Concor may soon lose monopoly on India-Nepal cargo movement

Mamuni Das New Delhi | Updated on June 14, 2019 Published on June 14, 2019

Nepal believes that introducing competition for Concor by allowing private container train operators will lower freight charges, making its imports cheaper   -  istock.com/teppakorn tongboonto

Container Corporation of India (Concor) may lose its right of being the only player to move container trains between India and Nepal.

Nepal is optimistic that traders moving goods via container trains on the Indo-Nepal route will get non-Concor choices as well.

The train-running protocol is decided by the India-Nepal Rail Service Agreement (RSA) that was reviewed a few days ago. Nepal’s Himalayan Times quoted officials there of stating that the two sides have agreed to allow private container train operators as well. Indian officials have clamped up on the issue.

In 2004, when the RSA was finalised, Concor happened to be the only container train operator. In 2006-07, Indian Railways opened up the market, allowing other operators to run container trains.

This had several companies — including those backed by Adani Group, Port of Singapore Authority and Dubai Port World, among others — entering the fray.

Since then, the agreement has not been changed to allow new operators. Nepal has raised concerns on the quality of service provided by Concor. India’s Association of Container Train Operators (ACTO) has also sought the opening up of the route for all operators.

Level playing field

Nepal believes that introducing competition for Concor will lower freight charges, making its imports cheaper.

The ACTO has been pushing its cause, citing the “level playing field clause”. However, the contract signed by container train operators with the Railways states that they are allowed to operate within India. The container depot to which the Nepal-bound trains run is located in that country.

Resists move

Industry sources say the Indian Railways has earlier resisted moves to open up the route to private container train operators.

The monthly traffic between India and Nepal comprises 13-14 container trains each way. These trains carry goods including food, clothes, building material, cement, furniture, wood, crockery and cutlery to Nepal.

Interestingly, the 2004 RSA,, which named only ‘Concor/Railways’ as the train operator from India, was signed by LR Thapar, then Additional Member (Traffic), Railway Board, Indian Railways.

Thapar subsequently joined private container train operator Hind Terminals, heading it operations, after the sector was opened up.

Hind Terminals earlier tried bagging the right to operate the container depot located in Nepal, which is decided upon through competitive bidding.

Published on June 14, 2019
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