As Electricity Demand Continues to Climb, Railroads Cancel 753 Passenger Train Trips to Run More Coal Rakes | India News

NEW DELHI: The railways on Friday night announced the cancellation of more passenger trains until May 24 – dropping the number from 670 to 753 runs of 42 trains – to free up tracks for coal rakes as peak demand was hitting a new peak of 207 gigawatts on Friday, leading to fuel inventories running out an average of eight days at power plants.
The railways had previously decided to cancel 670 journeys between March 28 and May 24. The majority of the trains proposed for cancellation run in the South East Central Railway area, which serves SECL, the largest coal miner in the Coal India stable.
Trains running in the Northern Railway Zone have also been canceled to operate more coal rakes in Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand.
Railway sources said a maximum of 427 rakes were loaded with nearly 1.6 million tonnes (MT) of coal on Thursday. They added that they have set themselves the goal of loading an average of 1.5 MT per day for at least 10 days.
“The canceled trains run in non-priority sectors and less busy routes. This decision was made to prioritize moving coal rakes across the country to address an unprecedented fuel shortage at power plants,” an official said.
More coal rake movement is also needed given a 27% increase in Coal India’s output this month compared to a year ago. Coal shipments also increased by 5.8%. The government has said that sufficient coal stock with coal companies is available, pointing out that the stock of coal at CIL is 56.7 MT, 4.3 MT at SCCL and 2.3 MT in the captive coal blocks .
Several states are facing power outages ranging from two to eight hours amid a severe heat wave. The Department of Energy expects peak electricity demand to reach 210-15 GW.
Rail sources pegged the coal stockpile at the sidings at 4.7 MT, which is ready for immediate transfer to power stations. Another 2 MT coal stock is also available on the CIL sidings. “CIL offered 5.7 MT of coal to the production companies and 5.3 MT of this coal was reserved by them, to constitute stocks.
Coal stocks are running out at thermal power plants as operators dip into them to supplement supply to meet peak demand. But with the railroads increasing the daily availability of the rake to 400, supplies are maintained to keep factories running.
The latest report from the Central Electricity Authority on April 27 shows a stock of coal at 13,192 tons, or 24%, of the normative stock of 57,033 tons at 147 horsepower with a cumulative capacity of 163 GW located far from the mines. Tracking data shows inventory is slowly depleting as demand increases.
Electricity demand exceeded supply as there was an 8.2 GW shortfall on Tuesday, according to data from national grid operator POSOCO. Similarly, there was an unmet demand of 10 GW on Wednesday even though the highest supply that day was 200.6 GW.

Jose P. Rogers