In order to deal with an unprecedented demand for coal, the vital input at thermal power plants, the Indian Railways has decided to cancel over 750 passenger-carrying train services till May 24 to prioritise the movement of coal rakes across the country.
National power consumption hit a record 207 GW on Friday (Apr 29), up from 205 GW the day before, as demand soared driven by heatwave and improved economic activity.
Coal mining companies and power producers have said that Railways is not adding enough rakes to ferry the feedstock. But the transporter has maintained that supply was not at a scale that required addition of rakes.
While maximum train services are being affected in the South East Central zone(SECR), the main coal-producing region, some mail/express and passenger train trips are also being cancelled in the Northern zone.
The coal movement has affected the services of 343 mail/express and 370 passenger trains up to May 24, 2022, in SECR. 20 mail/express and an equal number of passenger services are being suspended till May 8 this year.
According to the Railways, the national transporter has raised the average daily loading of coal rakes to over 400 a day, the highest in the past five years.
On Thursday, the Railways carried a total of 533 coal rakes, out of which 427 were meant for power plants and the rest for export purposes.
With one rake carrying 3800 tons, the Railways despatched 1.62 million tons of coal to power plants on Friday, said the official involved with the monitoring and today also a good quality of coal would be transported to the power sector.
The Railways has put 533 rakes for coal duty a day, 53 more than what was put into service last year.
Regarding the inconveniences to passengers, the official said the suspension of service is temporary, and it would be resumed as the situation would improve further.
The Union Power Minister R.K Singh has repeatedly urged generation companies (Gencos) to own freight rakes under the Railways Ministry scheme to ensure that potential logistic constraints in coal supply is eased
Arun Kumar Das is a senior journalist covering railways. He can be contacted at email@example.com.
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