Moving towards multimodal transportation

Surendra Sharma

India has never truly used the advantage of its natural resources. Development has remained concentrated to certain pockets of urban and industrial area. Connectivity also has been mainly for passenger by rail and goods transport by road. Inland water ways, coastal shipping and combination through multi- modal were not developed. With the result India’s national highways network which is just 2 % of the country’s total road network carry 40 % of the country’s traffic. India’s railways daily carry 18 million passengers and two million tons of cargo. All this is to change in the coming years with the NDA government having laid the ground work for developing multi modes of different economic and environment friendly transport.

  1. Western and Eastern Dedicated Freight Corridor projects linking NCR region with Mumbai /JNP in the west and Kolkata in the east. Western DFC to be completed by 2020. This will not only double the length of the container trains from 700 meters to 1,500 meters but also convert it from single to double stack which will lead to more containers being moved in a single train. This will free existing overburden rail tracks for more passenger trains.


  1. Inland Waterway Authority of India for the first time has got approval to develop 111 inland waterways subject to feasibility of cargo. NW01 covering river Ganga from Varanasi– Kolkata is being developed as an economic corridor with bunkering terminals, cargo hubs and multi- modal logistic village near Varanasi which will facilitate transfer of cargo from eastern DFC to road and inland waterway. Fourteen new different types of inland barges /ships are being built which has been designed by DST Germany to move cargo, automobiles, passengers etc. Thirty-seven more inland waterways will be developed in the next three years.


  1. The Government has granted in principle approval for construction of 18 Greenfield airports in the country. These will cover small and medium cities and are to be executed and financed by the respective airport promoters. Investment of Rs 30,000 crore (US$ 4.66 billion) is envisaged for the same.


  1. Bullet train between Mumbai – Ahmadabad is set to be inaugurated during 12- 14 September 17 when the Japanese Prime minster visits India. The 505 km route will be mostly elevated with 21 km passing through tunnel under the land /sea. This would be extended to Delhi in the next phase. Other corridors being considered include Delhi – Kolkata, Kolkata – Mumbai via Nagpur and Kolkata to Chennai. This would also free up traffic from the existing railway networks.


  1. Government to develop 50 economic corridors, upgrade feeder routes, develop 35 multimodal logistics parks with storage and warehousing facilities and build 10 inter-modal stations to integrate various transportation modes.


It has been in the agenda of successive governments to reduce the traffic load from road transport to economical and environmental friendly coastal and inland waterways or rail transport. With the present eco-system covering policy, infrastructure, last mile connectivity, ships designs and rules being put in place, we hope that India can have dedicated scheduled logistics multi-modal movement. Multi- modal will enable cargo movement from Delhi to Gujarat by train and further to Kerala by ship. The last mile connectivity covered by road, all in a scheduled and time bound manner with prescribed tariff rates.

(The author is a leading writer on logistics and infrastructure issues)

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