TAMIL NADU

ChPT begins handling rail rake imports

CHENNAI MAY 22. The Chennai Port Trust has for the first time handled railway rake imports, a move in line with its emphasis on attracting more clean cargo and to offset the loss due to transfer of thermal coal cargo to the Ennore port.

The arrival of two sets of trains, each comprising two driver tractions and a similar number of motor car units along with accessories, by m.v. Chilean Express, on Wednesday, marked the beginning of a new chapter in cargo handling by the ChPT, according to its Docks Manager-Operations, P. Muthu. The port expected to handle a total of 56 such units (coaches) over the next six months.

Manufactured by the South Korea-based Rotem Company, each of the fully air-conditioned coach, weighing about 34 million tonnes, was 22.4-metre long and meant for the Delhi metro rail project. The train sets would be transported, in semi-knocked down condition, by road to Bangalore for assemblage and then moved by rail to Delhi.

The total cost of the cargo was around Rs. 64 crores and each car could accommodate up to 64 passengers, Mr. Muthu said, pointing to the enhanced marketing initiatives by the port to attract clean cargo and availability of good infrastructure. Hitherto, the ChPT handled only rail wagons, locomotive exports and passenger cars.

Earlier this month, the port announced that it was confident of handling 20,000 passenger cars this fiscal, compared to 8,000 vehicles last year. It is also hopeful of becoming the preferred gateway for export of vehicles from the stable of Volkswagen, if the German major set up its manufacturing unit in the State.

MoU with CPCL

Meanwhile, in a development that is a shot in the arm for the ChPT, the trust on Tuesday entered into a 30-year memorandum of understanding with the Chennai Petroleum Corporation Limited to facilitate crude oil receipts for the refinery at its facilities.

Its retention of the account ends speculation before the agreement with the CPCL, a group company of the Indian Oil Corporation. The CPCL earlier announced its intention to create crude handling facilities at the Ennore port, which were perceived to be comparatively cost-effective. The ageing of the pipeline and the cost and procedure involved to replace it was also cited as another reason.

The ChPT, however, responded with what its officials describe as "attractive" tariff concessions. As per the MoU, signed by the ChPT Chairman, P. Baskaradoss, and the CPCL Managing Director, S.V. Narasimhan, it would handle crude oil receipts, for both the existing 6-million tonne refinery and the proposed 3 million tonne expansion at a concessional wharfage.

A ChPT communique said the CPCL was planning to replace the existing 30-inch diameter pipeline with a 42-inch diameter pipeline, which would run along the proposed quadrilateral road network from the port to the Ennore Manali highway. The refinery assured a minimum traffic of 7 million tonnes per annum in the current fiscal, 8 MMTPA in 2004-05 and 8.5 MMTPA from 2005-06 onwards.

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