Rail freight grows 1.4% in April; coal cargo declines by nearly 8%

Indian Railways in April recorded 1.45 per cent growth rate in its freight volumes, dragged down by weak numbers in coal transportation. It transported 128.29 million tonnes (mt) of goods, witnessing a fall of nearly 6 mt in its coal traffic, according to reports. “Freight revenue of Rs 14,075.14 crore was achieved in April 2024 against Rs 13,893.27 crore in April 2023, thereby showing an improvement of about 1.30 per cent over the last year,” the official said. While the railways increased its cargo in other segments, its coal traffic fell nearly 9 per cent in April to 57.64 mt year-on-year. The volumes were also slightly lower than in 2022, when the railways had to cancel more than 1,000 train trips to meet increasing coal demand, indicating supply-chain readjustment on account of changing weather patterns. Coal is the mainstay of railways’ freight earnings and accounts for 50 per cent of the transporter’s cargo volumes and revenue. A cooler start to the summer has been held to be the reason for coal volumes being subdued in April. The northern and western parts of India, which are the core demand drivers for thermal coal, witnessed cooler than expected temperatures. Northern and western states form the largest chunk of India’s power demand. The eastern part of the country has been sweltering and also pushing power demand but it remains lower than the two other big regions, adds reports.