Global Investor

Transport trouble

Arvind Jayaram | Updated on March 12, 2018

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India’s transport sector is inefficient



India’s transport sector does not make efficient use of the fuel it consumes, with energy use for transport services within the country higher than most others, except Thailand. This is of concern not only from the perspective of India’s huge energy demand − which it mostly meets through costly imports − but also in terms of pollution. Indeed, the share of energy usage in India’s transport sector is 21.6 per cent, which includes 20.1 per cent for petroleum products and 1.5 per cent for electricity.

In comparison, it stands at just 5.6 per cent in France and Germany, while it is 8.2 per cent in Japan and 9 per cent in the US.

Even other emerging nations have a more energy-efficient transport sector than India: the total energy intensity of the transport sector in South Africa is 12.7 per cent, compared to 16.2 per cent in Brazil and 18.8 per cent in China. Energy intensity is broadly defined as the energy use per unit of freight or per passenger transported a distance of one kilometre. The transport indicators measure the energy used for moving both goods and people. The higher energy intensity in India vis-à-vis most other countries mainly stems from the fact that 65 per cent of freight movement is by truck.

In contrast, more developed countries have well-developed public transport mechanisms and rely on modes such as the railways and shipping for goods transport. Public transport systems are also more developed in countries like Germany.

Published on July 20, 2014

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