[Economy] Dedicated Freight Corridors (DFC), High Speed Rail Corridors, Rail Tariff Regulatory Authority, Issues, Reforms in Indian Railways

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IAS Mock Interviews
  1. Why Dedicated Freight Corridor (DFC)?
  2. Benefits of Dedicated Freight Corridor?
  3. High speed Rail Corridor
  4. National High Speed Rail Authority
  5. Rail Tariff Regulatory Authority
  6. Counter arguments: Rail Tariff Regulatory Authority
  7. India vs China: Railway success
  8. Rail Reforms Required
  9. Mock Questions

Why Dedicated Freight Corridor (DFC)?

  • For high GDP growth, we need lot of electricity =lot of coal need to be transported from mines to thermal power station.
  • For infrastructure (bridges, roads, buildings)= need fast transport of cement, steel, machinery.
  • Because of growing international trade via sea lanes= need to quickly transport products from factories to ports.
  • This has led to birth of Dedicated Freight Corridors along the Eastern and Western Routes in 2005.
Eastern CorridorWestern Corridor
StartLudhiana in PunjabDadri in Uttar Pradesh
  1. Haryana,
  2. Uttar Pradesh
  3. Bihar
  1. Haryana
  2. Rajasthan
  3. Gujarat
  4. Maharashtra
EndDankuni in West BengalJawaharlal Nehru Port Trust near Mumbai
When to complete?20172016.
Length approx.18001500

Total length 3000+Kms. Japan is providing financial and technical help for this project.

Benefits of Dedicated Freight Corridor?

  1. The existing rail network, runs on a combination of diesel + electrical trains.
  2. The Dedicated freight corridor will operate entirely on electric trains= less greenhouse gases.
  3. After Dedicated freight corridor, the passenger traffic and freight (goods) traffic will be separated = leading to faster speeds and efficiency.


  • Under the High Speed Railway corridors (HSR) plan, the Railways intend to run trains at the speed of 160 km to 200 km per hour.
  • Ministry of Railways has selected following six corridors
  1. Delhi-Chandigarh-Amritsar
  2. Pune-Mumbai-Ahmedabad
  3. Hyderabad-Dornakal-Vijaywada-Chennai
  4. Chennai-Bangalore-Coimbatore-Ernakulam
  5. Howrah-Haldia
  6. Delhi -Agra-Lucknow -Varanasi – Patna


  1. A high-speed rail moving at speeds of 300 km/hr would take just about 2 hours to reach from New Delhi to Lucknow. Currently, it takes six hours for the fastest train on the route to cover the same distance.
  2. The benefits of high-speed rail are immense vis-a-vis road and airlines. These rail systems have 30% less land requirement in comparison to expressways for same carrying capacity.
  3. High-speed railways would directly compete with economy class tickets of an airline.
  4. These trains are highly fuel-efficient as their energy consumption is one third less than private cars and 5 times less than airplanes.


  • Railways is more interested in constructing the Ahmedabad-Mumbai project first.
  • But Planning Commission recommends that Delhi-Agra corridor should be constructed first. Because it is shorter and cheaper than A’bad-Mumbai project.

National High Speed Rail Authority

  • Ministry of Railways has decided to set up a National High Speed Rail Authority (NHSRA)
  • It’ll be an autonomous body through a bill in Parliament .
  • NHSRA will be responsible for planning, implementation and monitoring of High Speed Rail Corridor projects.
  • NHSRA is being proposed to be set up on the lines of the National Highway Authority and it would be under the Railways Ministry.
  • selection of chairman and members of the NHSRA would be done by the Public Enterprise Selection Board (PESB) with the approval of Appointment Committee of Cabinet.

Rail Tariff Regulatory Authority

  • Railways Act, 1989, Ministry of Railways enjoys full powers to fix tariffs.
  • But Finance Ministry recommends that a separate body should be established to regulate tariff in Railways.
  • Currently, Telecome sector has TRAI to regulate the tarrifs.
  • Because Railways is a monopoly. therefore an independent regulatory mechanism =necessary.
  • This authority will help Railways to improve performance and tighten productivity loss.
  • And To ensure that the Railways meet the transport requirement at the minimum cost to economy.

Counter arguments: Rail Tariff Regulatory Authority

  • Road transport segment is entirely in the private sector and it doesn’t have any regulatory body to fix transport prices.
  • In Aviation sector, there are both private and public operators (Airindia!) and yet there is no regulatory authorities to control transport prices in Aviation either.
  • And both road transport and aviation =competitors of Railways.
  • So, if they don’t have a price regulator then why should Railways?
  • Besides, Ministry of Railways doubts such authority will not help fulfilling the social-objectives.(such as concessional passes for students, cheap tickets for poor people)
  • On these arguments, the Working Group of planning Commission has said, “maintain status-quo. No need to setup Railway Tariff regulatory authority.”

