Chennai rail link to ease congestion and respond to hinterland growth

SINGAPORE's PSA International's Chennai International Terminals (CITPL) has joined state-owned Container Corporation (Concor) to reintroduce a shuttle rail service to Tondiarpet, an inland container depot on the outskirts of Chennai, reports IHS Media.

Chennai, India's biggest east coast container gateway, has added rail links to meet rising hinterland demand, after a 16 per cent volume increase from that quarter in September.

"With the support of Chennai Port Trust and Customs, TNPM [Tondiarpet] will operate as an extended gate facility for CITPL, allowing cargo owners and shipping lines to deliver and pick up containers at TNPM. 

TNPM is closest to main cargo aggregation and distribution centres in the area,? said a communique. "This cuts trucking distances, reduces logistics costs, and is a more environmentally-friendly transport option." 

The revamped/upgraded rail link, which had its first train depart from Chennai on Monday with 80 TEU, is intended to speed freight handled via the government's two flagship supply chains - direct port delivery (DPD) for imports and direct port entry (DPE) for factory-stuffed exports.

The Chennai-Tondiarpet shuttle rail route was initially established in July 2015, and authorities then highlighted that as many as 40 cars would be needed - with transits ranging from three to 10 hours - to make up for a fully-laden train with a five-hour transit. This essentially meant that highway congestion would be less and that would provide considerable cost benefit for shippers.

Officials said in addition to incentives offered by PSA Chennai, exporters/importers using the train route will enjoy extended free storage times at Concor's rail yards - 45 days for laden containers and 90 days for empty boxes.

"This service will greatly help customers of Chennai Port and CITPL regarding fast and efficient movement of containers," said Chennai Port Authority chairman P Raveendran.

Said Concor's chairman V Kalyana Rama: "We are working hard to increase the proportion of cargo handled by rail at all PSA India terminals," said PSA India managing director Mike Formoso. He also expressed optimism that stakeholders will formulate and implement more proactive measures to enhance Chennai's service competitiveness.

Opened in July 2009, PSA Chennai has steadily emerged as the main contributor to volume moving via Chennai, representing 86,028 TEU in September, compared with 64,416 TEU at its peer DP World Chennai.