Despite overcapacity and subdued demand, new concessionaire PSA International’s Bharat Mumbai Container Terminals (BMCT) at Jawaharlal Nehru Port Trust (JNPT) appears to have settled into a speedier operating rhythm with marked productivity gains.
BMCT opened full-fledged operations in early February and currently hosts two regular, weekly services — the Swahili Express (SWAX) jointly operated by CMA CGM and Emirates Shipping Line in the India-Africa trade; and the Europe-Pakistan-India Consortium 2 (EPIC2) under a vessel sharing agreement between Hapag-Lloyd, CMA CGM, and Hamburg Süd.
A new analysis of JNPT productivity data shows the new terminal dramatically increased its crane rates and rail volume last month — and the latter improvement is particularly noteworthy, after previous mixed train handling issues with its peers at the port.
BMCT had an average gross crane rate of 41.6 moves per hour during May, compared with 35.6 moves per hour in the prior month, when measured in TEU liftings — achieving the second-best performance in India’s busiest public port complex on that front.
Meanwhile, DP World’s Nhava Sheva (India) Gateway Terminal (NSIGT), which has lately shown strong growth momentum, topped the chart, with an average crane count of 42.83 moves per hour, but that was still lower than 43.71 moves per hour in April. In contrast, otherwise long-time top performer APM Terminals’ Gateway Terminals India took a slight hit, with that number in May down to 40.9 moves per hour, from 41.16 moves per hour in the prior month, statistics show.
Further, BMCT handled 1,060 TEU of railed containers in May, versus just 180 TEU in April, although its total volume stayed relatively flat, month-to-month, at 24,477 TEU.
BMCT was also able to process ships at a speedy pace, averaging no more than a day per call during May. However, a direct, apples-to-apples comparison among terminals regarding vessel turn times is difficult/inappropriate, given the fact that the new terminal had limited ship calls — 10 in May, versus nine in April.
With competition in India's west coast continually increasing, growth remains a major challenge, but ad-hoc calls by some carriers are providing BMCT with a good opportunity to demonstrate its operational prowess. After servicing a rearranged call from the APL Savannah, one of eight vessels deployed in the Europe-Pakistan-India Consortium 1 (EPIC 1) that used NSIGT last month, BMCT is poised to handle another non-regular call from the Hyundai Faith, operating in the China-India Express (CIX) service, on Wednesday.
BMCT’s first phase features 1,000 meters (3,281 feet) of quay, a 90-hectare (222 acres) storage yard with 9,336 ground slots, 12 quay cranes, four rail-mounted gantry cranes, 36 rubber-tire gantry cranes, 324 reefer slots, and an annual capacity of 2.4 million TEU. A second-phase installation, featuring facilities with the same annual TEU capacity, is expected to be completed by 2022.
In addition, the new terminal has a distinct competitive edge regarding intermodal train operations, as its on-dock rail infrastructure is strategically aligned with Indian Railways’ under-construction Dedicated Freight Corridor that connects JNPT with northern hinterland points. Government and industry experts believe the mega-project will go a long way to drawing more truck freight to trains — a transport mode conversion critical to easing landside congestion at the port.
JNPT handles the majority of Indian container cargo. With the BMCT opening, the port has sufficient terminal capacity but needs to upgrade connectivity infrastructure to efficiently handle the anticipated growth and simultaneously fend off aggressive efforts by Adani Group-owned Mundra Port to poach its business.