The shortage of coal supply witnessed by thermal power plants last month has turned out to be a blessing in disguise for Indian Railways that alone hauls a bulk of India's coal. The national transporter witnessed a whopping 614% jump in earnings from transporting imported coal meant to feed thermal power plants in October, latest data shows.
The total loading of imported coal in October saw an increase of 54.74% at 8.65 million tonnes as against 5.59 million tonnes in October last year. Coal imported for thermal power plants during the month stood at 1.60 million tonnes as against 0.18 million tonnes in the corresponding month last year. The revenue from coal imported for thermal plants increased 614.17% to Rs 152.76 crore ($23.33 million) from Rs 21.39 crore in the same month last year.
Overall coal loading grew 7.36% to 45.5 million tonnes in October as compared to 42.41 million tonnes in the same months last year. Railways' total earnings from coal loading increased 16.27% to Rs 4,562.87 crore as against Rs 3,924.40 crore in October 2016.
The national carrier's coal loading target for the current financial year is 555 million tonnes, of which the target from April to October stood at 305.64 million tonnes. Loading increased 5.5% to 304.24 million tonnes between April and October 2017 as compared to the same seven months period last year.
According to Central Electricity Authority (CEA) data, 23 of the 114 plants had low coal stocks in September. In a bid to cater to the dwindling stock at power plants, the government had tasked railways to increase daily coal loading.
The ministry of coal in September set a target for Coal India Limited (CIL) to increase loading to 250 rakes per day. The average rake loading stood at 221 per day which is 6% higher than the rake loading in the month of October 2016, Coal Secretary Susheel Kumar said in an interview.
During October, Indian Railways' freight revenue was up 6.17% at Rs 9,600.42 crore as compared to Rs 9,042.8 crore during the same period last year. Freight traffic also grew 2.58% to 93.21 million tonnes from 90.87 million tonnes in October last year.
Freight accounts for nearly two-thirds of railways' revenue and falls into two broad categories – bulk and other goods. Coal alone accounts for 47.54% of the national carrier's total freight basket.
(Writing by Becky Du Editing by Tammy Yang)
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