Ta­tra eyes wagon leas­ing in In­dia

As Rail­ways plans big­ger pri­vate sec­tor role, Slo­vak’s freight car-maker plans to en­ter the coun­try soon

DNA (Daily News & Analysis) Mumbai Edition - - FRONT PAGE - Su­mit Moitra m_­[email protected]­dia.net

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.

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