Auto industry urges Railways, Waterways authorities to meet Transportation Demands

Greater participation of railways needed to meet auto logistics demand: SIAM
Ashwani Lohani, Chairman, Railway Board, who was invited as the Chief Guest at the Conclave, assured the industry that he is trying to bring in culture of work at Railways and has initiated the process of reforms.

NEW DELHI: Society of Indian Automobile Manufacturers (SIAM), the apex body of the automobile industry, held its 4th SIAM Automotive Logistics Conclave.

In the two-day event, which concluded on Tuesday, delegates discussed emerging challenges in India’s fast-moving automotive logistics sector and called for concerted efforts from the industry players and the government, especially the Indian Railways for the sustainable development.

Speaking at the inaugural session of the annual event themed: “Changing Facets of Automotive Logistics”, Abhay Firodia, President, SIAM, and Chairman, Force Motors, said: “Developments in the sector are happening in an exciting pace with active participation of the government.

“Presence of Chairman, Railway Board here indicates that the government is desirous to be pro-active to smoothen and transitioning to the new era. The Railways has been a major catalyst and a lever in transformation of our country. It has the power to move things, people and freight, which have huge impact on efficiency and cost,” Firodia asserted.

Terming the Indian Railways as the movers of nation, Ashwani Lohani, Chairman, Railway Board, who was the chief guest at the Conclave, assured the industry that he is trying to bring in culture of work at Railways and has initiated the process of reforms.

He said the Indian Railways is poised for a change, in the way it conducts its business.

“We do have issues and we are aware of it. We are trying to focus on these issues and so have initiated the process of reforms. It is a changing time for the nation. You will see a paradigm shift that will come in the Indian Railways. We will spare no effort in improving the interaction with the automobile industry in meeting their logistics needs,” Lohani assured, while replying to a participant urging him to look into delays and mishandling of goods, while transporting through Railways network.

Lohani also suggested SIAM and the industry to share their concerns with him and promised to address as many issues as possible. He further stated that the Indian Railways is looking at consolidation and growth, especially for the high speed freight corridor and auto hubs.

“We want private investments in this segment. We have a scheme of entering into long-term partnerships. The long-term contract agreement will help in reducing the logistic cost. This is the new policy. We at the Indian Railways are looking at different ways of conducting business.”

“Currently, we move 1,100 million tonne of freight a year and 25 million passengers a day. We understand that the manufacturings of vehicles have gone up and so the requirement of logistics is crucial for the sector. Automobiles are symptom of how our economy is doing,” Lohani explained.

Prem Verma, Chairman, SIAM Logistics Group & Project Leader – Logistics, Tata Motors, said that this annual event is an excellent initiative to bring in the industry on one platform to discuss issues and concerns confronting the sector.

Welcoming Lohani, Verma averred that his presence at the conclave is the testimony to the seriousness the Indian Railways have for the automobile business.

“We are sure that going forward, things would be better and will improve further,” said Verma.

S K Gangwar, Member, (Technical), Inland Waterways Authority of India, while speaking at a session on Waterways and Shipping, urged the logistics industry to suggest and give their feedback on their expectations from the government.

“We are planning to start with some inland service soon. We will soon come out with it. The movement of cargo through waterway is more economical than road, especially for long distances…”, Gangwar pointed out.

He also informed that currently car like vehicles can be transported through waterway, but vehicles like trucks do not have the vessel support and can be done as more infrastructure is developed. India has a navigable length of around 14,500 kms, of which 5,200 kms of river and 4,000 kms of canals can be used as mode of water transportation. However, total cargo moved in India is just 0.1 per cent of the total inland traffic in India, while it is over 20 per cent in the US.

Sunil K Chaturvedi, CEO, Automotive Skills Development Council (ASDC), called for a need to have adequate planning, implementing, storing, controlling and ensuring efficient and effective movement of parts and vehicles.

He said there is a need and scope for Indian specific research work in automotive logistics. For auto logistics, there are 214 training centres across 23 states, where 62,153 trainees are enrolled and 40,751 trainees are certified.

“There is a need to integrate Railways and water transportation,” he explained. The Automotive Skills Development Council has been a mandate to bridge skill gaps and enabling sustained growth of the automotive sector.

R S Kapoor, Vice President, Maruti Suzuki, while addressing a session on Railways – Terminals, Policies & Technology, said that the Indian automotive sector needed to gear up to meet the challenges, as it is poised to be on top 3 markets globally by 2026.

In this regard he suggested for a multi-model logistics solution to meet the growing demand of transportation of automotive production across the country. He urged the government, especially the Indian Railways to increase its share of contribution in transportation of automotive units like cars – currently at 4-5 per cent — which will help the industry maintain growth and speedy transportation of vehicles.

“With support of Railways, we will be able to dispatch more number of cars every year. There is an urgent need to adopt global logistics models. At the same time, we need to improve on the skill development, as we move ahead in the growing automotive sector,” Kapoor claimed.

S M Andaleeb Razi, Director (Freight Marketing), Railway Board, stated that the Indian Railways is willing to partner in the change, which would happen in the coming years.

“For the Indian Railways automobile sector is a priority area. We are looking at increasing Railway’s share from 4-5 per cent to 12 per cent by 2020 and 25 per cent later. We are also going to have auto hub under the PPP model and this is being taken up very seriously. We will have better designed wagons which will increase throughput of vehicles transport. We will be increasing the height of our wagons to accommodate SUVs. The two-wheelers segment too has huge scope and we are working on it as well,” Razi explained.

H D Gujrati, Director, Dedicated Freight Corridor Corporation of India, termed the Dedicated Freight Corridor (DFC) as a game-changer for the transport industry.

“It will help in faster movement of goods, guaranteed transit time. This will create huge capacity and create huge employment. We expect the share of the Indian Railways in the transportation sector to increase from 30 per cent to 45 per cent with the coming up of DFC. This will also augment value added services and supply chain management.

The two-day conclave on Changing Facets of Automotive Logistics, had sessions on Opportunities and Challenges, Waterways and Shipping, Road Transportation, Railways- Terminals, Policies & Technology. Around 120 delegates from vehicle manufacturers and logistics service providers participated in the event. Display stalls were also set up by a few logistics providers.