Companies face many hurdles at Rail Auto Hub

Five years since the Rail Auto Hub at Walajabad, near Kancheepuram, commenced operations several infrastructure challenges remain in and around this hub. Sources in the automobile industry pointed out that there are not many takers for this particular location.

Data shows that in the last five years, 29,685 vehicles have been sent out through this hub till January 2021. Of these, 24,838 vehicles were from Hyundai Motor India Ltd. (HMIL). In 2016, the Union Government in its railway budget said that Tamil Nadu will be getting the country’s first Rail Auto Hub for transportation of cars by rail.

“Despite Chennai being the Detroit of India, Hyundai is the only firm which has consistently and frequently using the facility since its inception. The volume of consignments from other firms is miniscule,” said a source, who tracks the automobile industry in Tamil Nadu. The reason is “the infrastructure is not up to the mark and there is a lack of marketing. Both Railways and the government should promote and market this space,” he said.

In terms of infrastructure, logistics firms and companies whom The Hindu spoke to said there were no proper approach roads for trailers or trucks. The area also lacked fencing. Locals freely entered the area. “Here is where the service providers have to depute security officials to avoid freight/vehicle damages,” a spokesperson of Renault Nissan Automotive India Private Ltd. (RNAIPL) said.

Single loading bay

“In several areas, there is a single loading bay, which results in trains waiting for unloading and loading. This leads to delayed schedules,” the spokesperson said.

A HMIL spokesperson said, “Considering the increased interest that not just Hyundai but other auto OEMs are evincing in this mode, a significant enhancement of the infrastructure in the hubs — increased storage space for cars, more lines for loading/unloading multiple rakes simultaneously, surveillance towers for increased security and amenities for the workers can help facilitate greater utilisation of this significant mode of transportation.”

The HMIL spokesperson said the Railways had responded favourably to such representations and had assured that these would be looked into.

Railway officials said work was on to extend the line. The 478 m line would be extended by another 200m. The yard can accommodate 16 NMG wagons and there was a proposal to extend it up to 25 NMG wagons.

Eco-friendly transport

The HMIL spokesperson said, “Apart from being more convenient (supporting bulk loads movement) and faster to reach the customer, it is an eco-friendly mode because of the drastic reduction in carbon emissions.

At present, around 14% of our total domestic volumes of cars are despatched through the railway mode.”

Hyundai had actively pursued railway-based logistics as a ‘green’ and efficient mode of transporting its cars. The RNAIPL spokesperson said, “One of the important aspects is that the lead time has reduced from 6.5 days to now 4 days. This has resulted in a cost benefit of approximately 4% to 8% depending on the destination compared to the road.”

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Printable version | Feb 28, 2021 9:31:36 PM |

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