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Rail freight rises: core sector in good shape

India’s goods traffic movement is a good lead indicator of how some core sectors are performing. Coal is shipped by rail. Steel plants transport ore and other raw materials to their plants, and transport finished steel back by rail. Other key commodities being transported by rail include fertilisers, foodgrains and crude oil. An increase in freight traffic either indicates higher demand for raw materials (coal is used by power and steel plants) or higher production because shipments are going up.

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Steep gradient ahead: required, a steady hand

The railway minister has made up her mind to lean on the centre in the next few years to support her growth plans. In 2009-10, the budgetary support has been increased by Rs 5,000 crore over the interim budget figure. But its reliance on the government for funds is expected to increase, putting pressure on the government’s already strained resource position.

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Rail Budget: finances go off track

Today, the Railway Budget 2009-10 was presented by the railway minister Mamata Banerjee. It was her maiden budget and she left no stone unturned to announce populist schemes, the hallmark of every rail minister. When the times were mostly good, as in the previous government’s tenure, it didn’t pinch but in a slowing economy, it is undoing the strong position the railways made for itself in the past five years.

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Rail freight traffic in November up by just 1.3%

More evidence of the slowdown, not that anyone needs it. The Indian Railways play a key role in the transportation of certain petroleum products, cement and clinker, coal, iron ore and agricultural products. In FY08, volume traffic growth was high at 9% but FY09 has seen growth decelerate. In November’08, volume traffic is up by just 1.3% to 66.6mn tonnes and up by 6.5% to 534.6mn tonnes in the April-November period. Continue Reading →

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