India: congestion increases demand for empty container rail transport

APM Terminals Mumbai in India will launch a rail freight service dedicated to the movement of empty containers. India’s busiest container handling terminal sees a growing demand for repositioning empty containers by rail due to road congestion and containers continuously pilling up in port terminals.

“We see growing demand from our diverse customer base for solutions beyond conventional services a container terminal would normally offer”, commented Girish Aggarwal, CEO at APM Terminals Mumbai. “This includes an increased focus on landside transportation and products, ensuring better and faster equipment availability. With this new product, we want to help our customers better organise their logistics while reducing the pressure on roads and improving safety”, he added.

An example to resolve container availability?

Road congestion between transport hubs in India seems to be the main driver for APM Terminals Mumbai’s decision to launch an empty container train. Most empty containers are transported by road, resulting in growing truck numbers hoarding the country’s road network. Nevertheless, this is not a viable solution in environmental terms and in terms of lead times since containers take much longer than needed to reach their destination.

“The new rail service also provides greater visibility of the location of the inventory and allows better planning of the supply chain by customers”, explained the company. “It is available to both shipping lines and individual customers, as well as inland container depot (ICD) or container freight station (CFS) operators and will be launched each time based on customer needs”, it highlighted.

With this purely tailor-made rail solution, “shipping lines and individual customers can reposition their empty inventory by rail from the container terminal to inland depots, from depots to the terminal, or even between individual depots via the terminal”, said the company. In this way, waiting times for empty containers will decrease significantly, and container owners will be able to retrieve and reuse their equipment much more efficiently.

Transporting empty containers might not be the most profitable business for rail. However, it can prove life-saving for the supply chain and produce extra revenue. Could this also be a solution for the New Silk Road, the relief of congested ports worldwide, and the tackling of container scarcity in general?

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Author: Nikos Papatolios

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

1 comment op “India: congestion increases demand for empty container rail transport”

bönström bönström|02.05.22|20:19

Hm, railways shall be left to forward/store empty containers, just for sake of easing pressure on the otherwise high quality device, the on road trucks…
Now for railways urgently remain proving the high quality device!

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