06 Dec 2017
The Railways has seen a sharp uptick in coal movement over long distances in October, a trend that is likely to continue in November.
This is a reversal of the trend seen in the past few months, when the Railways was trying hard to garner the long-distance business. In October, the national transporter moved coal for an average of 508 km, up 9 per cent from the same period last year.
Coal is an important commodity for the Railways as it accounts for almost half of the total freight loaded. The Railways moves coal largely (90 per cent) to power houses and other users, with steel plants accounting for the balance amount.
The long-distance movements — of over 520 km — are mainly for the non-steel user segments.
The average distance that trains travelled to transport coal from domestic mines to power houses was 523 km in October, up 22 km, a growth of 4.4 per cent against the same month last year. For the “other customers” category (non-thermal and non-steel customers) – the Railways chugged coal for 526 km, a 49-per-cent year-on-year jump, according to Railways’ data.
The longer distance for which coal is moved is higher for October not just on a year-on-year basis, but also in the April-October period. For these months, the average distance for which coal was transported was at 466-465 km in the current and last fiscal, respectively.
The Railways’ rail-route policy was key to the rise in distance and loading. This was enabled by creation of additional rail track infrastructure capacity along the South Eastern coast of India.
Prior to this, a large part of the distance was covered along the eastern coast.
The trend continued in November, as coal loading for thermal power plants reached a high in November, after a sharp increase in demand from States such as Punjab, Gujarat and Maharashtra. The Railways diverted wagons from cement and clinkers to meet the higher demand, said a government official. Data for November are yet to be released.
Source: The Hindu Business Line