Railway goods nos show slump worsening

Railways carried 2% less tonnage in October year over year (yoy), tougher days ahead for industrial sector.

If the goods carried by the Indian Railways (IR) are any indication, the country’s industrial health which had hitherto not been in best shape anyway is expected to decline further in coming months, potentially impacting the economy.

Cargo carriage in October slid 2% year on year to 82.25 million tonnes (mt) as all major industrial commodities hauled by trains have registered a decline. Additionally, with the monthly loading average tumbling, the Railways are expected to miss the aim of 1,050 mt carriage for the current fiscal year (FY).

In October, the Railways saw 5% less coal haulage to steel plants at 3.76 mt on an annual basis. Similarly, thermal power units have picked up approximately 2% less coal than October previous year. Against 26 mt coal hauled through the Railways in October previous year, the thermal power units went for only 25.46 mt this year.

A similar decline has been seen in cement and fertilizers. Ministry officials attribute the reason behind lower haulage to the slackening industrial demand. While the officials claimed that cyclone Phailin did dent the loading of coal, as for cement, they blamed it on lacklustre demand from the real estate sector. The October data show a slump of about 1.7% in the carriage of the commodity at 8.76 mt over the previous year.

The real estate activity has stayed anaemic. Of the 91,558 homes promised for delivery in the NCR region in 2013, only 21,371 units (23%) have been completed. Similar is the case in markets such as Mumbai, where only 7,990 units have been delivered against the promised 18,725, according to the findings of PropEquity, the Gurgaon-based property research and consulting firm.

“Between April and October this year, the Railways have carried 593.25 mt of cargo volume, against 565.27 mt in the same period previous year. Our earnings have also gone up at INR 51,188 crore in April-October from INR 47,045 crore in the previous FY,” a ministry official said.