PSA working to minimize rail impact on JNPT Hapag-Lloyd call

Hapag-Lloyd's Express Rome vessel.

Hapag-Lloyd's Express Rome vessel. Photo credit: PSA India.

Despite the rail imbroglio that forced Jawaharlal Nehru Port Trust (JNPT) and trade groups to intervene, PSA International-operated Bharat Mumbai Container Terminal (BMCT) is looking to maximize liftings for its first call from an India-Europe service that it wrested from rival APM Terminals’ Gateway Terminals India (GTI).

The terminal change took effect with the Express Rome, one of eight ships deployed in the weekly loop, berthing at BMCT on Monday. The Europe-Pakistan-India Consortium 2 service, also known as the Indian Ocean Service, has four vessels from Hapag-Lloyd, three from Hamburg Süd, and one from CMA CGM.

PSA India officials expect the 10,114 TEU Express Rome to load and discharge a total of about 3,700 TEU, after BMCT’s inaugural call from the Swahili Express service on Feb. 2, under a CMA CGM-Emirates Shipping Line vessel-sharing agreement, reportedly made about 650 moves.

Officials told JOC.com that exports planned for the current call include railed containers previously received via mixed train connections at other terminals, and that BMCT is working toward introducing dedicated, direct outbound trains destined for northern India hinterland locations this week.

“With one kilometer [0.62 miles] of contiguous quay, 16.5 meters of alongside draft, and six super post-Panamax cranes, BMCT can handle some of the largest container vessels afloat. Three more cranes will be in operation by July, increasing our capacity and enhancing our service offering,” said BMCT CEO Suresh Amirapu.

German liner Hapag-Lloyd looks to leverage the new terminal capacity to its advantage, and also said BMCT will provide a big push to the direct port delivery (DPD) program designed to reduce dwell times, as JNPT moves closer to a government target goal of 40 percent DPD share this fiscal year. “PSA is a trusted partner of Hapag-Lloyd and with this confidence, we have entrusted them to handle one of our premier services from India to Europe,” said Dheeraj Bhatia, managing director of Hapag-Lloyd India, commenting on the terminal change.

Industry sources told JOC.com that JNPT is interacting with all stakeholders to put an end to the stand-off between BMCT and neighboring terminals over handling of mixed trains.

That follows intense pressure from local port user groups, particularly the Mumbai and Nhava Sheva Ship Agents’ Association (MANSA). “Having arrived to this stage of achieving major development, it is requested that the port chairman and officials should prevail and ensure, for whatsoever reason, the operations are not adversely affected,” MANSA appealed in a letter to the port.

APM Terminals Mumbai and DP World Nhava Sheva, which has two facilities in JNPT, did not return JOC.com’s requests for updates on the rail dispute.

The Dubai-based terminal operator previously told JOC.com that it is keen on further improving ease-of-doing-business and on-time reliability, and that its efforts continue toward that direction with inter-terminal cargo transfers for customers at JNPT.

PSA, in a letter to the landlord port last week, came down heavily on APM Terminals Mumbai for what it called an “arbitrary, illegal” action to apply back-to-town charges on its railed containers gated in at GTI, citing concession obligations tied to common user infrastructure and services.

“These illegal extra charges are not levied on containers to any other terminals at JNPT, except BMCT, and the back-to-town designation does not in any way depict the activity,” the new operator stated.

JNPT represents nearly half of India’s total container trade, so any disruption or slowdown there can have far-reaching impacts on the emerging Asian economy. 

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