Align Delhi-Mumbai expressway with rail corridor, say experts

An expressway between Delhi and Mumbai — for which the government has said a fresh alignment will be announced soon — will be a success if it is planned in sync with the western rail freight corridor, according to experts.

Seamless entry and exit points, along with connectivity with the upcoming rail corridor, would ensure the success of the project, they say.

Some other expressways, announced by Union Road Minister Nitin Gadkari some time ago, should wait for the highways to reach optimum traffic before work starts on new alignments.

“First the existing highways need to be optimally utilised so that operating them is viable for investors and does not lead to overlapping investment,” an expert said.

Gadkari on Tuesday announced the government was looking at fresh alignments for the Delhi-Mumbai expressway to connect the Baroda-Mumbai expressway, which is in the works.

The government feels that an economic corridor connecting the Baroda-Mumbai expressway makes more sense than a fresh alignment on the parallel road connecting Mumbai.

Source: Ministry of Road Transport and Highways
“About 80 per cent of goods traffic goes by rail even though the logistics cost the railways incurs is seven-eight times higher than the roads do. Therefore, if the government and the National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) can assure seamless movement and connectivity with the freight corridor, it would be a hit,” said Adil Zaidi, partner, economic development and infrastructure advisory, EY. The new alignment is expected to pass through major cities in Haryana, Rajasthan and Gujarat.

National Highway 8 is considered one of the busiest highways in North India because it connects Delhi and Mumbai with cities such as Gurgaon, Jaipur, Ajmer, Udaipur, Ahmedabad, Vadodara, and Surat falling on the way. Besides the new alignment, the minister last year announced an expressway from Delhi to Katra via Amritsar. The proposed expressway is expected to cater for pilgrims going to Vaishno Devi in Jammu and Kashmir and the Golden Temple in Amritsar. However, the proposal may be reconsidered because there are highways in Punjab — Amritsar-Bathinda and Amritsar-Ambala — where traffic is yet to reach its optimum level.

“There is no such need for another highway,” an official said, adding that the focus should be on building roads that did not have access to highways.

Zaidi added, “For a distance between 500 and 800 km the railways makes more sense.”

The distance between New Delhi and Amritsar is around 450 km and that between Delhi and Katra more than 650 km.

Business Standard is now on Telegram.
For insightful reports and views on business, markets, politics and other issues, subscribe to our official Telegram channel