New rates effective April 1

Mamuni Das

New Delhi, March 28

With the recent Supreme Court order prohibiting overloading on trucks, the Railways has brought about the maximum hike in haulage charges of higher load containers. The recent hike in haulage charges appears to have been driven by an assumption that higher loads are unlikely to move by road, according to industry experts.

The Railways has decided to bifurcate the haulage charges for containers based on their gross weight - over 20 tonnes and below 20 tonnes.

Currently, the Railways charges uniform rates irrespective of weights. The new haulage rates would come into effect from April 1. The Railways collects haulage charges for letting container operator(s) use its infrastructure such as tracks and signalling system.

On the Exim traffic transportation, by and large there is a five per cent increase for below 20 tonne traffic across sectors.

But for moving containers of over 20 tonne load, the haulage rates have gone up by much higher levels. The maximum increase in haulage cost has been brought about in haulage charges of low-distance, high-load container movements.

For example, for transporting international goods of over 20 tonne gross weight containers, in the 351-400 km distance segment, Concor would have to pay 84 per cent higher rates to the Railways.

Thus, heavy container movement by rail to Aurangabad inland container depot (ICD) and Whitefield (Bangalore) ICDs from the nearest ports are likely to get dearer.

Similarly, in the over 20 tonne category, the rates on Tughlakabad (Delhi)-Jawaharlal Nehru Port route have moved up by about 35 per cent, whereas those for Tughlakabad-Mundra has moved up by 37.5 per cent.

The haulage charge for Ludhiana-JNPT route is up by 33.6 per cent and rates for Ludhiana-Mundra port are up by 35 per cent. Moreover, the Railways has also introduced uniform haulage charges for domestic and export-import traffic. Currently, it charges different levels of haulage rates for domestic and Exim traffic.

The move is likely to result in an increase in charges for all users of containerised cargo if Concor decides to pass on the hike in costs. Also, the Railways has done away with the concept of levying wagon maintenance charges to Concor separately; it has now built in that charge into the hike in haulage rates.

However, the increase in rates would surpass the waiver in maintenance charges.

In November 2004, the Railways increased the charges by 15 per cent; in April 2005, the rates were further hiked by five per cent. Again in November 2005, the haulage charges went up by 15 per cent.

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(This article was published in the Business Line print edition dated March 29, 2006)
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