Trains transport much needed coal as cold front arrives amid energy shortage
Published: Oct 15, 2021 08:36 PM
coal Photo:VCG


Over 22 million tons of coals have been shipped off from northern part of coal-producing Shanxi Province in North China by train in the first half of October, the China State Railway Group said on Friday.

Moving thermal coal by train is being closely watched as a cold front is forecast to arrive in much of eastern China from Friday to Monday.

In its first blue alert for a cold wave issued in the second half of 2021, the National Meteorological Center expects affected regions to experience a drop in temperature of up to 14 C on Friday.

However, a Chinese energy expert said China has the capacity to produce and transport coal in a timely manner for the winter heating season.

As of Thursday, China Railway Taiyuan Group said it has shipped 22.37 million tons in 300,000 train cars, with daily transport volume along the vital Datong-Qinhuangdao coal-transporting railway shipping an average of 1.03 million tons per day between October 1 and 14.

China Railway Taiyuan Group operates train lines pivotal to China's thermal coal transportation, linking coal mines in northern China to the Port of Qinhuangdao, where thermal coal is transported on ships to eastern and southern Chinese coastal cities.

The company said the enhanced shipment has allowed coal inventories to stay at above 15 days for the 15 coal-fired power plants it is responsible for. Coal inventories around ports in Bohai Bay also jumped back to 16.23 million tons by mid-October from 15.47 million tons at the end of September. 

The company said it aims to achieve daily freight wagon loads of 19,500 units in October to ensure coal supplies for electricity generation and heating. Such a throughput accounts for 39 percent of all thermal coal transportation by train in the country. 

Efforts will be made to ensure the stable operation of the national economy and a warm winter for residents, the company said.

China has been hit by a power shortage since September, with many localities putting a curb on electricity use.

The first batch of two consignments of thermal coal has arrived, or on its way to East China's Anhui Province, playing "an important role" in alleviating an acute shortage of the fuel, local newspaper Anhui Daily reported on Friday.

Some 46,000 tons of thermal coal are now being uploaded at the Port of Qinhuangdao in North China's Hebei Province, and two coal-carrying trains have arrived at coal-fired power plants outside Hefei, provincial capital of Anhui. The newspaper reported Shanxi's targeted coal supply campaign for Anhui is underway.

Shanxi was recently battered by strong rains and floods, causing massive economic damage with losses estimated at over 5 billion yuan ($777 million).

Jin Lei, an associate professor at the China University of Petroleum, told the Global Times on Friday that Shanxi, vital in China's coal supply chain, faced logistical disruptions in the wake of the recent floods.

However, China has the thermal coal production and transportation capacity to ensure stable heating during the winter season, especially if the country sticks to its preset winter heating schedule, Jin said.

Transportation resumed early Thursday for the Nantongpu railway, an important passenger and freight transport channel running through central and southern Shanxi damaged by floods. 

Fifty-six of the 60 flood-affected coal mines in Shanxi had resumed production, media reported on Wednesday.

China hopes to improve coal production by 55 million tons in the fourth quarter by clearing over 150 coal mines for production, the nation's top economic planner said on Wednesday.

Global Times