Concor re-starts direct service linking Hyderabad with PSA’s Chennai terminal

P Manoj Mumbai | Updated on May 09, 2020 Published on May 09, 2020

Privatisation of Concor which is 54.8 per cent-owned by the central government, is expected to draw marquee investors. Representative image   -  istock.com

Rail rises to the occasion as trucks were off roads due to lockdown

State-owned Container Corporation of India Ltd (CONCOR) has re-started a direct service linking its inland container depot (ICD) at Hyderabad with the terminal run By PSA International Pte Ltd at Chennai Port Trust after more than three years.

The resumption of the direct service is the strongest indication yet that rail is increasingly been used by the export-import (EXIM) trade to move cargo amidst a nationwide lockdown that has led to shortage of trucks and drivers. It also suggests that rail is raising its game to grab a bigger chunk of the modal mix (rail and road) for transportation of containers to and from the ports.

On Friday, a rake carrying 32 export containers of sunflower seeds from Ocean Network Express (ONE) and 2 containers of PVC board from APL travelled from CONCOR’s Hyderabad ICD to PSA’s on-dock railhead at the Chennai terminal. The containers will be loaded on the ship “Xin Pu Dong”, run by ONE on the TE1 service bound for Manila.

In a separate yet related development, to support exporters in Hyderabad , a rake of 90 empty containers also belonging to ONE, departed from PSA’s railyard at Jawaharlal Nehru Port Trust (JNPT) near Mumbai on Friday for CONCOR’s ICD at Hyderabad. The empty containers were first trucked to PSA’s JNPT railyard from nearby depots.

CONCOR’s inland depots has been operating without any interruption during the lockdown period which not only helped the EXIM trade but also movement of essential commodities across India, said V Kalyana Rama, Chairman and Managing Director of CONCOR.

“Opening of extension gates at Chennai Port Trust and JNPT, a new concept, which started during this period with the support of Customs, Ports and Railways, not only kept ports fluid but also increased rail share,” he said.

“The re-starting of Hyderabad-Chennai service after a long gap of more than three years will help exporters and importers of Hyderabad region,” he added.

Rail shipments

PSA’s terminals at Chennai Port and JNPT have seen an increase in rail shipments from Hyderabad after a 2019 trade meet held by PSA India in the city.

In April 2020, PSA’s terminals at Chennai, Kolkata and JNPT hit record highs in terms of the percentage of cargoes arriving or departing via rail at 23.2 per cent, 10.8 per cent and 21.5 per cent, respectively.

“Rail has played an essential role in ensuring freight continues to move nationwide, especially given the shortage of trucks and staff,” said Mike Formoso, Managing Director, PSA India.

“We aim for higher levels of rail utilisation as the norm, not as an exception, under these unprecedented circumstances. Beyond the very welcome concessions from Indian Railways, CONCOR and other container train operators, as well as new solutions such as Extension Gate, we hope for a major structural review in the pricing of rail container haulage, to encourage a more permanent modal shift,” Formoso said.

“All our terminals are operating normally, with added safety precautions in place to protect our staff and port users. Storage utilisation remains within limits: there are no delays in vessel berthing nor in handling of outside transport. Evacuation via truck to container freight stations (CFS) and by rail is also taking place,” he said adding that all the stakeholders, particularly customs, railways, the port trusts, CONCOR, container train operators, CFSs and ICDs were working closely to keep trade moving.

Published on May 09, 2020

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