31 Jul 2018 15:34

RZD targets loading growth at 2% for second month amid rail maintenance season

MOSCOW. July 31 (Interfax) - Russian Railways (RZD) plans average daily loading of 3.495 million tonnes in August 2018, a source familiar with the company's operations told Interfax.

This is equivalent to 108.345 million tonnes for the whole month or 2% more than the August 2017 figure of 3.426 million tonnes daily.

Russian Railways' July 2018 plan initially envisaged average daily loading of 3.506 million tonnes or over 3% more year-on-year, the source said. In the first four months of the year, RZD set the growth target at "3% plus" and each month the actual result was higher. However, in drawing up the loading plan for April, it started out with a growth figure of 2.2% due to the substantial upcoming rail repair work.

"We have 'windows' [traffic stoppages for infrastructure maintenance] beginning," RZD Commercial Director Alexey Shilo told Interfax previously. "Last year there was [maintenance], but we increased the volume by 1,000 kilometers this year. Secondly, there is a certain ceiling [throughput capacity], to which one can strive," he said. Nonetheless, loading increased 3.4% in April. Against that backdrop, RZD set the growth plan in May at 3.5% and once against actual growth was higher. But actual loading growth in June - 3.1% - was much closer to the target of 3%.

So far, loading growth in July is below target. At an operational meeting on Monday. Shilo said growth in the month so far was 1.2%, RZD's in-house publication reported. Since the beginning of the year, loading has increased 3.1% compared with the same period last year, it said without providing absolute figures. Loading in the first half was up 3.4% to 641.8 million tonnes.

At Monday's meeting, Shilo said: "The macroeconomic situation remains favorable." The main drivers of growth are grain, ferrous metals and coal, which accounted for 1.8% growth in domestic shipments and 5.3% for export shipments. "In the first 29 days of June, a total of 28.2 million tonnes of coal was located, a 4.8% increase year-on-year. We have 8.1% growth on the domestic market; in absolute terms this is 916,000 tonnes," Shilo is quoted as saying.