Tatra eyes wagon leasing in India
As Railways plans bigger private sector role, Slovak’s freight car-maker plans to enter the country soon
Kolkata: Tatravagonka AS, Europe’s largest manufacturer of freight cars, is set to play a major role in India with its planned entry into wagon leasing business and through the recent acquisition of a stressed vehicle body and wagon-maker in Madhya Pradesh by its domestic partner Jupiter Wagons.
The Slovak major’s top management, which was in India recently, sees Indian Railways moving away from owning freight cars to managing a vast Railway network thereby giving more opportunity to the private sector for investment in new technologies and capacities in specialized freight carriers running at a higher speed and having enhanced safety features.
“In Europe, freight transportation is fully liberalised and in India, in my opinion, Indian Railways would stop buying freight trains and there would only be private operators. Private players who would own the wagons would lease them to private logistics operators and end users. The government would concentrate on rail infrastructure and passenger trains,” said Alexei Beljajev, co-promoter and chairman, Tatravagonka.
Tatravagonka is a leading player in leased freight cars business with a portfolio of over 10,000 wagons while in India, wagon leasing business is mostly dominated by GATX Corp of US with a fleet of about 1,500 railcars as of 2018.
Tatravagonka is having a good run in the European market with revenues expected to double in three years which explains why the group is looking at countries like India from where it can source components at competitive prices.
“It is an interesting time in Europe where the market is growing by 25% to 30% in terms volume with our revenues growing from 220 million euros in 2017 to 360 million euros this year and in 2020 we are booked for euro 450 million,” he said.
Tatravagonka entered India in 2015, picking up 26% stake each in Jupiter Wagons and Jupiter Alloys and Steel following which the wagon and castings making arms of the Kolkata-based Jupiter Group owned by the Lohia family were merged.
“We are on the cusp of bringing in some cuttingedge technologies like highspeed brake systems for trains that can run at a speed of 250 km/ hr and welded crossings for high-speed tracks among others,” Vivek Lohia, promoter and director of Jupiter Wagons said.
Some of these components would be manufactured by various joint ventures of Jupiter with entities like Tatravagonka’s arm DAKO-CZ and also with others like Kovis of Slovenia, Colway of Spain, among others.
Jupiter, along with Tatravagonka, which is also a turnaround specialist, has just picked up 70% stake in ailing autobody and wagon maker CEBBCO from the clutches of bankers led by Axis Bank for about Rs 100 crore and its revival strategy is under process.
“Management has already initiated discussions with three of the company’s largest customers including Eicher and Tata Motors. All three of them have verbally assured a substantial increase in orders over the current level within three months’ time of the new management coming in,” CEBBCO has told investors.