Longest Electrified Tunnel in India: In what is being touted as a game-changer in commodity transport in the country, the Indian Railways has built the longest electrified tunnel in the country which is expected to save up to Rs 7.5 lakh per rake for the Railways. The tunnel is a part of a 112-km Obulavaripalli-Venkatachalam-Krishnapatnam Port line built at a cost of Rs 1,993 crore.
The single line, which was commissioned on June 25 this year, has significantly reduced the freight rate per rake for commodities such as coal, fertilizer, iron ore and limestone. The 6.6 km long tunnel, operational between Cherlopalli and Rapuru railway stations, has been built at a cost of Rs 437 crore. It has 44 trolley refuges and 14 cross-passages in a horseshoe shape. The tunnel was completed in a record 43 months.
At a time when the country is facing an economic slowdown, the new route is expected to ease the transfer of goods across the country. For coal, the difference in freight per rake varies from Rs 3 lakh to Rs 7.5 lakh. For fertilizer, the difference in freight per rake varies from Rs 1.5 lakh to Rs 2.5 lakh. For iron ore, the difference in freight per rake is about Rs 6 lakh. For limestone, the difference is about Rs 5.25 lakhs.
According to CH Rakesh, Chief Public Relations Officer (CPRO), South Central Railways (SCR), four commodities namely coal, iron ore, limestones, and fertilizers are being loaded on the freight trains from the Krishnapatnam port and deported to the western parts of the country. The freight trains move through the newly constructed BG line between Obulavaripalli and Krishnapatnam, which has the longest electrified tunnel built between the Cherlopalli and Rapur stations.
The official explained that this difference in cost saving for the freight operations of each these commodities is because of the new BG line between Obulavaripalli and Krishnapatnam port which now enables the freight trains to directly come straight from Venkatachalam. Earlier, when this line was not constructed, the freight trains had to take a longer route for travelling to the western destinations of the country. But now, with the tunnel in line, the distance has been reduced by 72 km between Venkatachalam and Obulavaripalli. This has reduced the travel time from 10 hours to five hours and the cost of freight operations on each of the commodities.
Besides cutting down the freight rate, the new line also reduces the travel time between different ports. Commodities transferred from Krishnapatnam Port can reach the hinterland in just five hours now. Krishnapatnam port generates a significant part of South Central Railway’s freight loading and after the commissioning of the new line, 12 goods trains — six from each side — are taking this line daily.
The new line, which is only for freight movement, would also provide the shortest path for the Chennai-Howrah and Chennai-Mumbai railway routes. The line would also congestion between passenger and freight trains in the Vijayawada-Gudur-Renigunta-Guntakal section.