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Gains in rail, traffic data signal revival

By Sachin P Mampatta, Shine Jacob & Krishna Kant
August 18, 2020 21:35 IST
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The Railways data shows that it carried more goods and earned more money from freight for the week ended August 16 than the corresponding period last year.

The Indian Railways has begun to make more money from goods than it did in 2019, and traffic congestion rose in Mumbai, show two of the several weekly indicators, signaling economic recovery as India continues with another phase of unlocking.

The country has been gradually opening up after shutting down in March to stop the spread of the Covid-19 pandemic, with the third phase of unlocking beginning this month.

 

A lot of official indicators such as trade and gross domestic product data appear monthly or quarterly.

Business Standard tracks higher-frequency indicators such as Railways data to get a current picture of the economy.

Analysts across countries have been similarly tracking various indicators to get a sense of the economic situation on the ground.

All indicators are as of Sunday, except Google data which appears with a lag.

The Railways data shows that it carried more goods and earned more money from freight for the week ended August 16 than the corresponding period last year.

While freight quantity had entered positive territory earlier, earnings had been lower than in 2019.

Electricity generation is back to the same level it was in 2019.

During the strictest phase of the lockdown, it had fallen by nearly 30 per cent.

Search engine Google uses location data to track people’s movements.

The data as of August 11 shows workplace visits have come back to around 70 per cent of what is seen during normal times.

Visits to parks, retail, and recreation spots are down 50 per cent.

The traffic data from location technology firm TomTom International shows Mumbai’s traffic movement is up 10 percentage points over the previous week.

Congestion levels are at half of the normal levels, while in New Delhi, it’s at 68 per cent of normal levels.

Business Standard also tracks nitrogen dioxide emissions, which is the result of industrial activity and vehicular movement.

Levels are higher in Delhi than Mumbai.

Mumbai numbers, as measured by Bandra locality data, are low compared to 2019.

Photograph: Adnan Abidi/Reuters

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Sachin P Mampatta, Shine Jacob & Krishna Kant in Mumbai/Delhi
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