The Rail Auto Hub at Walajabad Railway Station (Tamil Nadu) was announced in February in the rail budget and was inaugurated in March. Railways will soon unveil ‘Vision Document’ that would focus on enhancing business activity
Walajabad: The rail auto hub at Walajabad in Kancheepuram district, Tamil Nadu, has dispatched its first batch of cars, that will be transported by the freight train. The country’s first rail auto hub was announced during the rail budget in February and was inaugurated by the railway minister Suresh Prabhu.
The railway station is nearly hundred kms away from Tamil Nadu’s capital – Chennai. It is situated at a distance of approximately twelve – forty kms from leading automakers’ (such as Hyundai, Ford and Nissan) manufacturing facilities. The vehicles will be transported into the wagon through specially constructed stone-paved tracks.
The first batch which left the Walajabad railway station had 124 cars from the Korean auto major – Hyundai. Hyundai’s manufacturing facility is located in Sriperumbudur, while the vehicles are bound for Changsari, Kamrup district of Assam. The specially designed train has twenty-five wagons and each wagon is capable of carrying five cars. The southern railway will reportedly earn INR 16.37 lakhs from this trip.
The new rail auto hub in Walajabad is expected to transport more than one million vehicles yearly from auto hubs in Oragadam, Sriperumbudur and Singaperumal Kovil. Moreover, it will also get cars from Tamil Nadu’s adjoining states as well.
Earlier in March, during the inaugural function, Mr Vashishta Johri, General Manager, Southern Railway, Mr S. Anantharaman, Chief Operations Manager, Southern Railway, Mr Ajeet Saxena, Chief Commercial Manager, Southern Railway, Mr S.S. Gupta, Principal Chief Engineer, Southern Railway, Mr Anupam Sharma, Divisional Railway Manager, Chennai Division and senior officials and staff of Southern Railway were present at Walajabad to witness the occasion, besides them, Mr Anand, Senior General Manager, Hyundai, Mr Ramachandran, General Manager, Hyundai, Mr K.V. Rao, Senior Manager, Hyundai and Mr Mohanraj, APL Logistics Vascor Automotive Pvt. Ltd. also attended the function and graced the occasion.
It may be noted that the project was announced in the Railway Budget that India’s first rail auto hub in Chennai will be inaugurated soon. Within a few days of that announcement, the rail auto hub at Walajabad has been inaugurated on March 01.
COMMON-USER ORIGINATING RAIL AUTO- HUB
Walajabad station is being developed as the first common-user originating rail Auto- Hub on Indian Railways. Located in Kancheepuram district of Tamil Nadu, the station is located conveniently at 12 – 40 kilometres away from the major hubs of Oragadam, Sriperumpudur and Singaperumal Kovil areas housing the manufacturing facilities of M/s Nissan, M/s Hyundai, M/s Ford, M/s Daimler Chrysler and others.
This hub would cater to the over one million units of 4-wheelers being produced per annum in these areas. Also, Walajabad Auto Hub would act as an ideal distribution centre for the inward traffic of M/s TATA, M/s Honda, etc. converging for distribution into Tamil Nadu and adjoining states, including Puducherry.
With an initial holding capacity of over 300 4-wheelers, this rail hub has seamless road connectivity of 4 / 6 lanes to the production and consumption centres. Adequate lighting and fencing for security are also on the anvil.
It may be noted that it takes 36 hours to move one load of 6 cars from the factory to the port through trucks (road mode) due to congestion and time restrictions. From this facility, 300 cars can be moved to Chennai Port and Kamarajar Port (Ennore Port) in 2 – 3 hours.
The initial stacking area of 5,000 sqm will be extended to 20,000 sqm as common user stacking area. Apart from common user facility, additional eight acres of land is available with Railway at the location to facilitate the long term stacking of automobiles on commercial licensing of storage space.
Phase – I of the hub would be ready to handle the first auto-carrying train during March. Phase – II including the CC-pavement of over 5,000 sqm is at tendering stage and is due for completion in the next four months.
While hinterland traffic is the prime segment, Southern Railway intends to capture the considerable export market on offer from the Ports of Chennai and Kamarajar (Ennore), through competitive pricing.
