Container Corporation of India (CONCOR) is readying itself by creating capacities and getting ready for the Dedicated Freight Corridor (DFC) project to complete, to add to its already existing majority stake in the container market. Anil K Gupta, Chairman & Managing Director, CONCOR, speaks to Garima Pant on his company's plans for growth.
How will CONCOR benefit from the DFC? DFC will be a game changer in a sense that today we run a train from Mumbai to Delhi with 90 containers in around 40 hours. On DFC the containers will increase to 400 per train and the time will come down to half, 20 hours. Where do we handle these and how do we join DFC with our existing terminals and handle it in new terminals, we are in that mode today. We are creating capacity and ours is the only company up to now which has already created a terminal on DFC, while DFC is yet to come. Fortunately DFC is coming on a route absolutely parallel to the existing route. Our terminal is made on DFC standards with an arrangement with the DFC that once its track gets linked, we will be delinking ourselves from the existing track and linking with the DFC track within 48 hours.
Is there more of interest in the western corridor than the eastern one? India doesn't export much to the Far-East. We have a port at Vizag that has been operational for five years. There are multiple times when have started trains between north India to Vishakha terminal and every time we only have imports and nothing to export. So it doesn't remain viable. Whatever limited exports are going to the Far-East and China find a better vessel linkage through JN port. Vizag used to get a lot of import vessels but there was no export going back to Vizag.
So that circle never got fulfilled. If that happens we are fully capable of running trains to the east coast also. There is nothing that prohibits us from going to the east coast except traffic. If traffic is there we will run a train to the east coast.
Do you think development of the freight corridor, especially the eastern corridor, will help improve the business scenario? Technically, as far as I understand the justification for eastern corridor has no reliance on containers. It's only for bulk traffic, mineral traffic. The container justification is only for the western corridor. But if eastern corridor does have an opportunity for containers, we will be there.
How would you rate the container market in India? What makes you one of the leading industry players? There are 17 licence holders of which 15 are functioning and two are not. They have 25 per cent share in today's market and we still have almost 76 per cent share. I have 280 rakes while they have 160 rakes. So they have created infrastructure and whether they will be able to compete with us in terms of cost that is a different question. But it's unfortunate for the industry as a whole that when this policy was liberalised and by the time people became ready to provide services, recession struck. Had that not happened, all of us would have been in a different situation. But Indian demand hasn't grown and that is a big issue. Our containerisation percentage continues to be low and we are not able to move hinterland traffic a great deal. So creation of more capacity will work towards everybody's advantage. Volumes and level of service have worked for us. Our capability to combine and move from different terminals also makes us a successful player. Growth will come back but we have to create a capacity as infrastructure takes a long time to grow.