Data | Railway freight traffic on the recovery track, nears pre-lockdown level

Freight volume of cement grew by 2.3% year-on-year in Jan. 2021, recording the first positive growth after over a year

Data on railway freight volumes act as an early indicator for where the economy is headed. For instance, the movement of cement and steel helps gauge the growth in the construction sector. Coal movement is a good proxy for electricity and industrial demand. In January 2021, the cumulative railway freight movement contracted by 1.05% year-on-year (y-o-y), compared to the contraction of 35% in April 2020. The pace of contraction has slowed and freight volume is within striking distance of pre-COVID-19 levels.

Near zero mark

The y-o-y % growth of cumulative freight movement contracted by only 1.05% as of January 2021, suggesting a healthy recovery.

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Steeling up

The y-o-y contraction in raw material supply (red line) , coal supply (green line) and iron ore (yellow line) supply to steel plants consistently reduced from 39%, 39% and 32% in April 2020 to 6.7%, 7.9% and 2.3%, respectively, in Jan. 2021. Freight volume of finished steel (violet line) from companies grew by 0.25% in Jan.2021, recording the first positive growth after March 2020.

Also read: Data | Railway freight declined by 27% between April and June; coal and cement worst hit

Cement augment

Freight volume of cement (blue line) grew by 2.3% y-o-y in Jan. 2021, recording the first positive growth after over a year. The paces of contraction reduced for transport of petroleum products (red line), and coal for powerhouses (yellow line) , but they are yet to post positive growth.


Grain train

Freight volume of food grains consistently posted record y-o-y growth during all post-pandemic months. This is primarily due to the government’s schemes to distribute extra food grains to people during the lockdown.

Also read: Data | Indian Railways spent ₹101.77 for every ₹100 earned in FY19, says CAG

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