UNICONSULT works to ease traffic in India with inland water vessels

HHLA consultancy company UNICONSULT is assisting India’s transport authority in the search for solutions to ease the country’s road and rail traffic. The aim is to conduct more journeys by inland water vessels.

India’s economy has seen rapid growth in recent years, putting excess strain on the poorly developed transport infrastructure found in some parts of the country. In order to increase efficiency, there are plans to move more transports to the waterways, with the Indian authorities relying on German expertise to make it happen. On 1 February 2017, the Inland Waterway Authority of India in Delhi contracted HHLA subsidiaries UNICONSULT Universal Transport Consulting and HPC Hamburg Port Consulting to realise the potential for moving transports to inland water vessels that was identified in an initial study.

“Compared to other countries, India has previously made little use of the opportunities offered by inland shipping,” points out Hartmut Beyer, Managing Director of UNICONSULT. “The Indian government wants to change this, as it has recognised that this mode of transport offers ecological benefits and can alleviate pressure on the road and rail networks.”

National Waterway 1 has been identified as being particularly suitable for a pilot project. It is India’s most important waterway and part of the Baghirati-Ganges river system. As things stand, only around 5.5 million tonnes of bulk cargo are transported on inland water vessels on the waterway. By way of comparison, some 190 million tonnes were transported on the Rhine in 2015. The Rhine, however, is much better adapted to the infrastructure requirements of inland shipping.

“Over the past 18 months, we have examined how the waterway system can be improved so that the specific features of inland shipping can be better harnessed,” explains Hartmut Beyer. “By the end of the year, we want to move prestigions transports to inland water vessel.” To this end, the plan is to work with a local expert firm to bring together forwarders and inland shipping companies. Freight traffic on the waterways, which is still new to India, requires proactive support, as there is not only a need to establish new processes, but also to win over senders and recipients.

UNICONSULT team leader Frank Busse remains optimistic, however. “In the first phase of the project, we sensed considerable interest within the market, and the expansion of the Indian transport network is being closely followed at a political level. With the right impetus, our specialist support and proactive support of our customer Inland Waterways Authority of India (IWAI), we will play a part in ensuring that riverboats are regarded as a genuine alternative transport option in India.”

Along with HPC Hamburg Port Consulting and the HPTI Hamburg Port Training Institute, UNICONSULT Universal Transport Consulting is one of the consultancy companies of Hamburger Hafen und Logistik Aktiengesellschaft (HHLA). UNICONSULT has established itself as a specialist in the area of inland shipping. Chinese and Vietnamese authorities have already been given advice on how to develop this environmentally friendly mode of transport. The company also assisted the Port of Hamburg with the question of how to boost throughput on inland water vessels.