Amid the ongoing coal shortage and the power crisis, the Indian Railways said on April 29 it will cancel 657 mail and passenger trains in order to prioritise the movement of coal rakes across the country.
The 657 mail and passenger trains will be cancelled till May 24 to deal with an unprecedented shortage of the vital input at thermal power plants, the Railways said. This includes 296 passenger trains cancelled by the The South East Central Railway.
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Among the 657 trains cancelled, over 500 of these trips are for long-distance mail and express trains, while 148 trips are for passenger rails. Following this move, the Railways has raised the average daily loading of coal rakes to over 400, which is the highest in past five years.
Earlier, in past couple of weeks, the Railways was forced to cancel around 16 mail/express and passenger trains daily to allocate more way for rakes carrying coal.
Recently, the Coal ministry had requested Railways to run around 422 coal rakes on a daily basis to meet the present power demand. However, only 410 rakes are being operated on a daily basis.
On April 28, Power minister RK Singh said that power shortage in some states is taking place as payments have not been made to generation firms. As per Singh, states were not lifting domestic coal on a war footing, stepping up fuel imports and allowing pass-through of high fuel costs.
About 70 percent of India's electricity demand is fulfilled through coal. To ensure transparency in supply, the Railways has also imposed loading restrictions for rails and parcels on select routes.