Around 1,100 trips of passenger trains have been cancelled across India to allow faster movement of coal carriages to tackle critically low stocks at power plants in the middle of blackouts and outages in many states.
Earlier, about 650 trips of trains were cancelled by the Indian Railways which extended it to double amid a worsening power crisis.
About 1,100 trips will be cancelled till May 24 — 500 rounds of mail express and 580 trips of passenger trains.
The trains, including from the Northern and South East Central Railway zone, have been cancelled to ensure swift movement of coal.
The Railways is trying to take steps “at war-footing” to transport coal and also cut down the time it takes to move coal to power plants, officials had earlier said.
The move (to cancel trains) is temporary and passenger services will be restored as soon as the situation normalizes, Gaurav Krishna Bansal, an executive director at Indian Railways, told Bloomberg last week.
Blackouts and power cuts have hit life and industry in several parts of India in the middle of an unprecedented heatwave.
Some industries are cutting output due to coal shortage, threatening economic recovery at a time the government is tackling high energy prices fueled by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
Electricity demand has spiked in the record heatwave.
Outstanding bills have added to the massive coal crisis. Huge outstanding dues worth about Rs 7,918 crores of state-run power generating companies have resulted in less dispatch of coal especially to the states with high dues like Maharashtra, Rajasthan and West Bengal, according to an official note accessed by news agency PTI.
Moreover, Uttarakhand, Gujarat, and Delhi, have not made advance arrangements with their gas-based plants, which has affected about 4,000 mw capacity and has put more pressure on domestic coal, the note to the cabinet secretary said.
About 70 per cent of India’s electricity is generated by coal. The lack of carriages makes it difficult to carry coal over long distances. Routes congested with passenger trains often delay shipments.
The coal ministry, however, had earlier said that the current power crisis is mainly on account of the sharp decline in electricity generation from different fuel sources and not due to the non-availability of domestic coal.