The Land Transport Survey for October 2018 was published today, with some significant changes to many of the macro-level indicators for passenger and freight transport. Read the full report click here. This data excludes minibus taxis, by the way.
Passenger Market Indicators
Passenger volumes seem to be contracting in the rail transport market, while the income generated per passenger is actually rising. A general downward spiral for passenger rail journeys is not a good signal because the unit cost of subsidies per passenger will rise– even though the price side to me remains unclear for now. When seasonally adjusted almost 50% fewer passenger journeys are being made by rail per month declining from 31 million in January 2017 to 18 million in October 2018.
Road transport operators surveyed reveal increases in their monthly income, while the passenger rail market contracts some more. Investments in passenger rail services, not just infrastructure, are going to be much more important in the next year, than they have been in the last decade. Passenger volumes for rail, should not reach the 10 million passenger mark for any month, when seasonally adjusted. One of the biggest risks in the country at the moment is lower confidence in passenger rail transport. There is no transportation alternative that could manage to transport the volumes that Metrorail carry. An urgent move to bring the services, payment systems, operations and platforms on track is going to be crucial. People need reliable transport more than fancy new trains! Okay, but the new trains are very important.
Freight Transport Indicators
In terms of the freight market, things are changing too. Road freight is gaining traction, while rail payloads seem to contract. Now this is not a good thing under the backdrop of our national power supply struggling to meet the pressing needs of our economy. It is actually much worse because much of the freight rail locomotives are electric powered. Upward pressure for the road market is coming from a few interesting sources. Contractions in the mining, metals and fabricated goods markets are confronted with income gains from the agricultural sector. Motor vehicle commodities are slowing their role in the income stream, while household and office products are gaining. Freight rail typically dominates the primary sector, and some of the secondary and least of the tertiary sector. What is clear at least from the data, the primary sector dynamics for transport might be changing and the secondary sector is adding value to road transport incomes. However, the data does not provide a clear indication of which market is earning from which commodities– which is a serious problem. Anyway, Rail freight payloads were down 9.6% in October, while income contracted by less than the payload at 3.4%– which is a good thing. In terms of road transport, payloads increased by 13.2% while incomes followed suite just one percent short 12.3%. From my analysis of the seasonal data, while freight rail is contracting in terms of payload, it seams to be generating higher income per ton. One major risk for the road freight market is its exposure to payload volatility, because in 2017 payload increases were exceeded by income increases the trend in 2018 at a macro level is mostly on the opposite end.