In the midst of all the noise about its joint venture with AirAsia, one interesting development involving the Tata Group has gone unnoticed.
It involves trains, not planes.
The Tata group has begun work on its first major contract from the ministry of Railways. The contract was awarded in January 2013. Group subsidiary Tata Projects Ltd, through a joint venture formed with the 800-million-euro Spanish civil construction company Aldesa Grupo, started work on the eastern Dedicated Freight Corridor Project in March 2013. Specifically, it is working on the 337 kilometre Khurja-Bhaupur stretch of the corridor, entirely in Uttar Pradesh.
The eastern Dedicated Freight Corridor stretches from Ludhiana in Punjab to Dankuni in West Bengal. The project's remaining tenders and contracts will be awarded later.
Jorge Ferrandiz Perez: Aldesa will be working with Tata Projects in other parts of the eastern freight corridor as well as in other freight corridors being planned in the country.(Photo: Nishikant Gamre)
"Around 82 per cent of the land has been acquired. Around 65 per cent of the new track will be along existing tracks," said Vinayak Deshpande, Managing Director of Tata Projects, speaking at a press conference to announce the commencement of work.
The Khurja-Bhaupur project is a Rs 3,300 crore order. Tata Projects, a Rs 3,000 crore company, has a Rs 14,000 crore order book of engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) contracts. The company does not get into public-private partnership projects.
"Railways is our newest business segment. Our biggest is power generation. We do not have plans to do development projects, which will be done by Tata Realty. Our focus will continue to be on EPC," said S.A.A. Irfan, Business Head, Railways, at Tata Projects, speaking to Business Today
Aldesa's Jorge Ferrandiz Perez, who is the project director, says the Tatas have been working with Aldesa on the freight corridor stretch for the last two and a half years. The company will be working with Tata Projects in other parts of the eastern freight corridor as well as in other freight corridors being planned in the country, he added. "Aldesa is present in markets like Mexico, Poland, Romania, Guatemala and Peru apart from Spain, which is our home country. We are also involved in developing high-speed trains in Spain," said Perez, who has been in India for the last year or so.