Presently, 4% automobile traffic are transported through Indian Railway and approximately Rs.100 crore revenue has been collected during financial year 2015-16 so far through this traffic. The Railways target to increase the share of Railways (in the segment) to around 20% by 2026.
The loading of 124 Hyundai cars was done by Glovis India in specially designed wagons to Changsari in North Frontier Railway. The first ever loading resulted in freight earnings of Rs 16.37 lakh.
All the infrastructural facilities have been developed in house by railways including a custom built ramp to facilitate loading of automobiles into wagons, it is learnt.
It may be recollected that as announced in Railway Budget 2016, India’s first rail auto hub at Walajabad (near Kancheepuram) was inaugurated on 1 March this year by Union Railway Minister Suresh Prabhakar Prabhu.
The auto hub at Walajabad is located in Kancheepuram district and is conveniently positioned at (12- 40) kilometre away from the major auto hubs of Oragadam, Sriperambadur and Singa Perumal Kovil areas housing the manufacturing facilities of auto majors like Nissan, Hyundai, Ford, Daimler Chrysler and others.
This hub would cater to the over one million units of four-wheelers being produced per annum in these areas. Also, Walajabad auto hub, would act as an ideal distribution centre for the inward traffic of Tata, Honda and others by converging for distribution into Tamilnadu and adjoining states, including Pondicherry.
With an initial holding capacity of over 300 4 – wheelers, this rail hub has seamless road connectivity of 4/6 lanes to the production and consumption centres. Adequate lighting and fencing for security are also on the anvil.
While hinterland traffic is the prime segment, Southern Railway intends to capture the considerable export market on offer from the Ports of Chennai and Ennore, through competitive pricing.
Railways will soon unveil ‘Vision Document’ that would focus on enhancing business activity
Southern Railway will soon unveil a vision document that would focus on enhancing business activity at Rail Auto Hub at Walajabad. It is also expected to seal a deal with two ports – Chennai and Ennore – as it intends to capture the considerable export market on offer from the two ports, through competitive pricing.
The railway has done a study on how to enhance the hub and increase the volume of traffic. Details of this study would be unveiled in a week. According to a senior official from Southern Railway, this document will give a boost to the automobile industry in Tamil Nadu. “We have carefully analysed the container traffic from the hub to Chennai Port and transporting spare parts, which is also on cards. As spare parts usually get transported by trailers, we are looking to capture this market share,” he added.
The plan for setting up this hub at Walajabad in Kancheepuram district was made during the Railway Budget 2016. Spread over 5,000 sq.m., the hub is located near auto units of Oragdam, Sri Perambadur and Singaperumalkovil. These areas house automobile giants including Hyundai, Nissan, Ford and Daimler Chrysler.
Last week, Hyundai Motors sent its first consignment of 124 cars to Changsari in Assam. The first loading resulted in freight earnings of Rs. 16.37 lakh for the railways.
An official from Hyundai said: “We expect our rail coefficient to be about 6 per cent while road would be 93 per cent and domestic coastal about 1 per cent this year.”
Southern Railway is now awaiting other car firms to come forward and utilise the facility.
“Nissan, being one the largest car manufacturers, looks forward to this efficient and cost-effective infrastructure, as it will soon reach the next milestone of dispatching six lakh cars from Chennai,” said Guillaume Sicard, president, Nissan India Operations. Car-maker Ford feels that this hub will offer a greener logistical solution through decongestion of road traffic.
“Considering the fact that this region caters to about one million cars manufactured per year, Indian Railway stands to gain from the need for efficient finished vehicle transport by automakers,” said Jahnavi Gokulakrishnan, Senior Research Analyst, Transportation & Logistics Practice, Frost & Sullivan – Middle East, North Africa & South Asia.
According to Ms. Gokulakrishnan, a significant share of finished vehicle transport happens via road currently. However, the conditions of the roads across the country do not support transportation of this scale, causing high inefficiencies and bottlenecks in the automobile supply chain.
About 0.02 per cent of roads in India can support high speed transport.
Furthermore, the average truck speed in India is less than 25 km/hour, which is lesser than the global average.