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Hungary’s freight volume drops 11.9% in 2009

Freight volume in Hungary dropped 10.4% to 77.2 million tons in Q4 from the same period a year earlier, bringing the full-year decline to 11.9%, the Central Statistical Office (KSH) said.

Calculated in freight-ton-kilometers, performance rose, however, by 4% in Q4 -- boosted by expanding international performance and also by a low base -- in the first yr/yr rise since Q2 2008.

Full-year performance fell in all segments but road and pipeline freight was already up in the fourth quarter from a year earlier.

Freight volume in 2009 totaled 303.1 million tons, down 11.9% after a 3.8% rise in 2008. Freight volume dropped yr/yr each quarter of last year after rises in 2008.

Calculated in freight-ton-kilometers, performance of the transport sector rose 4.0% to 13.37 billion freight-ton-kilometers in Q4 2009 after five quarters of yr/yr decline.

Full-year performance still dropped, by 6.3% to 50.12 billion freight-ton-kilometers in 2009 after a 0.7% decline in 2008.

International freight volume fell 12.8% to 80.5m tons and domestic freight volume fell 11.5% to 222.6m tons last year. In freight-ton-kilometers, full-year international performance fell 6.4% to 35.60 billion and domestic performance fell an almost identical 6.3%, to 14.52 billion.

Q4 comparisons show, however, a pickup in international performance since a low reached in Q2 2009, as Q4 foreign freight volume declined only 1% yr/yr in tons and rose to 8.7% in ton-kilometers.

The picture was still bleak on the domestic scene, where the volume-term drop widened each quarter since Q2 to reach 13.9% yr/yr in Q4, while the yr/yr decline ton-kilometer-term performance slowed to 6.7% in Q4 from 8.5% -- the annual low - in Q3.

76% of all freight volume was carried on road and 14% on railways last year. The share in domestic freight was 91% and 6%, respectively, while was 34% and 37% in international freight volume 19% of which went on pipeline.

Road transport volume fell 10.1% in 2009, rail transport fell a steep 17.7%, transport volume on inland waterways fell 12.3%. Pipeline transport fell the least, 7.3% in 2009 and was the only segment with a rise, of 2.5%, in Q4. Freight-ton-kilometer rail transport suffered the greatest decline at 21.7%.

In road transport, fewer goods were transported at longer distances, while the empty running of vehicles dropped. Freight companies suffered a deeper fall than the headline figures.

Within the sharp overall drop of freight transport on railways, domestic volumes rose 11% while performance in ton-kilometers fell 3%. International rail freight volume dropped a sharp 26% and ton-kilometers dropped 25%. KSH noted that two Slovak companies entered the Hungarian rail freight market last year.

Long-distance passenger numbers fell 5.2% to 655.5m in 2009 and passenger transport performance dropped 4.7% to 24.77 billion passenger kilometers last year.

Hungary's air freight turnover totaled 54,550 tons last year, 13.7% less than in 2008. Practically all the turnover was on Budapest Ferihegy airport where freight turnover fell 13.3% to 54,360 tons. (MTI – Econews)