`Rail freight charge in India one of the highest'

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Expensive connectivity


While the

charge per kilometre hovers around 7.9 cents in India, it is 5.5 cents in France, 3.7 cents in Japan, 2.6 cents in China and 2 cents in Canada

Compared to

Indian port charges, Singapore charges almost 50 per cent lower, Colombo almost 55-60 per cent lower and Dubai almost 65-70 per cent lower

New Delhi, July 12

Shipping sector experts on Wednesday stressed on the need to ensure faster, low cost hinterland connectivity from ports, apart from faster customs clearances, to ensure higher traffic on ports.

Moreover, they also felt that there should be a common regulator for all ports in the country instead of the present system where only the major ports are regulated.

Rail freight charge

The rail freight charge per kilometre is one of the highest in India compared to other countries, said Mr Sudhir S. Rangnekar, Director, Shipping Corporation of India Ltd.

"While the charge per kilometre hovers around 7.9 cents in India, it is 5.5 cents in France, 3.7 cents in Japan, 2.6 cents in China and 2 cents in Canada," Mr Rangnekar said, while speaking at a seminar on the port sector organised by the CII Institute of Logistics here on Wednesday.

Stressing on the need to have faster evacuation, Mr Rustom E. Dustoor, Chief Executive Officer, Nhava Sheva International Container Terminal, pointed out, "About 21 trains per day are required to evacuate the traffic at the JN port, against the present level of 13-14 trains."

High port costs

While cargo costs are lower, the port costs in India are very high. "The port costs in India are comparable with that charged by western European ports. Compared to Indian port charges, Singapore charges almost 50 per cent lower, Colombo charges almost 55-60 per cent lower and port charges in Dubai almost 65-70 per cent lower," Mr Rangnekar said, pointing out that several international ship-owners would not like to call upon Indian ports if they have a choice due to this reason.

He added that these costs are higher since the cost of capital dredging is charged to customers in India whereas internationally, only operational dredging costs are charged to customers.

More and more heavy goods such as iron ore, steel, petroleum products and cement are now getting containerised, pointed out Mr Rakesh Mehrotra, Managing Director, Concor.

In order to handle the targeted 20 million twenty feet equivalent unit (TEU) containers, Mr N.K. Raghupathy from Tuticorin Port Trust, said, "We would need about 90 berths to handle 20 million TEUs against our present level of 27 berths."

(This article was published in the Business Line print edition dated July 13, 2006)
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