APM Terminals Pipavav expands India rail on rising demand


APM Terminals Pipavav, a minor cargo harbor on India’s west coast, has ramped-up its rail connectivity with northern hinterlands to take advantage of rising demand from beneficial cargo owners.

The company, which ended the July-September quarter on a strong note, after previous declines, has established a new train service through state-owned intermodal logistics provider Container Corporation of India (Concor) to Kanpur, a key inland point in the Indian state of Uttar Pradesh.

A block train run with 90 TEU of polymer shipments from public enterprise GAIL (India) Ltd. kicked off the service and, as appropriately, the new train route has been named "the polymer express,” officials told.

“This [the new rail route] will help exporters and importers move their cargo faster and safely through an environment-friendly mode of transport,” said Keld Pedersen, managing director of APM Terminals Pipavav.

That rail expansion is said to bring the number of block train services to/from Pipavav to eight.

APM Terminals Pipavav, located about 150 nautical miles from Jawaharlal Nehru Port Trust (JNPT), reportedly hosts 10 weekly, mainline services, in addition to a fortnightly coastal loop and other ad-hoc calls.

With a recent 2.4 million-TEU capacity addition from PSA International at JNPT and large-scale terminal expansions by its nearby private peer Mundra, competition has intensified in the region. However, thanks to rail upgrades — including one connecting to the Vadodara Inland Container Depot — and vigorous trade outreach efforts, APM Terminals Pipavav has been able to prevent any market share loss to its rivals.

Even more significant: the company logged an average volume of nearly 80,000 TEU per month during the second fiscal quarter, compared with 65,000 TEU per month in the April-to-June period, to total 238,000 TEU and 195,000 TEU, for the quarters, respectively, according to the statistics. By month, second-quarter volume was: 85,571 TEU in July, 74,619 TEU in August, and 77,685 TEU in September.

As a result, the terminal has enjoyed stellar growth during July-September — up 22 percent from the prior three months and up an even more impressive 49 percent from a year earlier.

Further, the company, in its second-quarter earnings release, highlighted that it outpaced the combined 14 percent increase in volume handled by all west coast ports during the July-September period. “Our focus remains on providing value-added services to our customers,” the company stated.

An analysis of statistics for the larger private handler Mundra seemingly supports the aforementioned argument, as September volume there dropped to 354,295 TEU, from 371,988 TEU during August.

APM Terminals Pipavav has also been targeting other general cargo — such as dry bulk, liquid, and roll-on, rol-off traffic — to maximize capacity utilization and growth, amid a generally subdued market environment.

With 2,411 feet of quay, a 48-foot draft, and an 89-acre backup yard, APM Terminals Pipavav boasts a 1.35 million-TEU annual capacity. In addition, the port features good multi-purpose infrastructure, capable of handling 5 million metric tons (5.5 million tons) of dry bulk cargo, 2 million metric tons of liquid bulk cargo, and about 250,000 finished cars, annually.