India vs China: Railway success

The Productivity of Chinese Railways= >More than twice of Indian Railways! Why? Because

  1. They use heavier, longer and faster freight trains to transport coal, cement, iron-ore etc.
  • We don’t have the money to buy such trains.
  1. They’ve outsourced the minor tasks (such as cleaning the railway coaches, providing blankets to passengers etc.) to private companies =cheaper input cost and more efficiency.
  • Not done to annoy unions, vote bank.
  1. They closed down many railway stations with low volume of freight or passengers.
  • Not done.
  1. They don’t usually provide rail service for short distance passenger traffic. This is done to release staff and trains for longer distance rail travel.
  • Not done
  1. Their railways doesn’t waste ca$h on opening museums, cultural centers, hospitals etc.
  2. Whatever hospitals, schools etc. Chinese rail authorities were running in the past, they handed it over to local municipalities.
  • Prior to W.Bengal election, Ex-Railway minister Mamta Benerjee announced many such projects like Tagore museum, bottling plant, hospitals etc.
  • These projects may be socially desirable but economically they’re not viable.
  • Railways shouldn’t involve in these activities.
  1. Their wagon construction factories run on private-corporate level efficiency.
  • Our factories run like just “sarkaari” department= low productivity.
  • The ruling party would insist to setup new factories in the election constituency of their leader.=not good from production/ Management/economy point of view.
  1. China abolished the “regional-division” system and centralized the management of depots, stations and yards= more efficiency.
  • Our railways has “division”: western, southern….=empires within empire.

Suggested Reforms

Planning Commission formed a working group on Railways. It has recommended following things

Passenger trains

  • Restructure the tariff to maximize Revenue. (=increase ticket prices)
  • At present, speed of trains of Passenger Mail/Express trains is below 55 kmph.
  • These are low as per international standards.
  • On popular routes, 24/26 coaches trains should be run to generate additional capacity.
  • Replace conventional trains by EMUs/MEMUs/DMUs.
  • Railways should develop alternative terminal at sub-urban areas of major cities.
  • Railways should hasten the implementation of Dedicated Freight Corridor. This way passenger and freight traffic will become separate from eachother= faster passenger services, quicker freight movement.

Goods transport

  • Following the Chinese success story, our strategy should be “HEAVIER, LONGER, FASTER” trains for freight (goods) transport.
  • Upgrade to heavier (higher axle load), speedier (100 kmph) and longer freight trains=maximum utilization of existing track capacity.
  • We should Import bogies from USA. They’re more track-friendly and capable of carrying enhanced loads.

No subsidy on magazines

  • Indian Railways carry ‘Magazines’ parcel at highly subsidized rates.
  • But nowadays the cost of magazines is very high and it is a profitable business!
  • Besides, Magazines are not read by poor people.
  • Therefore, Railways should stop giving concessional rates for transporting ‘Magazines’.
  • However, Railways should continue giving concessional rates for transporting Newspapers.

Perishable cargo

Under Kisan vision project.

  • cold storage and temperature controlled perishable cargo centres
  • Refrigerated Vans (VPRs)
  • Through Public Private Partnership mode,
  • Project done in Singur, Nasik and Jalpaiguri etc.


  • There are almost 15000 unmanned level crossings. = They’re responsible for 40% accidents (2011 data.)
  • Accordingly, Indian Railways Vision – 2020 and Railway Budget Speech, these unmanned crossing have to be fixed in the next five years.
  • For Signaling & Telecommunication in Railways, switch over to systems and equipment of higher reliability and safety levels.
  • Setup On-Board Fire detection and Fire Fighting equipment in trains.
  • Use of GPS technology and RFID technology for tracking railway trains.

Biometric VCD

  • Driver’s Vigilance Telemetry Control System).
  • It is a small wrist-watch like device. It constantly moniters driver’s posture, pulse etc.
  • So if the driver has consumed desi-liquor and fell half-asleep in the cabin, the station manager would get alarmed and can automatically stop the train.
  • Russia has been using such telemetry system for Locopilots (=train drivers) since a long time.

Train Collision Avoidance systems (TCAS).

  • It is combination of GPS and Radio Frequency.
  • It applies brakes without pilots.
  • It avoid collisions due to human errors, rain or fog, natural calamities or sabotage.
  • This would minimize human dependence in train operations and enhance the level of safety


  • Railway would need more than 16000 crores to do all these things. And Government of India is tight on cash already (MNREGA, food security etc..you get the picture)
  • So Railways will need to arrange the cash by itself = need to raise the tariffs, otherwise safety reforms can’t be done.

