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The rail infrastructure between central India and east coast ports is adequate Mr. Lenin CGM, Container Corporation of India, Southern Region


The EXIM Trade in Southern India is extremely concerned over under utilization of port capacity in East Coast ports downward of Viskahapatnam in sharp contrast to over utilization of port capacity in West Coast ports. The country’s manufacturing sector is concentrated in northern and central parts of the country. The EXIM trade complains that the railway infrastructure from Central India to East Coast ports is woefully inadequate and rail tariff not competitive compared to rail movement to Western ports. In this segment freight trains have to share the railway lines used by passenger trains and hence the speed gets considerably reduced

The Central government is further beefing up the infrastructure in the North West Railway corridor by building a Dedicated Freight corridor from Mumbai to Delhi covering all the manufacturing states. But the industrial corridors currently at the drawing board stage between Visakhapatnam and Chennai and Chennai Bengaluru, ironically have no railway component.

Sagar Sandesh posed these questions to Mr. Lenin Chief General Manager Container Corporation of India, Southern Region, which transports containers by rail in a big way in the country. Mr. Lenin however maintains that the rail infrastructure between central India and east coast ports is adequate and that the tariff offered by his organization is competitive. He said the country’s industries are situated in Northern and Central parts of the country and they find it convenient to move the cargo through West Coast ports.

In reply to a question on the economics of rail transportation he said normally the rail transportation is cost effective if the lead is around four hundred kilometers. Manufacturing units in the North situated far away from the ports have the advantage of cost effective transportation through rail. The units in south being located close to the port have to rely on expensive road route.

Freight trains between Chennai and Hyderabad could not be sustained due to less patronage he said.

Container freight station sources in Chennai say that general cargo meant for Hyderabad from the far Eastern countries like Japan and China are handled in JNPT port while east coast ports can give tremendous freight advantage.  Lack of adequate rail connectivity between Chennai and Hyderabad has forced the trade to handle the cargo meant for Telangana capital through JNPT.

In the course of the interview Mr Lenin disclosed that the Chennai Port will soon have an extended gate to CONCOR Yard Tondiarpet where Direct Port Delivery cargo could be handled. Shuttle trains will be run between Chennai port and  CONCOR’sTondiarpet yard, a distance of eight kilometers twice day. The customs have issued a notification to facilitate handling of DPD at the COCOR”s yard. The move will help considerably reduce the movement of tractor trailers into Chennai port.

CONCOR, which operates freight trains at regular intervals between Chennai port and Bengaluru, will run similar service to Tuticorin port as well shortly from Karnataka capital on a regular basis.

The Elevated Corridor Project between Chennai Port and Maduravoyal,  once completed in the next three years will give a boost to Chennai Port’s  Container handling capacity said Mr Lenin in reply to a question.

 Question and answer session with Mr. Lenin Chief General Manager Container Corporation of India, Southern Zone

 Sagar Sandesh: Container Terminals in the West Coast Ports like JNPT, Mundra, Kandla are overworked while those in the East Coast are working at 50 per cent of their capacity. How do you think the regional imbalance could be corrected?

 Mr. Lenin: Industries in the country especially the manufacturing is situated in northern the central parts of the country. They find it convenient to move their cargo to West coast ports. 

SS: Do you think Railway Infra is adequate from Central India to East Coast ports and the tariff competitive as it is in the case of movement towards West?

 L: The Infrastructure is adequate and CONCOR is offering a competitive tariff.  CONCOR has already connected almost all Ports by rail with hinterland terminals.

 SS: Southern Railway General Manager has gone on record at a seminar in Chennai that hardly two million tons of cargo are offered by five major ports in Tamil Nadu and Kerala and host of minor ones out of 71 million tons handled by the Railway.  What are the reasons for the poor share of the railway in the freight basket from ports in the region? Can this situation improve over the years?  Or is this an all India phenomena.

 L: Most of the manufacturing industries are located in the northern parts of the country and the lead is more. Hence the rail mode is preferred as it is found economical.  In the southern parts, the distance of manufacturing zones to the Port is short and therefore road is playing a major role.  However, CONCOR with its presence in the ports is providing prompt services for rail transportation.

 SS: A private port player complained at a Shipping forum in the city recently that CONCOR insists on return cargo to run freight trains. Is it the reason why you are plying freight trains on a large scale on well established routes like Chennai-Bengaluru ? When do you plan to open freight trains to Coimbatore,Tuticorin and Hyderabad? . Railways share in freight emanating from the ports in the region remains mostly single digit compared to the road sector. How do you plan to improve the situation?

 L: CONCOR runs trains whenever there is a demand.  In Chennai-Hyderabad stream CONCOR was running regular schedules.  However, the schedule could not be maintained due to less patronage.   CONCOR is planning to commence train service between Bangalore and Tuticorin stream shortly.

 SS: What is your assessment of container traffic in the ports in Southern Region? What are the Traffic projections like, in coming years?

 L: The overall trend of container traffic in Ports is encouraging.  CONCOR’s share of traffic in the southern Ports like Vallarpadam, Tuticorin  and Chennai are improving.  As mentioned above, CONCOR will be commencing rail operations between Bangalore and Tuticorin Port. Recently, CONCOR has commenced movement of containers between Bangalore and New Mangalore Port.

 SS: Concor, Southern Region is planning to build a Logistics park near Mysore and link it to New Mangalore port. Can you give me the details of the Project?

 L: CONCOR has taken land in Kadakola (Near Mysore) for developing a Multi Model Logistics Park and the work is under progress.  It will be connected to New Mangalore Port and to Chennai Port depending on the demand of the trade. 

 SS: When will the extended port in Chennai port up to Tondiarpet become Operational? When will shuttle service from Chennai port to Tondiarpet carrying DPE and DPD cargo commence now that the customs formalities have been completed?

 L: Customs have issued a notification earmarking an area of 10 acres for DPE and DPD containers by rail.  CONCOR is in discussions with various stake holders and is planning to run two rakes a day initially. A highly competitive rail tariff has already been published.

 SS: Ennore- Manali Road Improvement Project (EMRIP) providing a four lane highway linking Chennai with Ennore ports along the coast is almost complete. In three years time the Chennai Port Madurvoyal Elevated corridor will be completed now that all the obstructions to the project have been cleared. Will this help to revive the container traffic to Chennai port which has since moved to Kattupalli Port?

 L: Once the elevated corridor is established, Chennai port will stand to gain.

 SS: Can you give me the particulars of the railway connectivity projects to

Kamarajar port in Ennore?

 L: Rail connectivity is already available at Kamarajar Port.  CONCOR has announced the rail tariff connecting Kamarajar Port with White Fields Depot and SNF.  Calling of container vessel is awaited at the Port.

 SS: How do you find operating from established ports like Chennai and the string of private ports like Krishnapatnam, Kattupalli or the hybrid port like Kamarajar in terms of efficiency and swiftness in operational parameters?

 L: CONCOR is running scheduled trains between WFD and Krishnapatnam Port.  Kattupalli is a road based port.  Kamarajar port, Ennore is yet to be tested. (No exim container vessel has been handled at the Adani terminal of the port so far)

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