The Japanese logistics company will operate one round trip a week between the major cities of Delhi and Bangalore. Covering the 2,200km between the cities requires four days by truck, but shipping by rail will shorten that to three days.
Nippon Express will offer the service later this month on consignment from Japan’s transport ministry as part of Japan-India economic cooperation.
A 40-car freight train will be leased from India’s Ministry of Railways and a local company that owns freight trains. It will be able to transport 80 20-foot containers at a time.
The train will carry a variety of cargo, including daily necessities, machinery parts and finished automobiles, all loaded into containers. At present, the bulk of such cargo is shipped by truck. The cost to ship by train will vary depending on the cargo’s weight, but the plan is to keep fees to about the same as shipping by truck.
Trucks can only carry a small amount of cargo per load and frequently encounter delays due to traffic congestion. They must also undergo entry procedures when crossing state borders within India, something that is not necessary with rail.
Many automobile assembly plants operated by Suzuki Motor, India’s leader in passenger car sales, are concentrated in and around Delhi, as are autoparts plants. Toyota Motor and others have plants in the vicinity of Bangalore. Offering regular rail shipments between the cities will give Japanese companies a stable way of shipping large volumes of parts and finished goods.
India’s cargo shipping volume is climbing at a 15% annual rate amid economic development. The Indian government has plans to link major cities such as Delhi, Mumbai and Kolkata by freight train. Nippon Express believes its business model — renting freight trains and offering regular service — could be applied to other cities as well.