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China rail freight volumes post largest annual decline

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Stacks of international freight containers on a port quay

China’s rail freight volumes fell 10.5 pct in 2015, which is likely to add to concerns over China’s economic growth rate. China needs growth to hit its 2020 rail freight volume goal.

China’s national rail freight volumes declined by a tenth in 2015, their biggest ever annual decline, business magazine Caixin reported on Tuesday, a figure likely to raise questions about 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.

Rail freight volumes fell only 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.