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Thursday, Sep 22, 2005

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Kutch Rly to achieve financial closure by Oct

Mamuni Das

With the rail link in place, KRCL expects to serve the ports of Kandla and Mundra for all export-import traffic including containerised ones, IFFCO's base in Gandhidham and salt companies.

New Delhi , Sept. 21

KUTCH Railway Company Ltd (KRCL) appears to be geared up to cut short rail transportation distance between the Gujarat ports and the northern hinterland. The company has recently appointed its first Managing Director, Mr Yogendra Sharma, who was formerly with the Indian Railways.

KRCL is a 314-km gauge-conversion, public-private partnership project between Palanpur and Gandhidham. At present, freight trains use a rail route between Gandhidham and Palanpur, the distance of which is 434 km. The track is congested as it is used by passenger trains as well. The KRCL rail track would reduce the distance between the two points by 120 km to 314 km and would be used primarily by freight trains. "With the complete track in place by 2006-end, KRCL line expects to get a minimum of 5-6 million tonnes of freight cargo during 2006-07, registering Rs 62.98 crore of revenue," Mr Sharma told Business Line. Subsequently, in 2007-08, we expect to earn Rs 133 crore.

He added, "KRCL hopes to achieve financial closure by mid-October by raising about Rs 340 crore debt from various nationalised banks." At present Rs 160 crore has already been spent on the ground. Western Railways has been awarded the engineering-cum-procurement contract.

KRCL, with an equity base of Rs 200 crore, is owned 50 per cent by the Rail Vikas Nigam Ltd, 26 per cent by Kandla Port Trust, 20 per cent by Gujarat Adani Port and 4 per cent by Gujarat Government. Initially, the project cost was estimated at about Rs 450 crore, which has now escalated to Rs 540 crore.

With the rail link in place, KRCL expects to serve the ports of Kandla and Mundra for all export-import traffic including containerised ones, IFFCO's base in Gandhidham and salt companies.

"We look forward to reducing the transportation costs to these ports by Rs 1.9 lakh per rake on longer routes like Gandhidham and Punjab. This would mean about six per cent reduction in the long routes where as in shorter routes, the reduction would be of a much higher percentage," said Mr Sharma adding that transporting goods would be cheaper by about 50 paise per tonne per km on an average.

The project would be implemented in two phases. "We expect to commission a 248-km link between Palanpur and Samyakhali by March 2006. The other 66-km link between Samyakhali and Gandhidham is expected to be commissioned by 2006-end," he said. Moreover, in a longer term, KRCL would also consider transporting double stack containers on its lines.

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