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i-maritime news letter

Arshiya Rail's Chennai-Bangalore weekly run may cut backlog at port - 2011-12-26


Companies engaged in containerised trade out of Chennai port now have the option of using a private player to move import and export containers through rail.
Arshiya Rail Infrastructure Ltd, a subsidiary of Arshiya International Ltd, is the first private container train operator to commence export-import container operations on the Chennai-Bangalore circuit. So far, only the Railway arm Concor offered this service. The Mumbai-based company, Arshiya, commenced its rail service from PSA Chennai, the second private container terminal, run by PSA International of Singapore. Arshiya moved the import boxes to Pearl Container Terminal, Whiltefield, Bangalore, and vice-versa for exports. PSA Chennai terminal has a rail siding. Mr Sajal Mittra, Chief Executive Officer of Arshiya Rail, said that initially it is a weekly service and there is a plan to increase the frequency once the volume picks up. In the first service, on December 8, there were 15 containers while the entire rake can take 90 containers. Shipping lines need some time to inform their customers on the new service, and diverting from road to rail, he said. Arshiya has a licence to operate a pan-India rail service offering rail infrastructure, including rakes, customised containers, new sidings, pan-India network, and superior connectivity. ―Getting clearances from various agencies took some time to start the operations,‖ he told Business Line. For the trade, the Chennai service gives an alternative, and a choice to use another container freight station. Also, the quick movement reduces the pendency at port. The rates will match that of Concor. Depending upon the weight (in 20-tonne container), sending cargo by rail could cost between Rs 9,700 and Rs 13,300 while it could be Rs 14,500 and Rs 16,000 by road, he said. Arshiya, currently, has 15 freight trains in service spread pan-India. It already runs a rail service between Ahmedabad and Bangalore with 3-4 rakes a month.
Mr Mittra said the company also plans to run a similar service between Bangalore and Kochi, and Bangalore and Tuticorin. It will form tie-ups with companies that have the necessary infrastructure, including a container freight station. The company has invested on having a network of 16 rakes of its own with each rake costing Rs 12 crore. The company paid Rs 50 crore for the pan-India licence, he said. The potential of Railway privatisation has still not been harnessed completely and a lot more needs to be done for India to make rail a preferred mode of freight movement considering the fact rail is 30 per cent more economical and can carry in excess of 2,430 tonnes of cargo for a rake. In contrast, a truck typically carries 27 tonnes.

Source: Hindu Business Line