Maersk launches double-stack ‘Automotive Express’ in India

Maersk's double-stack train in India.

Maersk launched a dedicated train service for the Indian automotive industry, branded as the ‘Automotive Express’. It kicked off on 18 April, and it will connect the Garhi Harsaru Inland Container Depot near Delhi with the APM Terminals at Pipavav Port. Maersk will offer the service in cooperation with GatewayRail,  an Indian intermodal rail operator, which will run double-stack trains on the route. 

Covering a distance of approximately two thousand kilometres per trip, the train will provide capacities up to 180 TEUs each way, using double rows of containers on the wagons. Moreover, it will be able to serve up to 25 customers simultaneously. “Manufacturing is a fundamental building block of our country’s economy. As a service provider to this critical segment, our goal is to streamline their supply chains and offer the highest levels of reliability,” said Vikash Agarwal, Managing Director, Maersk South Asia. The ‘Automotive Express’ objective is to simplify the supply chains of automotive manufacturers and provide them with an integrated logistics solution, including land and sea transportation.

The route between Garhi Harsaru Inland Container Depot and APM Terminals at Pipavav port.

Connecting land and sea

As mentioned above, the service will begin from inland India with a destination to the country’s western part and the Port of Pipavav. There the train will load its cargo to Maersk’s container ships, continuing their trip towards North America, South East Asia and the Far East. Consequently, Maersk is launching a dedicated intermodal rail freight service for a crucial industry like the automotive sector.

Double-stack trains

However, the service’s most unique characteristic is that it will also use a not so widespread type of train. It will be using double-stack trains that are uncommon in Europe and the countries across the New Silk Road. How do they work, though? They use regular container loading wagons, but they stack two containers on top of each other per wagon. In this way, each train automatically doubles its capacity, saving CO2 emission both from rail and road transport.

However, this type of train is not something new for the Indian freight sector. In fact, in India, they have been using double-stack trains for decades, while they have two dedicated corridors for this purpose, one in the Western part of the country and one developing currently on its Eastern part. Undoubtedly, double-stack trains constitute a very interesting case for rail freight with the possibilities they offer but using them more broadly is a matter of infrastructure. Nevertheless, one can only wonder what could happen if these trains were utilised in Eurasian transport.

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Author: Nikos Papatolios

Nikos Papatolios is editor of, the online magazine for rail freight professionals.

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