Railways suspend 42 passenger trains in order to assist coal transportation in the face of an impending power shortage

Railways to Help Power Plants: The Indian Railways has canceled roughly 42 passenger trains so far to ensure a faster delivery to and from coal-producing regions of Chattisgarh, Odisha, Madhya Pradesh, and Jharkhand, under the threat of a power outage owing to a coal shortage.

Despite the fact that the Railways have stated that this is an “interim measure” and that cancellations have primarily occurred on non-priority sectors and less busy routes, many passengers have been left stranded ahead of the forthcoming summer vacation season.

34 trains from the coal-rich South East Central Railway (SECR) and eight from Northern Railways, where many of the power plants are located, have been canceled to allow freight trains carrying coal to move more easily.

Protests have erupted as a result of the significant number of trains that have been canceled. The Chhattisgarh State Congress has threatened to prevent the movement of coal from local mines, which might exacerbate the state’s already-stressed power sector.

“It is not practicable for just seven trains to cover the routes or carry the burden of the passengers,” Sushil Anand Shukla, Chairman of the State Congress Media Cell, stated. So we’ll keep protesting and doing whatever it takes to get things back to normal. The impoverished are the ones who suffer the most as a result of such decisions.”

Mr. Shukla said it was unlikely that CM Bhupesh Baghel, who left for Delhi on Friday evening, would see the Union Railway Minister find a more amicable solution to the matter because Mr. Baghel was going to attend an event.

Following the cancellations, the Railways increased the average daily loading of coal rakes to almost 400 per day, the highest level in the last five years, according to official data. Officials with the national transporter said 533 rakes have been assigned to coal duty every day, with as many as 427 rakes loaded on Thursday, carrying a total of 1.62 million tonnes. 

In the SCER and NR railway zones, around 753 trips including 363 mail/express trains and 390 passenger trains have been canceled, according to officials.

Railways to fulfill the backlog of coal

Because of the Covid-induced disruption in the previous two years, a lot of pent-up demand was created during the summer holidays, and several weddings are also booked in April and May, according to a travel operator in Chhattisgarh who asked to remain anonymous. Because there are fewer trains, individuals will be compelled to cancel their plans or change trains or utilize other modes of transportation.

Jonny Krishnani, who owns a mobile phone shop in the state capital, said his family was supposed to go to Jalandhar on April 27 but had to cancel due to the situation. The Chhattisgarh Express, for which they had reserved tickets, was then canceled, but a few other trains were afterward reinstated.

“So, on May 27, the train finally left on time, but we had canceled by that time. One can’t help but feel cheated “Mr. Krishnani was at the Raipur train station on Friday evening to cancel another ticket.

Aside from long-distance commuters, the suspended services will affect many daily commuters who travel to larger cities for work or to look for work.

According to data released by the Power Ministry, CIL’s coal output climbed by 27.2 percent in April 2022 over the same period the previous year, while coal despatch increased by 5.8 percent. CIL has a coal stock of 56.7 Mt, Singareni Collieries Company Limited (SCCL) has 4.3 Mt, and captive coal blocks total 2.3 Mt. “As a result, there is sufficient coal stock with coal businesses,” the Ministry stated. 

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