Coal Transportation | Power crisis : Railways deploys 86% of its open wagons for coal transportation

To counter the power crisis in the country, the Railways has deployed 86 per cent of its open wagons to transport coal to various power plants in the country, sources said on Wednesday.

He said that out of the 1,31,403 boxn or loose wagons in its fleet, the railways is using 1,13,880 for coal transport under the plan prepared by the national transporter in consultation with the ministries of coal and power.

The data shows that the Railways has around 3,82,562 wagons, of which 1,31,403 are open wagons and 3,636 which need repairs till May 2.

Railways is loading an average of 28,470 wagons with coal daily to meet the demand of power plants.

A coal train usually has up to 84 wagons.

Railways has used an innovative way of using long distance trains to run three to five trains simultaneously at 122 locations in states like Jharkhand, Odisha, Chhattisgarh and Madhya Pradesh to speed up transportation.

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In the meeting with the top officials of the three ministries, about 18 key points in the transportation of coal have been identified.

This includes stopping of rakes during loading and unloading of coal, which is taking more than 10 days in some cases, sources said.

Sources say that the situation is that railways is commissioning around 40-50 damaged wagons to carry coal.

To speed up the movement of coal rakes, the railways has also increased the operating period of the rakes by 2,500 km, officials said.

This means that rakes that were earlier treated for wear after every 7,500 km are now sent to garages after 10,000 km, giving them more running time.

Trains with a loading capacity of about 71 MT are now carrying at least one tonne of additional load.

Sources reveal that this focus on coal is having an impact on the transportation of steel and aluminium.

He said that the steel industry is also facing shortage of BoxN rakes for movement of imported coking coal from ports like Paradip and Dharma to steel plants.

In 2021-22, railways transported 653 million tonnes (MT) of coal, which is about 20.4 per cent more than in 2020-21. Coal comprised about 46 per cent of the railways’ total freight traffic in 2021-22.

Of the 653 metric tons of coal transported by railways, about 83 percent, or about 540.4 metric tons, was for thermal power plants. The rest was for foundries of various manufacturing units.

According to Railway Ministry data, about 95 per cent of the coal transported by railways comes from Coal India reserves while the rest is imported.

“With our focus on ensuring that we transport coal to power plants to ensure that there are no blackouts in the country, loading of other commodities is affected.

A ministry official said, “Passenger trains have also been affected due to this. It is a matter of priority and a decision has been taken after careful consideration. PTI ASG NSD

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