Indian Railway Project

The Dedicated Freight Corridor that will Shape the Future of India

July, 2015

※Organizations and employees mentioned in this article reflect conditions at the time of this article’s publishing.

Sojitz is currently working together with India’s largest general contractor on the construction of a dedicated freight corridor connecting Delhi and Mumbai.
This high-speed rail will haul double-decker freight containers between India’s capital of Delhi and its commercial hub in Mumbai. Both the Japanese and Indian government expect the project will dramatically rework India’s logistics infrastructure—the key to the growth of the Indian economy.

January 2015 — Upon arriving in Delhi, Sojitz employee Keiichiro Suzuki is floored by the tangled streets and the way the vast number of people and automobiles gracefully maneuver around each other amidst the blare of car horns. It is now his fourth year since joining Sojitz. This is his first business trip abroad since moving from the Accounting Service Department to his current assignment, a long-sought-after seat in the Environmental Infrastructure Department’s Transportation Project Section.

“I wanted to do work involving infrastructure in developing and emerging countries. My dream is to help contribute to economic development in these countries through infrastructure construction, and luckily for me, I was able to join this department. That trip was my first time stepping foot on Indian soil, but the moment I did, my previously vague ideas about infrastructure being the key to realizing India’s economic growth suddenly crystalized into a commitment towards making this dream a reality.”

India’s “Paciffic Coastal Belt”

Sojitz has received two consecutive contracts to work on the Delhi-Mumbai dedicated freight corridor with India’s largest general contractor and general engineering company, Larsen & Toubro Limited (“L&T”). The first contract came in June 2013 for civil and track works, while the second was a contract for electrification works in November 2014. Ceaseless hammering continues to reverberate throughout construction site.

The project aims to construct a 1500km freight railway called the “Western DFC” 1※ extending from Dadri Station, just outside of Dehli, to India’s largest container port on the outskirts of Mumbai, JNPT Port 2※. Sojitz is responsible for civil and track works on the 626km-long first phase of the project and for electrification work on a 915km stretch of track.

High economic growth is anticipated for India given the country’s population of more than 1.2 billion and land area nine times that of Japan. The key to unlocking this growth, however, lies in figuring out how to solve the logistics problems posed by India’s yet-incomplete roads, railways, and other transportation infrastructure. Many are hoping this dedicated freight corridor will be the trump card they have been waiting for.

Suzuki explains the significance of the project: “Cargo volumes in India are rising by 15% per year, and it is thought that India’s existing railroads are quickly reaching capacity. The construction of the Western DFC should increase transport volumes for a single trip by 3 – 4 times and shorten the current 3 – 4 days necessary to move cargo from Delhi to Mumbai into a single day.”

Although there is already a train line connecting Delhi and Mumbai, Indian Railways currently has freight cars and passenger gars sharing the same track, having adopted a basic policy of prioritizing passengers and domestic transport of produce. This leads to a dearth of cargo-ready train engines during harvest season or during those times of year when people return to their family homes. Furthermore, most existing freight cars are diesel engines, and travel at an average 20 – 30 km per hour, causing unavoidable cargo delays.

This is where the Western DFC project comes in. It plans to achieve efficient cargo transport by constructing a new dedicated freight line parallel to the existing Indian Railways track, setting up automatic signal and communication systems, and introducing double-decker freight cars with an average speed of 100km per hour.

※1 Jawaharlal Nehru Port Trust
※2 Western Dedicated Freight Corridor

Planning a Dedicated Freight Corridor between Delhi and Mumbai

The Western DFC will extend over approximately 1,500 km from Dadri, a cargo station on the outskirts of the Indian capital of Dehli, to JNPT Port, India’s largest container port located just outside of Mumbai. Sojitz is responsible for civil and track works on a 626km length of track (from Rewari, Haryana to Vadodara, Gujarat) representing the first stage of the project, as well as electrification works for 915km of track (from Rewari, Haryana to Ikbalgarh, Gujarat).

In truth, the Western DFC is just one part of a larger, comprehensive industrial infrastructure project being promoted in joint cooperation between the Japanese and Indian Governments: the Deli-Mumbai Industrial Corridor (DMIC).

The DMIC is a regional development scheme created in collaboration between Japan and India. It seeks to utilize private investment to build industrial parks, logistics bases, power generation, roads, ports, houses, commercial facilities, and other infrastructure within a belt extending outwards from both sides of the Western DFC. This area around the freight corridor will serve as India’s version of Japan’s so-called taiheiyō belt, with the Western DFC as the core artery running through the heart of this industrial center.

The Dehli-Mumbai Industrial Corridor (DMIC)

The DMIC is a comprehensive industrial infrastructure development project promoted jointly by the Japanese and Indian governments. The design calls for an industrial belt to be built within a 150km diameter extending from both sides of the Western DFC. The project is already working on establishing 24 special industrial zones within this area, including industrial parks, logistics bases, power plants, roads, ports, houses, and commercial establishments, to name a few.

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The Largest Yen-Based ODA Project in History

May 2015 — Suzuki listens intently to the voice coming through the huge monitor in the Transportation Project Section’s regular meeting room. Located on the 22nd floor of Sojitz’s Tokyo head office, the meeting room is regularly used to conduct TV conferences between the Indian and Japanese members working on the Western DFC project.

