A total of 1,081 trips of 42 passenger trains have so far been cancelled since last month to facilitate the movement of coal amid a power crisis in the country, PTI reported on Thursday, citing the Indian Railways.

While 40 of these trains have been cancelled till May 24, services of the other two will be restored on May 8.

Last week, the government had cancelled 657 trips of 16 passenger trains. Over 500 of these trips were by long-distance mail and express trains.

Power cuts due to low coal stocks at thermal power plants have been reported in several states, including Jammu and Kashmir Uttar Pradesh, Jharkhand, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Punjab, Maharashtra, Bihar and Andhra Pradesh.

In April, the electricity deficit in India hit 623 million units, exceeding the total shortfall recorded in March.

While some states have blamed the Centre for the coal deficit, Union Power Minister RK Singh has said that that the crisis was not due to coal shortages but because the state governments had not paid Coal India Limited for previous purchases.

On Thursday, the Indian Railways said that it will prioritise the movement of coal rakes over all passenger trains, except for Rajdhani Express and Shatabdi Express, according to Business Standard.

A spokesperson for the Railways said that of the 42 trains cancelled, 34 of them run in the South East Central Railways zone. The remaining, including the two which will be restored by May 8, run in the Northern Railways zone.

The Railways also said that it has raised the average daily loading of coal rakes to over 400 per day, which is the highest in the past five years.