Third party logistics joint venture, APL Logistics Vascor Automotive, has placed orders with Indian freight car maker Texmaco Rail and Engineering for three rail rakes, with the first delivery expected in three months.

Each rake comprises 27 wagons and is capable of carrying 300 vehicles. The company will use the trains to transport finished vehicles across India for a range of OEMs, including Honda Cars India, which anticipates using one a week for exports (read more here).

APL Logistics Vascor is not releasing a figure on the investment, but it follows the company’s success in securing commitments from global carmakers for use of its AutoLinx service, which is planned to be operational by the middle of this year. AutoLinx provides fully covered, double decker rail wagons, which will be used to transport finished vehicles from carmaker plants on long hauls, as well as providing terminal handling and last mile delivery.

“The investment in the rakes is significant as it allows us to move closer to offering our customers in India another innovative solution in finished vehicle distribution,” said Bill Villalon, APL Logistics’ senior vice president of Automotive and chairman of the joint venture. “We are looking forward to operationalising AutoLinx and helping our customers address supply chain complexities, adding further value to their businesses.”

Read an in-depth interview with Bill Villalon in which he discusses the company’s plans for advanced rail services in India here

APL Logistics Vascor Automotive was the first international third party logistics provider to obtain the Automobile Freight Train Operator (AFTO) licence administered by Indian Railways. The AFTO licence provides an opportunity for logistics service providers to invest in rail transport and to market railway services, such as AutoLinx, to end users in the Indian automotive sector.

“APL Logistics Vascor Automotive is proud to be the first 3PL to enter this transportation segment," a spokesman for the company told Automotive Logistics. "This significant investment in the rail assets, as well as the enabling infrastructure, reflects our confidence in the future of the Indian automotive industry.”