Power cuts: Railways cancel 670 passenger train trips to speed up coal rakes | India News

NEW DELHI: Soaring coal needs due to surge in electricity demand has forced Indian Railways to cancel around 16 mail/express and passenger trains per day over the past two weeks to create additional tracks for rakes carrying the key ingredient to power plants located across the country. The Ministry of Railways has notified the cancellation of nearly 670 passenger train journeys until May 24. More than 500 of these trips are on long-distance trains and express trains.
The railroads also increased the average daily loading of coal rakes to more than 400, which is the highest on record in the past five years.
Sources said the national carrier has pledged to supply 415 coal rakes a day, each carrying around 3,500 tonnes, to meet current demand. They added that this exercise will continue for at least another two months to improve inventories at power plants and avoid any crisis in July-August, when coal mining has the least rainfall.

“There are protests against the cancellation of passenger trains in various states, but we have no other choice because the immediate need is to ensure that there is no shortage of coal in power plants and that there is no power outage. It is a no-win situation for We hope to overcome this temporary phase,” an official from the Ministry of Railways said. The official added that since the power plants are located across the country, the railways have to run long-distance trains and therefore a large number of coal rakes are in transit for 3-4 days.Much of the domestic coal is transported from the area eastern to the northern, central and western parts of India.

According to official data, the railways loaded just 269 coal rakes per day in 2016-17. It was reinforced in 2017-18 and 2018-19. But over the next two years, the load dropped to 267 rakes a day. Last year that number was increased to 347 per day and until Thursday the number of rakes loaded with coal was around 400 to 405 per day. Officials added that there is an unprecedented increase in demand for coal this year and that rail remains the preferred mode of transport for this.

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Coal is used to generate around 70% of India’s electricity. The railways have also taken several measures to increase the loading and transportation of coal, including the running of long-haul trains on Indian Railways and dedicated freight corridor networks, intense monitoring of the detention of all coal rakes at loading and unloading points as well as their movement by senior officials. In the event of asset failures on the coal roads, the railroads have made it mandatory for senior officers to rush to the site for fault restoration “as a priority”.
It also imposed loading restrictions for rails and Kisan parcels on certain routes.

Jose P. Rogers