Railway freight earnings register 11% on year jump in October

Earnings from goods transportation via Indian railways continued to rise in October, indicating gradual recovery in demand and an uptick in economic activity.

Freight loading grew 18 % on year at 43.46 mt as of October 13, while earnings jumped 11% on year to 4,124 crore to incremental loading of all commodities, including coal, fertilizers, steel, cement and food grains, among others, official data showed.

Cement and coal segment comprises more than 50% of freight movement for Indian railways. As of October 13, the national transporter carried 19.13 mt coal, compared to 17.20 mt a year ago. As much as 4.36 mt of cement was transported in October, compared to 3.28 mt. Similarly, as much as 126 automobile rakes were loaded in October, compared to 74 rakes last year.

According to the railway ministry, the average loading of 53,774 wagons per day was up 16.5% on year, as of October.

Freight loading and earning gradually picked up from August, after a sharp decline during the first quarter of the current fiscal due to the disruption caused by the outbreak of covid-19. However, cumulative data showed that during April-September, there was a 9% year-on-year decline in freight traffic to 533 mt and 17% year-on-year fall in earnings to 50,185 crore, according to data released by the railway ministry.

Freight traffic is considered to be an important macroeconomic indicator as it is a reflection of broader trend of economic activity. Earlier this month the government had said that economic recovery has gained momentum in September. The implementation of Aatmanirbhar Bharat package and unlocking of the economy have ensured that recovery in India has gained momentum even as the sustained spread of the virus poses a downside risk to the short- and medium-term growth rates, according to the finance ministry.