Misc. Cost reduction

  • LED based lighting & Display System to reduce electricity bill.
  • Provision of solar Panels, Solar Water heaters, Solar Pumps etc. in Hospitals, Running Rooms, Rest Houses run by railways.
  • Provision of roof top Solar Panels on passenger coaches running in Close Circuits
  • Grid connected Solar Panels at major stations.

Human resource Management


  • For the medium term, UPSC should provide railway officers.
  • But in the long term, railways itself should hire personnel from IIMs/IITs.
  • Railways should also allow for lateral recruitment in R&D, marketing and finance, HR.
Minor worksMajor works
Examplescleaning of coaches,provision of blankets and food in trainsmanufacturing locomotives, coaches, wagons.
Suggestion of planning commission:Outsource this work private companies=less cost than permanent staff.Partial disinvestment. Run it on corporate lines.=more efficiency.
  • ^Both Chinese Railways and Japanese Railways are doing this.

Mock Questions

Q1. Correct statement about Dedicated Freight Corridors?

  1. It is made up of three sub-corridors: Western, Eastern and Northern
  2. The Eastern Corridor will connect Punjab to W.Bengal
  3. Only electrical trains will be operated on these corridors.
  4. The Western Corridor will connect Punjab to Karnataka.
  1. Only 1 and 4
  2. Only 1 and 3
  3. Only 2 and 3
  4. Only 2 and 4

Q2. Correct Statement about National High Speed Rail Authority

  1. It’ll be responsible for implementing the Dedicated Freight Corridor project
  2. It’ll be an autonomous body, established by an act of parliament.
  1. Only 1
  2. Only 2
  3. Both
  4. None
Q3. Which of the following states are common for both Eastern and Western Dedicated Freight Corridor projects?
  1. Rajsthan and Gujarat
  2. Delhi and Haryana
  3. Haryana and UP
  4. UP and Bihar


  1. National High Speed Rail Authority (5m)
  2. Train Collision Avoidance systems (TCAS) (5m)
  3. Examine the case for setting up a nation railway tariff authority (10m)
  4. Write a note on Dedicated Freight Corridors (12m)
  5. (Interview): Railways: The artery of India.


  1. (in context of the issue that Planning Commission says run high speed train on Delhi-Agra while Railways wants Ahmedabad-Mumbai)…which project should be taken up first and why?
  2. Should Government establish a separate regulatory authority to regulate transport price in highway and aviation sector? Yes/No why?
  3. You’re made the Railways minister. What will be your first five initiatives?

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41 Comments on “[Economy] Dedicated Freight Corridors (DFC), High Speed Rail Corridors, Rail Tariff Regulatory Authority, Issues, Reforms in Indian Railways”

    1. Your answers are correct.
      Official Answerkey
      Q1. (C) Only 2 and 3.
      Q2. (B) only 2nd statement correct.
      Q3. (C) Haryana and UP.

      1. sir plzz Give download pdf option for ur pages

        1. the print button is at the bottom of the article (right side corner), just above the comments.

  1. Mrunal Thanks for Great article……keep it up.

  2. thank you Mrunal ji. very helpful.

  3. thank u sir…sir please explain about co-operative bank , sahkari banks , gramin bank..& by which Act these run?

  4. Mrunal,do correct me if I am wrong, but the planning commission has approved 7 High Speed corridors and not 6 as you have posted.There is one connecting Thiruvananthapuram and Mangalore also.

  5. Please explain about different ways of Disinvestment methods and pros and cons? what is the present role of NIF in this disinvestment process……….

  6. Mrunal is RIGHT.Six have been approved and two proposed not approved.

  7. Thanks for the valuable information Mrunal.

    Guys lets put ourselves in railway minister’s boots & describe 5 initiatives to be taken by us individually:
    Mine are below:

    1. Effectively manage prices. Like ration card holders get ration at a cheaper price similarly there should be a provision for poor people to travel cheaply in trains.
    2. Electrification of all corridors all over india thus eliminating the dependency on diesel.
    3. Recruit talent directly from institutions. As in mechanical Engineers for wagon factories, civil engineers for track maintenance and bridges, Telecommunication engineers for better signalling & controlling etc.
    4. Investing more on Research and development & outsourcing minor tasks to private firms as suggested by Mrunal.
    5. Autonomous auditing department for keeping a check on progress& corruption and conducting yearly reviews of ministry of railways.

    please share yours !

