The Indian Railways has posted a 7.26 per cent rise in its freight traffic during April-May this fiscal with coal traffic showing considerable increase because of rise in power demand in the last two months.
During the last two months, the Railways recorded an originating loading of 199.9 million tonne (MT), compared to 186 MT during the same time last year, posting an incremental growth of 13.53 MT. Out of this, coal traffic saw the maximum increase of 17.4 per cent to 101.66 MT as against 86.61 MT during the April-May period of 2017-18. This comes after a rise in domestic coal demand after 5,300 MW of import-based power plants in 5-6 coastal states stopped generation. The increase in coal traffic came to the tune of 15.05 MT.
Interestingly, there was a rapid increase of 31.6 per cent in net tonne km (NTKMs) for coal during the first two months of 2018-19 to 49,915 million NTKMs compared to last year. One tonne of load carried over 1 km is taken as one NTKM.
According to railways minister Piyush Goyal, coal loading during April to May increased to 431.5 rakes a day, posting an increase of 18.8 per cent compared to 363 rakes per day last year. To meet the rising demand, the government has already asked state-run NTPC to increase the plant load factor in some of their units to the maximum of 90-95 per cent and directed coastal states to procure power from pithead plants.
On the other hand, other sectors, like cement and fertilisers, too, posted marginal increase in traffic compared to last year. During the period under review, raw materials to steel plant except iron ore (RMSP) saw a marginal increase of 0.55 MT to 3.95 MT versus last year. The cement loading during April-May 2018 was 20.40 MT, which was 0,83 per cent more than the same period last year.
Fertiliser sector too saw a 13.5 per cent increase in loading to 7.4 MT in April-May. The loading from container traffic increased by 11.11 per cent during the two months, while balance other goods also saw a 5.28 per cent increase.
Goyal said power plants around Delhi – like Dadri, Badarpur and Jhajjar – are not facing any shortage of coal in the last few months. The Railways may have to raise coal availability to Delhi, as the region is expected to breach its highest ever power demand mark of 7,000 MW in June this year.