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Posted on Feb 26, 08:17PM | IANS
New Delhi, Feb 26 : Railway Minister Pawan Kumar Bansal Tuesday informed the Lok Sabha that land acquisition for the 2,800 km of eastern and western freight corridors is almost complete and that construction work will start soon.
"Land acquisition is almost complete. The first major civil construction contract on the 343 km Kanpur-Khurja section of the eastern corridor has already been awarded," Bansal said while presenting the rail budget.
According to the minister, the construction contracts to cover up to 1,500 km on the two corridors would be awarded by the end of 2013-14 fiscal.
He said that preliminary engineering-cum-traffic studies (PETS) have been taken up on four future dedicated freight corridors.
The railways have proposed a 2,000 km-long east-west corridor between Kolkata and Mumbai, 2,173 km-long north-south corridor connecting Delhi-Chennai, 1,100 km-long east coast corridor between Kharagpur to Vijayawada and 890 km-long south-west corridor from Chennai to Goa.
The freight corridors are intended to give logistical support to growing industrial activity in the country and de-congest the rail network for passenger trains.
Bansal also said the railways would ferry one billion tonnes of goods by this fiscal-end.
"The Indian Railways is set to achieve the milestone of entering the one billion tonne select club, joining Chinese, Russian and US Railways. This year the originating freight loading is estimated to be 1,007 million tonnes (MT), about 38 MT over 2011-12," Bansal said.
The minister added that the government is taking initiatives to make the railways a major heavy-haul carrier, which includes running of long-haul trains.
"As a part of this initiative, 49 long loops, that could hold 1.5 km long trains, have been sanctioned this year, besides large scale induction of distributed power systems to mitigate capacity constraints and improve wagon utilisation."