The Container Corporation of India Ltd (CONCOR) has resumed a direct service, connecting its inland container depot (ICD) at Hyderabad with the terminal run by PSA International Pte Ltd at the Chennai Port Trust.
It was the first time in three years that the two cities had been directly connected by rail for freight purposes.
32 containers belonging to Ocean Network Express (ONE) carrying sunflower seeds and two APL containers carrying PVC boards left CONCOR’s Hyderabad ICD for PSA’s on-dock railhead at the Chennai terminal. From there, the containers were loaded on the vessel ‘Xin Pu Dong’ run by ONE on the TE1 service bound for Manila.
In a similar development, a rake of 90 empty containers belonging to ONE departed PSA Mumbai’s railyard at Jawaharlal Nehru Port Trust (JNPT) on May 08 for CONCOR’s ICD at Hyderabad, a move aimed to support exporters in Hyderabad. The containers were first trucked to PSA Mumbai railyard from nearby depots.
“CONCOR terminals functioned without any interruption during the lockdown period, helping not only EXIM trade but also movement of essential commodities across India. Extension gates at Chennai and Mumbai, 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,” CONCOR Chairman and Managing Director V Kalyana Rama said.
“One more good achievement is the starting of Hyderabad-Chennai service after a long gap of more than 3 years. This will help exporters and importers of Hyderabad region,” Rama added.
PSA Chennai and PSA Mumbai 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 Chennai, PSA Kolkata and PSA Mumbai hit record highs in terms of the percentage of cargoes arriving or departing via rail at 23.2%, 10.8% and 21.5% respectively
“Rail has played an essential role in ensuring freight continues to move nationwide, especially given the shortage of trucks and staff. By playing our part together with other stakeholders, we aim for higher levels of rail utilisation as the norm, not an exception, under these unprecedented circumstances,” PSA India Managing Director Mike Formoso said.
“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 maintained.
PSA terminals are operating normally, with added safety precautions in place to protect its staff and port users. Storage utilisation remains within limits: there are no delays in vessel berthing or in handling of outside transport. Evacuation via truck to CFS and by rail is also taking place.
“We express gratitude and appreciation to all our stakeholders, particularly Customs, Railways, the Port Trusts where we operate, CONCOR, CTOs, neighbouring CFSs and ICDs as we work closely alongside each other to keep trade moving,” Fermoso expressed.