Rail transport, essential to the mobilization goods and services, shows signs of recovery from the tumble it took last year due to the COVID-19 pandemic, reports the Ministry of Communications and Transport (SCT).
Mexican railroads transported 42.73 million tons from January to April, a 5.2 percent increase from the 40.59 million tons transported in the same period last year, indicates the Rail Transport Regulatory Agency (ARTF) in its 1Q2021 report. Of the goods transported in the first four months of 2021, 22.83 million tons correspond to imports and 7.05 million tons to exports, for a total of 29.88 million tons of international traffic. This represents a 1.8 percent increase compared to the same period last year. The rest of the mobilized cargo corresponds to goods being moved locally. The 12.85 million tons transported locally represent an increase of 14.2 percent year-on-year. Significant increases were seen in the number of railway wagons mobilized for a total of 670,000, an increase of 4.35 percent over last year. These numbers represent a 4.84 percent increase in overall mobility, with a total of 30,266 ton-km mobilized in that period. An important note is that January and February still presented negative numbers; the real growth started in March and spiked during April.
While overall there was an increase in tons moved, several rail operators reported decreases. Ferrocarril del Istmo de Tehuantepec, for example, reported a 97 percent reduction compared to last year, reports T21. LCD also saw a contraction of 7.17 percent and Ferrosur of 3.75 percent. On the other hand, KCSM reported an increase of 6.1 percent, Ferromex of 6.22 percent, Admicarga of 59.11 percent and Ferrovalle showed the highest growth during this period with 70.07 percent.
Overall, this has been the second most productive first quarter in the last five years. But the data should be carefully considered in context, given that transport demand fell abruptly from 2Q2020 because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Nonetheless, the spike seen during this period shows promising signs of a swift recovery.
On the passenger side, the transport network is still lagging behind last year’s numbers. During 1Q2021 the sector contracted by 42.93 percent, for a total of 8.15 million passengers. The railway system only operates five passenger rail services, three of which are exclusively touristic while the Chihuahua-Pacifico runs on a mixed modality and Tren Suburbano is the only one with high use in mind. This last rail connects the Mexico City subway system with the State of Mexico. Of the total passengers transported during 1Q2021, almost 8.1 million used Tren Suburbano. The decrease was expected because of the lockdown measures put in place towards the end of 1Q2020. And, while the decline was significant, there also appear to be early signs of recovery in this sector.