06 Feb 2016 13:10 IST

Cars from Chennai take the coastal route to Gujarat; Hyundai takes lead

Part of Centre’s initiative to reduce carbon footprint and congestion on road

Marking a first, car-makers are taking the coastal route to move vehicles across the country. On Friday, new vehicles heading to Pipavav in Gujarat were loaded on to a roll-on/roll-off vessel IDM Symex at the Chennai port.

This is a major boost to the Centre’s initiative to promote coastal shipping to reduce the carbon footprint and congestion on the road.

The Shipping Ministry had even recommended to the Finance Ministry to provide an incentive of ₹3,000 per car to manufacturers using coastal shipping. However, a decision is pending, said sources.

The ro-ro vessel belonging to Singapore-based Symex Maritime Inc will load 800 Hyundai cars through the night and is expected to leave early morning direct to Pipavav, Gujarat, with a sailing time of six days, said Binu Joshua Thomas, Director, Link Shipping, which represents Symex in India.

“This is the first time in the country that cars are being transported through coastal shipping. We have been moving trucks from New Mangalore to Hazira,” he told BusinessLine.

Read: IBS-BLoC Case Study Contest Turning the Railways around: will it be a bumpy ride ahead?

Also read: Analysis Why the spectrum auction is critical to smartphone users

To begin with, the direct ro-ro service will be fortnightly. Around 2,000 cars can be transported in a single voyage. The Hyundai cars arrived at Chennai port from the company’s Sriperumbudur plant by road through trailers. “In the return voyage, we are talking to manufacturers to move their vehicles to southern destinations,” he said. The foreign flag vessel has been permitted by the DG Shipping to do the coastal run in Indian waters for the next five years, he said.

Cost benefit

Thomas said moving cars by coastal shipping would be 25-30 per cent cheaper when compared to road. It will reduce pollution on the highways, as about 200 car trailers would be off the road. Each trailer can carry seven or eight cars and the freight is ₹1.5 lakh per trailer from Chennai to Pipavav, he said.

Chennai Port Trust sources said that to boost coastal shipping, the wharfage for ro-ro vessels using coastal shipping will be 60 per cent of the usual tariff. A charge of ₹500 per car (for small vehicle) and ₹2,000 for large vehicles needs to be paid to the port.


According to government estimates, a diversion of 5 per cent of cargo transportation to a waterborne mode can result in an annual saving of ₹2,000 crore and a reduction of 6 per cent in harmful chemicals and pollutants in the environment.

Despite having a coastline of 7,517 km, the share of coastal shipping in India is only around 15 per cent of the local freight, as against 43 per cent in the European Union.

Read: C-Suite Fables Nowhere to hide

Commodities carried by coastal shipping include thermal coal, crude oil, iron ore and cement, and this has not changed over the years.

Some of the prominent coastal shipping routes are Chennai to Chittagong/Yangon through Haldia/Kolkata; south-bound cargo from Pipavav/Mundra to Kochi; coal from Kolkata to Kandla and Bhavnagar, and inland and coastal movement in and around Goa.

Recommended for you