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Tuesday, Jun 18, 2002

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Indfex II to provide link with N. China

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CHENNAI, June 17

THE Indfex (India-Far East Express) consortium on Sunday launched the Indfex II service, a direct mainline (large vessels plying long distances) container service between Chennai and the Northern Chinese ports.

In June last year, the same consortium launched Indfex I, a direct main line container service between Jawaharal Nehru Port (JNP), Mumbai, and the Southern Chinese ports.

Mr Vedprakash P. Goyal, Union Minister of Shipping, formally launched the service at a function here on Sunday.

The Indfex II service commenced on Sunday with Shipping Corporation of India's (SCI) container vessel, Indira Gandhi, leaving the Chennai port on her maiden voyage to China carrying 440 export containers on board. The vessel's capacity is 1,800 boxes.

Similarly, a few days ago, Howrah Bridge belonging to Kawasak Kisen Kaisha Ltd (Kline), Japan, left Hong Kong and is expected to be in Chennai on June 22, sources said.

The Indfex consortium comprises the State-owned SCI, Dongnama Shipping Co Ltd, Seoul, Kline and Pacific International Lines, Singapore.

The starting up of Indfex II service is yet another step towards the Government of India's proposal to make Chennai the east coast container hub of India, (like JNPT on the west).

The first measure was the privatisation of the Chennai container terminal, handed over to Chennai Container Terminal Ltd (CCTL), a special purpose vehicle of P&O Ports, Australia, last year.

For Indian shippers, a major advantage from main line vessels calling Chennai would be the savings in transhipment cost of $25-$50 per box in ports like Singapore, Hong Kong and Port Klang.

At present, feeder vessels shuttle in and out of the east coast of India, and all eastbound cargo including China from India are transhipped at two or three transhipment ports, an additional cost for the shippers.

The transit time is likely to come down by at least a week or 10 days, as containers need not wait at the transhipment ports, sources added.

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