Coal shortage: Rlys ramps up coal rakes to augment supply to powerhouses

PTI New Delhi | Updated on October 22, 2021

In 2017, most coal plants produced, on an average, only 60% of the electricity they could as utilities bought wind and solar power   -  REUTERS

Amidst coal shortage at thermal power plants, Indian Railways has ramped up the number of coal rakes carrying the dry fuel across the country from 435 rakes per day in the end of September to 487 rakes daily as of Friday, October 22, according to data accessed by PTI.

The national transporter has also issued instructions to all zones to monitor the loading of coal from mines and increase the number of rakes being used to supply coal to powerhouses.

According to the data, out of the 378 rakes which were ferrying coal on October 1, 280 were sent to powerhouses, however, by Friday (October 22), out of a total of 487 rakes carrying coal, 391 were destined for powerhouses across the country.

The remaining were diverted to other industries.

Most of the coal is being transported from Coal India Limited (CIL) with the number of coal rakes being ramped up from a total of 254 rakes on October 1, out of which 218 were for powerhouses, to 331 rakes on October 22, out of which 303 were headed to power plants.

On Thursday, the Railways ran a four-km-long train with four engines to supply coal to power plants on a "war footing".

Special trains

The urgency to maintain supply via special trains comes in the middle of coal scarcity reported from across the country.

In fact, sources indicate that the Railways is mulling putting into service special trains just to ferry coal similar to the service undertaken during the shortage of oxygen at the peak of the coronavirus crisis.

“Till now, there has been no problem with availability of rake to transport coal. If there is any need in the future, coal express trains can also be put into service," a railway official said.

“We are working together with the companies to ensure supplies to the power sector by ramping up the number of rakes which are put into service and at the same time increasing their availability whenever needed,” the official said.

According to the Central Electricity Authority (CEA), as on Monday, India’s 135 coal fuelled power projects totalling 165.066 GW had four days of stocks.

India’s daily electricity consumption has crossed 4 billion units (BU) resulting in an 18 per cent spike in coal consumption during August-September compared to the corresponding period in 2019.

Published on October 22, 2021

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