The railways has ramped up production of wagons, adding nearly 1,500 of them, or them, or 30 freight trains, every month only for transportation of coal ahead of summer.
Amid strong indications of early onset of summer and spike in demand for electricity, railway ministry officials said efforts are being made to ensure adequate and enough supply of coal to power plants and avoid situations like last summer when they had to cancel a large number of passenger trains for coal movement.
“The production of wagons has more than doubled and till January of the 2022-23 financial year, we have produced over 17,000 wagons and nearly 50% of these are meant for carrying coal. This is a priority area for railways. Besides accelerating the addition of more wagons in our system, there is a greater focus on giving approvals to all important projects related to coal movement expeditiously. We have adopted a corridor-based approach and ‘coal corridor’ is the most important one,” said a ministry official.
India’s peak power demand is expected to touch 230GW in 2023 and it had touched 211GW in January, which was close to an all-time high at 216 GW in April, 2022. It was during this period, the railways took the drastic measure to cancel nearly 700 passenger trains to rush coal to the thermal power plants across the country. It was seen as an exception on railways’ part considering its past record of giving priority to passenger trains over freight trains.
Officials said there have been regular meetings of all the stakeholders to be ready to meet the demand of coal during summer. Last week, the power ministry directed all imported coal-based thermal plants to function at full capacity between March 16 and June 15 so that the anticipated spike in electricity demand is met.