From the Tokyo side, the six members of the Transportation Project Sect. led by Manager Masayoshi Hirose; from India, members of the WDFC Project Office set up by Sojitz to promote the project, as well as related parties from partner company L&T. They discuss construction progress in detail.

The WDFC Project Office is located in Faridabad on the outskirts of Delhi. Osayasu Sano and Toshiharu Yagi from the Transportation Project Section have been assigned there alongside four Indian engineers. The six of them work on various on-site duties.

Sojitz and L&T work side-by-side as consortium leaders on the Western DFC, managing every facet of the project. Sojitz’s two contracts amount to \110 billion for civil and track works and \50 billion for electrification. The former of these is the largest ODA amount ever bestowed by the Japanese government; the latter is one of the largest single electrification projects in the world as well as being a massive yen-based ODA package. One more feature of the electrification works contract, however, is that it includes a provision calling for Japanese technologies to be utilized in the project (STEP※3). This means that a fixed percentage of items procured for the project must be of Japanese origin, and procuring these Japanese technologies is another one of Sojitz’s chief roles.

For the civil and track works, for example, Sojitz is tasked with procuring highly-resistant, heat-treated rails from Metal One, a Sojitz Group company. The electrification works, on the other hand, require Sojitz to purchase substation equipment and overhead electric wiring from Japanese manufacturers.

The most important of Sojitz’s duties is managing progress on the project. The company must confirm conditions at the job site each day to ensure that the project is proceeding according to schedule, and in the event of an unavoidable issue, clarify causes and coordinate a solution with related parties.

There’s weariness in Suzuki’s voice as he talks about progress management. “As far as whether the construction is proceeding as planned, well, the truth is that it is not proceeding the same way you would expect a similar project to develop in Japan. We often run into obstacles particular to India, such as the country’s frequent legal reforms and complicated tax systems, and these force us to amend our plans.

“But we manage to surmount each of these obstacles by combining the abilities of our section members with that of our partner, L&T. There is a sense of satisfaction and happiness to be felt seeing your dream gradually take shape through this process.”

A Sterling Record of Train Exports

Daegu’s Monorail

The Silverliner V in Philadelphia, U.S.A.

April 23, 2015 — Masayoshi Hirose, manager of the Transportation Project Sect., is in Daegu, a city situated at the center of South Korea’s southern half. He is there to attend the opening ceremony for Korea’s first metropolitan monorail. Sojitz Korea provided the operating system for the monorail, in partnership with Hitachi.

Daegu is the third largest metropolitan area in the country and has a population of 2.5 million people. This straddle-beam type monorail is the third public railway system for the city, chosen for its minimal impact on the existing landscape and usefulness as a means for tourists to get around the city. It connects the city center with the suburbs, shortening the 70 minute car ride to the city to a mere 48 minutes.

Hirose speaks with deep feeling looking back at that day, having been there to see the first train slide away from the station.

“Sojitz concluded the first railway export deal of the postwar period in 1956, shipping to Argentina. That was the beginning of Japanese railway technology’s worldwide popularity, and since then, Sojitz has gradually built a track record in export to countries around the world. Our cumulative total exports have now reached 12,000 train cars. I am deeply moved to know that through work on this public monorail project, we have added a new page to the history of trust that our forebears have built.”

Now, Hirose and his team are breaking through towards the future and new horizons.

“A railway infrastructure project like the freight corridor in India represents a kind of new business which has blossomed atop Sojitz’s sterling, nearly 60-year record of rolling stock exports. I hope that we can strengthen our efforts towards these kinds of railway projects, particularly in the growing Asian market.

“Furthermore, we aim to involve ourselves in other transportation infrastructure projects in the future, including port projects. In addition to the two Transportation Project Sect. members in India, we have two staff assigned to a liaison office in the U.S., and they are currently working out a scheme for our participation in a freight railway project in the country.”

《My dream is to help contribute to economic development in these countries through infrastructure construction.》

This dream belongs not only to Suzuki; rather, it is shared by all members of the Transportation Project Sect. and the Environmental Infrastructure Business Dept.

Project Members
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Masayoshi Hirose
Environmental Infrastructure Business Dept.
Transportation Project Sect.
Joined the company in 1992.
Gained a wide range of experience after that, working in fields such as medical, industrial machinery, automobiles, and plant businesses. Worked on a renewable energy project in Germany during his assignment to the country, and returned to Japan in May 2014, taking up his current position.

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Keiichiro Suzuki
Environmental Infrastructure Business Dept.
Transportation Project Sect.
Joined the company in 2011.
After two years of procuring capital from financial intuitions as part of the Finance Dept., he was transferred to the Accounting Service Dept. and put in charge of aerospace and infrastructure projects.
Transferred to his current position in November 2014.

WDFC Project Office
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Osayasu Sano (pictured center)
Environmental Infrastructure Business Dept.
Transportation Project Sect.
Joined the company in 1997.
Oversees local operations as the head of Sojitz’s WDFC Project Office and representative for the Sojitz-L&T Consortium.
“My motivation comes from knowing that this railroad is going to appear on maps once it’s completed and leave its mark on history.”

Toshiharu Yagi (pictured 2nd from the right)
Environmental Infrastructure Business Dept.
Transportation Project Sect.
Joined the company in 2008.
Involved with the project since the bidding stage for the electrification works. Dispatched to the area in February 2015.
“Although we are still in the trial and error phase, I find my day-to-day work very fulfilling as I dream of success on future projects and future contributions to the Indian economy.”

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