  8. Hello Sir,
    Please tell me the word limit for 2,12,20 and 30 markers for Sociology and Geography Mains.

  9. Thank you sir,very informative article.

  10. 1- i will be eastabilishment to desile train in hole country.
    2- i will be take a desi under the budget for refform.
    3- so after i will eastabilishment the anti cuttuption only train system for example toll free number.
    4- after i will try to stop more problems,and after i would try to impliment of all yojana under the train departmant.

  11. Dear Mrunal,
    For long I have been a silent admirer of your blog. Your writing skill and research over any topic are really fascinating.

    But may I make a minor suggestion – Can you please put up a bibliography as well at the end of your articles? This would help us in locating relevant information while researching on some other topic.

    Thanking you in anticipation.

    1. mind blowing poems; so refreshing;who wrote them

  12. Mrunal Ji, when you say
    “China abolished the ‘regional-division’ system and centralized the management of depots, stations and yards= more efficiency”

    How can centralization will be effective than De-Centralization ? Are you referring to the Economical Efficiency or Load Efficiency ?

  13. But Finance Ministry recommends that a separate body should be established to regulate traffic in Railways.
    Currently, Telecome sector has TRAI to regulate the tarrifs.
    sir it is bit confusing it is traffic or tarif

  14. mrunal look into the issue ….y such bad comments are there????

  15. What is the connection between DFC and High Speed Railway corridors pls explain ….. dint get it ?

  16. My 5 initiatives
    1. Save cost – To build capital through,
    a. Remove unwanted subsidies like Mrunal mentioned i.e, on Magazines transportation etc.,
    b. Outsource minor jobs like cleaning coaches, food, providing blankets etc.,
    c. Improve productivity (No more running like “Sarkari company” ) – We can save lot of money here.
    d. Save electricity through implementing cost saving Solar panels.
    e. (I will recruit best brains in our country to build this list )

    2. Money saved through my first initiative should be put for safety improvement at all trains i.e through Modernizing signaling system, TCAS, Biometric VCD’s, Improving hygiene and quality of travel.

    3. Make railways an independent authority under the Ministry of Railways – who will take decision on Planning, Designing and implementation of railway projects, management and control of all railway stations, employees and trains. – There should be an audit committee consisting of Public and Govt. representatives to oversee the working and avoid corruption.

    4. Their should be 5 dedicated fright corridors 2 already mentioned by Mrunal, Other 3 are Mumbai – Thiruvanthapuram, Chennai – Kolkata, Kolkata – Dibrugarh (Assam). These lines should be completely electrified, Goods carrying trains should be long with heavy capacity wagons.

    5. Create Railways R&D units across the country, Need to have collaboration with IIT’s and best university in the world and setup R&D centers at those institutes and encourage best brains to perform research. Their should be a research on developing aerodynamic trains (i.e, bullet trains), develop more innovate safety devices for trains and personnel working with the railways.

  17. Asusual…A gr8 article indeed !!! thanku Mrunal bhai!!!

  18. sir, i am a regular follower of your article.And i like reading your article
    in my spare time. but know a days i am not able to download your thought provking article.
    plzz sir help me out.

  19. How to get PDF
    1. Install Google Chrome Browser.
    2. Open the webpage in Google Chrome Browser and come back here.
    3. Now press “Ctrl” and “P” keys on your keyboard simultaneously.
    4. New Window comes. There you’ve the option to save the page as a “PDF”
    and don’t worry these instructions will not be printed!
    [Economy] Dedicated Freight Corridors (DFC), High Speed Rail Corridors, Rail Tariff Regulatory
    i followed these step but there is no option for save as pdf.
    i think previous way is good sir,
    if it is possible then provide us article in previour way.

  20. Please put date of publishing of an article .. it becomes confusing which articles are recent and which are older.. .

    i really like your blog. .
    thank you

  21. Thanks sir it helps me very much……

  22. What is RFID technology

    1. Radio frequency Identification. This works on radio frequency and the principle is very simple. You have an Reader and you have a transmitter which is attatched to anything you want to track. It has a 16 bit code which can be read by the reader to identify it. Simply put If you go to mall, the tags are put on cloths and the readers are at the exit. If you try to flick the clothes you will be caught. the reader detects the tag. this can be applied for parking automation of vehicles, tracking of wild life, employee attendance automation etc. lots of application…

  23. you mentioned that high speed rail corridors can allow trains to run between 160 to 200 kmph. but then u also said train from delhi to lucknow will run at 300 kmph. what is the actual speed limit?

  24. If the rail track is so healthy and with the help of modern device likeTCAS and Train Collision Avoidance systems train traffic inc reseed with safety will be the best development DFC .

  25. Mrunal, you are a savior. thank you so much. these articles save so much time especially at this point of time.

  26. thank you so much. these articles save so much time especially at this point of time.

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