Indian Railways has decided to waive haulage charges for moving empty containers and empty flat wagons from Thursday till December 31 in a move aimed at easing the container shortage that has roiled exporters and raised freight rates.
Currently, Railways is offering a 25 per cent discount on extant haulage rate per twenty-foot equivalent unit (TEU) for movement of empty containers and empty flat wagons valid till April 30, 2021. “From January 1 till April 30, the discount of 25 per cent on extant haulage rate per TEU for movement of empty containers and empty flat wagons will be applicable,” the Ministry of Railways said in a circular issued on Wednesday.
“The move will greatly help empty container movement and the trade at a time of shortage of empty containers for exports and encourage the movement of more containers by rail as compared to road,” said a shipping industry executive. “By reducing the inland logistics costs for container operators, it will encourage the re-positioning of more empty containers into India versus competing areas,” he said.
“It would help if the Railways moved empty containers from ports to inland container depots free of cost to help reduce the empty repositioning cost for the exporters in the hinterland,” Sunil Vaswani, Executive Director, Container Shipping Lines Association (India), told BusinessLine in October, as ocean freight rates soared on the back of equipment shortages and congestion.