At present, the Railways is supplying 405 rakes per day (RPD) to the Power sector. During September 2021 to February 2020, the number of rakes to the sector rose from 373 to 396 RPD. This was to deal with the declining coal supply at power plants, which resulted in power shortage in several states leading to several hours of power cuts.

Focus on efficiency

Sources said that Railways has suggested to the Coal Ministry to reduce the loading time at colliery sidings. For instance, around 56 rakes daily are detained for more than 5 hours for loading. Besides, about 136 rakes per day are detained for more than 3 hours.

“Cutting down this time to 3 hours will free an additional 3-4 rakes per day. Also if the PSU miners avoid loading boulders and over-sized coal on rakes, it will improve WTR (Wagon Turn Around) and help adding another 10-15 rakes per day. The ministry should also focus on the health of tipplers and hoppers as well as preventive maintenance to improve unloading of rakes,” said one of the sources.

Preparation by Railways

That apart, the Railways has identified 66 critical and 58 super critical capacity enhancement works and 14 coal evacuation projects, which are monitored at the highest level.

When contacted, Railways Executive Director (Information & Publicity) Gaurav Bansal said the ministry has improved the WTR by 16 per cent during September 2021 to February 2022 and more efforts are underway to further improve the situation.

He further noted that in the long term, the Railways has plans to induct 1 lakh wagons with 40,000-45,000 of them coming in the next 2 years. Besides, condemnation on age basis has also been deferred.

Coal production

Coal production stood at 681.5 million tonnes (MT) during April-February in last fiscal year, with a growth of 9.8 per cent compared to the same period in FY21 and 7.6 per cent compared to the same period of FY20.

The overall coal despatch stood at 71.3 MT for the month ended February 2022. The share of coal despatched to the power sector improved to around 83 per cent in FY22 from an earlier 79 per cent of the total coal despatched in FY21, CareEdge Research said.

Power generation

Coal-based power generation has registered a growth of 10.3 per cent in FY22 over FY21, indicating improved coal supply for power generation. In addition to this, the share of coal-based generation in total power generated increased from 69 per cent in FY21 to around 70 per cent of the total power generated in FY22, it added.

During the April-February period in FY22, the pan-India energy requirement stood at 1,251 billion units (BU), while energy supplied stood at 1,246 BU. Similarly, peak power demand during the same period was 203.01 gigawatts (GW), whereas peak demand met stood at 200.54 GW.

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