNL Managing Director J P Shukla said while RVNL had a 50 per cent share in the KRCL, Kandla Port Trust accounted for 26 per cent, Mundra Port 20 per cent and the Gujarat government four per cent.

Mr Shukla said Gandhidham and Palanpur were already connected with meter gauge train route. ''The public-private-partnership (PPP) model was selected for converting this metre gauge line into broad gauge, and it had been a grand success as the job was done in record 99 days.'' Kutch Rail Compnay Ltd has so far constructed the 246-km rail line between Palanpur and Samakhiali. The broad gauge line already exists between Samakhiali and Gandhinagar. ''In effect, double stack goods trains can now run between Palanpur and Gandhidham,'' he said.

Mr Shukla said at present a goods train has to cover a distance of 434 km while going from Palanpur to Gandhidham. ''The opening of this new route will shorten the distance to 301 km,'' he said, adding that the project was not only completed in record 99 days but also at a cost less than its estimated expenditure.

In June 2005, the construction cost of this rail line was pegged at Rs 550.75 crore which was revised to Rs 499.95 crore in December that year.

The RVNL MD said a full audit of the spent amount was yet to be done but it was estimated that a sum of Rs 20 crore would be saved from the revised estimate.

For financing the project, KRCL raised a loan of Rs 300 crore while another Rs 200 crore was provided by its shareholders. The rail line will greatly facilitate export and import of goods from the ports in Kutch region to cities and towns in Gujarat at economical rate and at reduced rates.

In addition, it will facilitate faster evacuation of containers from ports and inland container depots and reduce infrastructural requirement of the railway system.

UNI/SKS VD PM1538

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