Dhanbad-Chandrapura railway track closure hits coal supply to power plants

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Source: The Economic Times
Monday, June 26, 2017

 KOLKATA: Closure of a 34-kilometer stretch of railway track between Dhanbad and Chandrapura in Jharkhand has affected coal supplies to power plants in West Bengal, Odisha and northern India including Punjab, Haryana and Uttar Pradesh as well as those of Damodar Valley Corporation. 

The development has affected movement of 42,000 tonnes of coal per day and 2,400 megawatt of power generation capacities. Coal India subsidiaries Bharat Coking Coal Ltd and Central Coalfields Ltd have been using this track to send supplies to power plants. Railways closed traffic on the line due to underground coal fire, which rendered the track dangerous. Some 26 pairs of passenger trains as well as on average a dozen goods trains a day carrying coal have been cancelled. One rake carries around 3,500 tonnes of coal. 

“There were six railways sidings along this stretch from where Bharat Coking Coal used to load coal on this track. This now needs to be diverted to other routes. In an effort to divert the coal, Bharat Coking Coal is in talks with transport companies to reroute the coal so that it can be loaded at other sidings where movement of rakes have not been affected,” a senior executive from Bharat Coking Coal told ET. 
The issue, however, is that Dhanbad being a highly populated place, roads have heavy traffic. Moving coal on trucks through these roads is an issue. “We need dedicated roads for moving coal,” the executive said. An executive from Central Coalfields said although the company didn’t have any sidings on the stretch, shutting down of the track required rakes to be diverted, increasing the turnaround time. According to coal consumers, underground fire was indeed a safety risk. “However, the planning for rerouting the coal could have been done earlier,” an executive said. 

The issue assumes importance because stocks at power plants were declining over the past days due to higher power demand and inability of the railways to jack up supplies of rakes. Also, with monsoon rains beginning to hit major parts of India, production from mines will start to fall. 
A Coal India executive said: “We are in talks with the railways to reroute coal traffic so that supplies can be normalised. Railways have been cooperating, however, this being a busy track that got shut down, it will take some time to normalise.” 


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