August 18, 2014

Delhi-Mumbai Freight Corridor - A Project Management Perspective

              India is growing and to accelerate this growth India needs good and efficient infrastructure. To meet the standards of required infrastructure, the government of India has taken multiple positive steps and ‘Delhi-Mumbai freight corridor’ is one of the proposals. Delhi-Mumbai Freight Corridor (also known as Western Dedicated Freight Corridor) is a project announced by Ministry of Railways, India with the financial and technical aid of Japanese government under the Eleventh Five Year Plan (2007–2012). This freight corridor has a length of 1483 Km and has got approval in this year’s (2014) Railway Budget.

                                               A snapshot of Delhi-Mumbai Freight Corridor

          This is a huge project considering its benefits, size and sophistication. To bring this project into daylight, a great and dedicated effort is required. Consequently a detailed and effective project plan and later an effective project management is need of hour.
Coming to the main agenda of this article, we can break up the project of building the Delhi-Mumbai freight corridor into six phases or steps to run or manage the same in a better and effective way. If we refer to the below figure, the six principal phases or activity managing the project of delivering the Freight corridor will be Project initiation, Planning and design, Execution, Control, Validation and finally Delivery. During validation, if something goes wrong or something is needed to be improved, then again planning is required and subsequently things are executed, controlled and revalidated.


                                                   Various stages of project Management

Initiation: At the beginning, a competent project manager who has the ability to drive the project maintaining the QCD (Quality, Cost, and Delivery) requirement has to be selected. A project manager has to be selected based on his past record of performance. As the freight corridor is a huge and unique project, so a highly experienced project manager should be employed to lead the project. A project manager should be a great initiator and thinker. In the initial stage he should clearly understand the scope, deliverables and output requirement of the project maintaining the timelines.

Planning and Design: After initiation of project, a team has to be formed by project manager or company’s top management based on the competency matrix available for execution of the project. In this stage, a detailed and most effective timeline for design, execution, validation and delivery is made and the deadlines for the delivery are made considering the feedback from cross functional team (CFT) members. This timeline should be circulated among the CFT members and if there is any change in the timeline, it has to be communicated to them. A detailed ‘Work Breakdown Structure’ (WBS) should also be prepared along with timelines and the work allocation to CFT members has to be based on the WBS. The project manager should be aware about budget allocation for this project to control the expenditures within the limit or to demand for more funds if the budget is insufficient. At this stage, project manager should organize the design review with the entire CFT members and finalize the design. After finalizing the design, the planning for sourced component requirement and selection of vendor is required to be completed. Project manager will give go ahead for starting the development, if the finalized design is acceptable to every cross functional team member. One of the main responsibilities of the project manager is to follow up the CFT members, take the latest update about the progress and continuously push them to meet the deadline.

Executing: In the stage of execution a project manager’s responsibility is to track the in-house product, process and other activity development status. Later he has to track the availability of the entire outsourced and in-house manufactured components for starting implementation. Significant concurrent engineering techniques have to be applied like giving go ahead to make the land ready for railway track, informing to the respective authority if any relocation is required, giving the requirement if any railway bridge is required etc. One of the main problems a project manager faces is receiving the newly developed part or components required to be sourced from outside vendor on time. To avoid this kind of issues during execution, a feasible timeline should be made at the planning stage and the project manager should keep a regular interaction with the vendor development team. The execution stage will be finished when all the activities like laying railway tracks, station work, trains, electricity and manpower to do the regular work required for railway operation are completed.

Control: In every stage of execution, the project manager will control the progress of every sub activity to meet the quality, cost, and delivery requirement. A project manager will coordinate with various departments and organize meetings to make everybody aware about status and future effort required to meet the deadlines. The control and communication activity of a project manager is the most important activity during the entire project. Any fault in control or communication can lead to failure of the project.

Validation: The tracks laid and the technology and trains used in Delhi Mumbai Freight Corridor are new to India. So a detailed validation of the entire system is required to establish confidence and to ensure the reliability for getting go ahead from the respective authority. The Project manager, collaborating with the technical and validation team, will organize the validation activity of the train, railway track and other required systems. If something goes wrong during validation or any improvement suggestion comes out, a meeting is to be organized with the CFT members for planning improvement and subsequent changes have to be incorporated. Another significant responsibility of a project manager is to maintain the documentation, which is very important to track the project and to record all the completed activity. A better documentation in any project helps to easily face the audit. This also helps the change management process in future if required. If the validation reports are accepted by the respective authority, the project manager will release the green report for making the project ready to deliver.

Delivery: After completion of all the planned activity which included initiation, planning, design, development, execution, validation and successfully releasing green report, the project manager will deliver the freight corridor to the Railway Board of India for starting daily operations.

 A project manager controls the planning and execution and if something goes wrong then holding the activity, rectification, tracking the development status, synchronizing the perception of every CFT members and reminding them the deadline. Every project is unique and has different challenges in every step. So, a project manager should have the ability to face all the challenges and to deliver the project maintaining the QCD target. A project manager should be an efficient communicator, good listener, motivator, self learner, dynamic and should have the imagination ability. He should accept the failure and has to overcome the failure and yes of-course should not forget to celebrate the success.

         The article is written by Arijit Hawlader. He is a mechanical engineering graduate and is currently student of PGP 2014-16 batch. He has work experience of 46 months in Tata Auto comp Systems Limited.He can be reached at

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