India’s railway minister Mamata Banjeree laid the foundation for the country’s first automobile logistics hub in Shalimar, West Bengal last Saturday. It will be the first of 15 such hubs to be established across India as part of a drive to increase automotive rail freight to 15% (from 2% currently) by 2016, according to the government.
The first phase of building will see similar set ups taking place at Santragachi, Siliguri, Ranchi, Guwahati, Patna and Hosur (Karnataka). A further eight hubs are planned in phase two of the project at Ernakulum, Vijayawada, Delhi cantonment, Chandigarh, Palakkad, Kharagpur, Challapalli and Kalamassery.
Indian Railways will provide land to automotive manufacturers aiming to establish themselves at the hubs with room for ancillary activity under a public private partnership. The hubs will serve as vendor parks and provide scope for pre delivery assembly facilities.
Several carmakers were present at the foundation ceremony, including Maruti, TVS, Hyundai, Hero Honda and Tata Motors.
At the foundation ceremony Banerjee said that she welcomed major automotive companies who wanted to invest in the Shalimar hub. “I welcome you to the logistic hub, to the auto hub and also for setting up joint ventures with the railways.”
She also stated that a separate committee had been set up for looking after the public-private partnership ventures proposed by the ministry. “We have land,” she added.
That admission may ring an ironic bell with Tata which last year was forced to scrap its Nano plant project in West Bengal under pressure from Banerjee who was then leading the Trinamool Congress and spearheading protests against the factory.
The hub in Shalimar, which is expected to generate annual revenue of Rs 1,000 crore ($20 billion), will serve as a local distribution centre for plants across the country and as blueprint for the following hubs at major railways zones in India.
“After this, we will set up hubs at Siliguri, Guwahati, Chennai, Pune, Mumbai, Ahmedabad, Kerala, Bangalore and Delhi as a pilot project in collaboration with the Society of Indian Automobile Manufacturers (SIAM),” said Banjeree.
Indian Railways expects to earn around Rs1,500 crore per year from the centres.
The organisation is also working toward the use of a double-deck rail wagon for movement of vehicles designed by French provider Arbel Fauvet Rail (AFR). The design has been shared with a selected and approved Indian wagon manufacturer but no official announcement on which company that will be has yet been made.
As reported last February by Automotive Logistics News, AFR was working with India’s Texmaco, the heavy engineering unit of KK Birla, and advanced engineering and rail logistics provider Focal Earth, to deliver the wagon to Indian Railways on a turnkey basis. Read more here.