AusRAIL, Market Sectors

Japan backs upgrading of Indian freight transport

<p>A new trade agreement between India and Japan could provide a welcome boost for India’s freight infrastructure, <em>Lloyd’s List</em> reported this morning from Mumbi (Friday, October 31).</p> <p>After a two-hour meeting last week between visiting Japanese prime minister Shinzo Abe and his Indian opposite number, Manmohan Singh, the two countries have also agreed to a currency swap deal, expected to be signed by the end of the year.</p> <p>Mr Abe said that Japan would consider sympathetically a yen loan for the Mumbai-Delhi dedicated freight corridor and look at the possibility of providing funds for the feasibility studies being done for the viability of the Delhi-Mumbai industrial corridor.</p> <p>The importance assigned by the Japanese to the dedicated freight corridor was underlined by NYK Logistics chairman Hiroshi Maniwa, who encouraged its construction when he addressed the India-Japan business seminar.</p> <p>&#8220Freight trains between Jawaharlal Nehru port, near Mumbai, and New Delhi operate at present at a woefully low speed of 35 km&#47h due to the constraints of using the same track as passenger trains,&#8221 Mr Maniwa said.</p> <p>&#8220Once the dedicated freight corridor comes up, the speed can be increased to 75 km&#47h. </p> <p>"Additionally, with the freight corridor route planned to support double-stack container movement, the efficiency should be up by four times.&#8221</p> <p>Ground level work on the rail freight corridor is, however, yet to start, with the railways still involved in land acquisition formalities and the vacation of several stay orders on the eviction of occupants granted by various courts.</p> <p>&#8220There are far too many bottlenecks in the Indian transport system, including state taxes, overloading, lack of punctuality, delays in customs clearance and high rail transport charges, all of which need to be addressed to make it easier for companies to function in the country,&#8221 Mr Maniwa saiid.</p> <p>&#8220If these problems were dealt with companies could adopt the just-in-time inventory principle and reduce their inventory levels by 10-15 days, resulting in significant cost savings.&#8221</p> <p>The two container terminals at Jawaharlal Nehru port were already functioning at full capacity, and the third terminal commissioned last year by AP Moller-Maersk was approaching that, he said. </p> <p>Tenders for a fourth box terminal were still in process.</p> <p>&#8220If capacity is not added quickly there will be over-utilisation, leading to bottlenecks,&#8221 he said. </p> <p>Inland container depots, faster customs clearance procedures and electronic data interchange were also needed.</p> <br />