China will ‘boost rail freight to ensure coal capacity’
China will add at least 200 million tonnes of rail freight capacity in 2018, including at least 150 million tonnes of thermal coal capacity, a senior government official has said.
Lian Weiliang, deputy head of the National Development and Reform Commission, told Reuters the government is working with the national rail operator to ensure coal supplies after a surge in demand for power.
China is trying to push more transportation of goods from coal to agricultural produce onto the rail network and reduce transport by road as part of its effort to reduce pollution. Adding 200 million tonnes to the rail network would mark an increase of 5 percent from 2017 rail cargo volumes of 3.69 billion tonnes. That’s still much lower than the road volumes, by far the most popular way to transport freight, of almost 37 billion tonnes.
At a briefing ahead of China’s Spring Festival, Weiliang said that the government and rail operator were prioritising current coal deliveries for power plants. Utilities have warned of heating and electricity shortages after blizzards engulfed railroads and highways, cutting off critical supplies of fuel ahead of the upcoming holiday period.
“We have worked with China Railway Corp to outline measures to target power plants that have less than seven days of coal stocks,” Lian said, adding that checks had been carried out on 26 such plants.