The project faced several engineering challenges, such as challenging terrain, varying soil types and flooding during monsoon season. This required the use of different types of foundation and construction techniques to ensure the stability of the railway line and the construction of a robust drainage system to protect the railway line from damage.
A key challenge for SMEC was ensuring that the electrified railway system integrates seamlessly with the broader railway network and that ongoing maintenance is efficient. This included overseeing the installation of electrification infrastructure, including overhead lines, substations.
SMEC was first appointed in 2009 at the planning and design stage, to prepare a detailed project report. The detailed project report was used by the Dedicated Freight Corridor Corporation of India to invite tenders for the construction. SMEC was subsequently appointed to deliver the design, installation, testing and commissioning the 25 kV AC overhead electrification system.
For the electrification SMEC ensured robust design and construction methods for the new electrification infrastructure. SMEC undertook thorough system integration planning and helped to develop a well-structured maintenance schedule, including predictive maintenance using data analytics, helping to improve efficiency and reliability.
Salient features of the Mughalsarai-Sonnagar section include:
- Double-Track railway: two parallel tracks, allow for the movement of trains in both directions simultaneously. Double-tracking enhances the capacity of the corridor. The East Central Railway (ECR) has added a third rail track to the three-km-long Dehari-Songar bridge on the Sone river in Rohtas district, the first in the country to have as many lines.
- The railway line is electrified to optimise energy efficiency and environmental benefits compared to diesel-powered trains and can accommodate heavy freight trains at speeds of up to 100 kilometers per hour (km/h).
- The project route passes through a number of areas with high rainfall and flooding potential. This required the construction of a robust drainage system to protect the railway line from damage.
- Sixteen major new bridges (over 30 metres) were constructed and 193 minor bridges.
- Three new stations (Karwandiya, Durgawati and New Ganj Khawaja) were in the states of Bihar and Uttar Pradesh in India. The stations are equipped with modern facilities, including tracks for loading and unloading freight, passenger waiting halls, and other amenities.
- State-of-the-art technologies have been deployed along the corridor, marking a quantum leap for the traditionally labor-intensive railways sector.
The Mughalsarai-Sonnagar section of the Eastern Dedicated Freight Corridor was inaugurated by Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi on December 29, 2021. It has become an important piece of the jigsaw in India’s freight strategy, increasing capacity and boosting economic growth.
Dedicated Freight Corridor Corporation of India (DFCCIL) Chairman and Managing Director Ravindra Kumar said,
“The Mughalsarai-Sonnagar section of the Eastern Dedicated Freight Corridor is a world-class infrastructure project that will transform the way freight is transported in India. It will help to decongest the existing railway network, improve fuel efficiency, and reduce transit times.”
Each kilometer-long freight train on the EDFC will replace some 72 trucks on average. This will ease congestion on India’s overcrowded roads and highways, which carry an overwhelming 60 percent of the country’s freight, and make the roads safer.
In a study on the overall impact of the eastern corridor, Martha Lawrence, Senior Transport Specialist, World Bank said,
“This pioneering initiative will be a game changer for India’s transport sector, moving India onto a greener growth path. It has the potential to make India a front-runner in rail freight operations, boosting the competitive edge of its manufacturers and producers.”
Eastern Dedicated Freight Corridor, (Mughalsarai-Son Nagar), India
The Dedicated Freight Corridor Corporation of India (DFCCIL)
2009 – 2022