In a response to a Right to Know (RTI) petition filed by Chandra Shekhar Gaur, the railways said it had canceled 6,995 train services for maintenance or construction purposes, while 1,934 services were canceled from March to May due to coal. movement.
Officials said that due to a severe power shortage, the railways have been forced to prioritize the movement of coal rakes over passenger services.
They also said that the national carrier is set to deliver 58 super critical projects and 68 critical projects worth more than Rs 1.15,000 crore over the next few years, and hence, maintenance works and construction are also carried out as a priority on its network.
However, this has severely affected the movement of passengers across the country, particularly during the peak summer months.
According to RTI, from January to May, the railways canceled 3,395 mail/express train services, while 3,600 passenger train services were canceled during the same period due to maintenance or building works.
While in January and February no train services were canceled due to coal movement, 880 mail/express train services and 1,054 passenger train services were canceled due to rake priority coal in the past three months.
Railways are also struggling to provide confirmed tickets to passengers due to a shortage of trains, a surge in demand for tickets in recent years, and a lack of new trains.
According to official figures, in 2021-2022, more than 1.60 crore passengers who had bought tickets were unable to travel because they were on the waiting list, indicating a shortage of trains on busy routes. .
Due to the prioritization of coal rakes, the railways actually recorded their best monthly freight loading of 131.6 million tonnes (MT) in May 2022.
Loading of coal into power plants – both domestic and imported – increased by more than 11 MT in May, with 52.4 MT of coal transferred to power plants from 41.01 MT last year, registering growth by 28%. Cumulatively, in the first two months of this year, Indian Railways loaded over 18 MT of additional coal into power stations compared to the same period last year with a growth of 24%.
According to the figures, the passenger sector needs in 2019-2020 were 8.4 billion and the average drop in the waiting list was 8.9%. During the high season, 13.3% of passengers were unable to obtain confirmed reservations.
With demand for more trains from passengers, the railways have introduced about 800 new trains in the past six years since the merger of the railways budget with the general budget in 2016.
On average, the railways operate just over 11,000 trains per day.