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Jan-May rail freight volume falls

11 June 2014
The amount of freight carried on China’s railways fell 3 per cent year-on-year to 1.58bn tons in the first five months of 2014, according to China Railway Corporation. The national railway operator attributed the decline to the macroeconomic environment that has weakened transport demand for goods.

“As China is developing the tertiary industry that relies less on transportation of goods, the growth in railway freight volume will gradually return to a normal level instead of the high rates seen in previous years,” said Hu Siji, a professor with the School of Traffic and Transportation at Beijing Jiaotong University.

The drop in railway freight volume, Professor Hu noted, was also due to increasing competition from other transportation channels. “The railway sector needs reform as the quality is low compared with other means of transport,” he said.

The volume of freight carried by road, water and air transport grew by 8.9 per cent, 6.3 per cent and 6 per cent, respectively, in the first four months of this year, according to the National Bureau of Statistics; the May data is not yet available.

The sluggish commodity market especially coal has also depressed railway freight. The first half of the year is normally a slack season for coal consumption, said Liu Dongna, an analyst with the Shandong-based consultancy Sublime China Information.

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