JNPT rail push begins showing greater gains

JNPT rail push begins showing greater gains

The share of JNPT cargo entering and leaving the port by rail hit a year-to-date high in August.

Truck-to-rail freight conversion critical to easing terminal congestion is steadily picking up momentum at Jawaharlal Nehru Port Trust (JNPT), ostensibly thanks to the dual effect of greater stakeholder efforts and a rate equalization program.

New statistics collected by JOC.com, a product within IHS Markit, show the share of railed cargo at India’s largest public port during August increased to 17 percent from 15 percent in the prior month.

That progress is vividly reflected in an 8.5 percent year-over-year throughput rise at JNPT in the last month amid expectations of stronger growth on the back of technological advances to push productivity and a rebound in the country’s foreign trade, with exports up 9 percent during April-July in US dollar value over the same period last year.

By volume, JNPT handled 69,587 TEU during the month by intermodal train, out of total export-import traffic of 409,405 TEU, versus 61,383 and 402,001 TEU, respectively, in July. Of that, APM Terminals-operated Gateway Terminals India contributed 31,559 TEU, compared with 25,634 TEU in July.  

As a result, the share of August truck freight at the port fell to nearly 82 percent from 83.5 percent in July, or 335,262 TEU versus 335,500 TEU, despite that overall throughput growth.

Although the public port is still a long way from attaining a government goal of 25 percent rail share, shifting more freight from highways to the rails should be possible as authorities weigh plans to increase train services and work toward a common rail yard connecting all terminals to smooth quayside train handling.

Additionally, the port is making significant improvements in the number of imports moving via direct port delivery (DPD) services, another government initiative key to lowering container dwell times and lifting port productivity.

JNPT’s DPD volume reached 41,978 TEU during August, representing 30 percent of total imports, compared with 40,471 TEU, or a 28.5 percent share in the previous month, statistics obtained by JOC.com show. By terminal, August DPD volumes were as follows: APMT Mumbai at 19,494 TEU, up from 17,214 TEU in July; Jawaharlal Nehru Container Terminal at 14,313 TEU, down from 14,883 TEU; and DP World Nhava Sheva at 8,171 TEU, down from 8,374 TEU.

The DPD scheme, which allows pre-approved shippers to pick up their import goods direct from the wharf instead of routing via an off-site storage yard, should gain further speed in the months ahead with JNPT preparing to set up a common trucker pool for such traffic after a local court turned down the harbor trucker group’s plea challenging that move in a decision issued last month.

Terminals at JNPT together account for roughly 60 percent of the containers passing through major, or public, ports and about 40 percent of India’s total container trade. A new PSA International terminal, on which nearly 90 percent of work has already been completed, will increase JNPT’s capacity by 2.4 million TEU annually when it is scheduled to start operations at the end of the year.