GEN railway train transport

India’s cold chain infrastructure continues to expand and the Container Corporation of India (Concor) is heading one of the latest developments as it plans to launch a commercial refrigerated rail service for the domestic market by October.

In a report from the Nikkei Asian Review, the state-owned company said this is part of a range of upgrades India needs in transport and warehousing to unlock more opportunities.

V Kalyana Rama, chairman and managing director of Concor, told the Nikkei Asian Review, refrigerated rail services had mostly been used for export-bound goods but the company wanted to tap the potential of the domestic market and planned nationwide expansion by 2021.

Concor trialled the service in June using cherries, the shipments were transported 1,900km from a northern city to Mumbai by truck and rail. The company is collaborating with Tokyo-based ITE, which supplied a flat cooling unit IceBattery to keep the transport temperature at a pre-set level.

However, it is not enough to only upgrade transport services, storage facilities must maintain pace for the cold chain to remain effective. Concor has a network of 83 dry ports and Rama said the company has plans for expansion on this front as well.

“We are planning to increase them (our dry ports) to 100, and we'll be adding 20 more distribution logistics centres,” Rama said.

“So, in the next three to four years, it (will be] a network of 120 centres. This country needs this vast network.”