Inter-terminal transfer of boxes at JNPT boosts rail volumes in August

P Manoj Mumbai | Updated on September 13, 2019

The new system took effect from August after the port authority brokered a deal on inter-terminal rail handling operations with all the five container terminals at the port

The Jawaharlal Nehru Port Trust, the country’s busiest container gateway, handled a record volume of rail containers in August after the port authority brokered a new deal on inter-terminal rail handling operations among all the five container terminals at the port which took effect from August 1.

JNPT’s inland container depot (ICD) rail volumes hit 70,398 twenty-foot equivalent units (TEUs) in August from 68,374 TEUs in July.

From January 2019 till date, JNPT’s rail volumes have touched 514,694 TEUs.

The new deal on inter-terminal transfer of containers was signed in late July, ending a feud between Bharat Mumbai Container Terminals (BMCT) — a new facility opened by Singapore’s PSA International Pte Ltd at JNPT in February 2018 — and older facilities such as the ones run by Dubai’s DP World (Nhava Sheva International Container Terminal and Nhava Sheva (India) Gateway Terminal (NSIGT) and Denmark’s APM Terminals Management BV (Gateway Terminals India).

Unique handling system

The inter-terminal transfer of containers is a system unique to JNPT, wherein container train operators run mixed trains that carry boxes designated for more than one container terminal.

It is the responsibility of the other terminals to send their trailers to fetch the containers from the “handling terminal” and move it to their respective terminals for further loading onto ships, according to the arrangement mutually agreed by all the terminals before PSA started operations at JNPT.

The same process is followed for the import cycle also.

After BMCT started operations, containers arriving on mixed trains at railheads other than the one at BMCT but destined for BMCT, were not cleared and delivered by other terminals.

Similarly, containers arriving at BMCT’s railhead but destined for other terminals are not collected by the other container terminal operators at all, compared to how they collect, clear and deliver such containers amongst themselves.

Therefore, BMCT used its own trailers and at BMCT’s own cost, to collect its containers and arriving at the railheads of other container terminals and to deliver containers destined for the other terminals and arriving at the BMCT rail terminal.

Trucking charges

Under the new agreement, container terminals will bill shipping lines as per the existing charges (₹400 per TEU) approved by the Tariff Authority for Major Ports (TAMP) in 2007.

Besides, BMCT will pay an extra ₹500 per TEU to other terminals to compensate for the extra trucking distance they undertake to fetch containers arriving at BMCT.

The rail terminals of the older terminals are in close proximity to each other, whereas BMCT rail lines are at an average distance of 5 km from others.

“The new agreement has improved the competitiveness of JNPT terminals and increased both rail utilisation and overall volumes,” a port official said.

“The cooperation of all parties on trucking and transfer and removal of procedural obstacles have provided a boost both in volumes and JNPT’s attractiveness. The shipping lines won’t have to worry about rail connections or being hit with extra charges,” a trade source said.

“It’s also good for the container train operators (CTOs), particularly when tracks at other terminals are full, the likes of Concor send lots of trains to BMCT carrying full of boxes for other terminals which created issues previously when others did not want to collect,” an executive at one of the container train operating firms said, adding that the new agreement “is working well to the benefit of trade.”

Published on September 13, 2019

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