To meet oxygen demands in Covid-19 hospitals, the Indian Railways is to start running 'Oxygen Expresses' to ensure unhindered supply of the gas and also set up "green corridors" for swift supply.
"First Oxygen Express with liquid medical oxygen (LMO) tankers is going to start its journey for Mumbai from Visakhapatnam tonight," the Railways said in a statement.
Tankers filled with LMO at Visakhapatnam are being transported through roll on-roll off service.
Another Oxygen Express started its journey from Lucknow to Bokaro via Varanasi to fulfil the requirements of oxygen in Uttar Pradesh.
For the movement of the train, a green corridor was created between Lucknow to Varanasi. "The distance of 270 km was covered by the train in 4 hours 20 minutes with an average speed of 62.35 kmph," Indian Railways said.
Transportation of oxygen through trains is faster over long distances than road transport. Trains can run 24 hours in a day but truck drivers need to take halts.
The Railways also said that ramps will be required to facilitate loading/unloading of tankers in/from flat wagons.
Also, due to restrictions of height of road over bridges (ROBs) and overhead electrification (OHE) at certain locations, out of the various specifications of road tankers, the model of road tanker T 1618 with height of 3,320 mm was found feasible to be placed on flat wagons (DBKM) with height of 1,290 mm.
Indian Railways transported essential commodities and kept the supply chain intact even during the lockdown last year as it continues to serve the nation in times of emergencies.