SHANGHAI Jan 5 The total volume of goods
transported by China's national railway dropped by a tenth last
year, its biggest ever annual decline, business magazine Caixin
reported on Tuesday, a figure likely to fan concerns over how
sharply the economy is really slowing.
Citing sources from railway operator National Railway
Administration, Caixin said rail freight volumes declined 10.5
percent year-on-year to 3.4 billion tonnes in 2015.
In comparison, volumes fell 4.7 percent in 2014.
The amount of cargo moved by railways around China is seen
as an indicator of domestic economic activity. The country's top
economic planner said last month that November rail freight
volumes fell 15.6 percent from a year earlier.
Weighed down by weak demand at home and abroad, factory
overcapacity and cooling investment, China is expected to post
its weakest economic growth in 25 years in 2015, with growth
seen cooling to around 7 percent from 7.3 percent in 2014.
But some China watchers believe real economic growth is
already much weaker than official data suggest, pointing to
falling freight volumes and weak electricity consumption among
Power consumption in November inched up only 0.6 percent
from a year earlier.
A private survey published on Monday showed that the
factory activity contracted for the 10th straight month in
December and at a sharper pace than in November, suggesting a
continued gradual loss of momentum in the world's second-largest
The National Railway Administration did not respond to
Reuters' calls for comment.
Caixin said the operator was targeting an expansion in rail
freight volumes to 4.2 billion tonnes by 2020, which would
require an average annual growth rate of around 4.3 percent.
In comparison, passenger traffic volumes on the network grew
6.1 percent in 2015, Caixin said, though at a slower pace versus
2014 when it increased by 11.9 percent.
(Reporting by Brenda Goh; Editing by Kim Coghill)