Workers prepares to fill medical oxygen cylinders for hospital use on Covid-19 coronavirus patients on the outskirts of Jabalpur on April 18, 2021.
Workers prepares to fill medical oxygen cylinders for hospital use on Covid-19 coronavirus patients on the outskirts of Jabalpur on April 18, 2021.
(Photo by AFP)

Mumbai: Life-giving oxygen will soon arrive on wheels, to breathe relief into the turbulent second wave of Covid-19 lashing Mumbai and Maharashtra. This will be the first time that the Indian Railways will be sending liquid medical oxygen in tankers loaded on military flat wagons ferried by rail. First, at least 15 such empty tankers that can carry 20-25 metric tonnes of liquefied oxygen each, will depart from the Kalamboli goods shed in Navi Mumbai on April 19.

The railway officials said that the tanker-on-military wagon arrangement was tried and tested out for the last 3-4 days, to ensure that they remained firmly secured in place while in motion. Due to height restrictions of road overbridges (ROBs) and overhead equipment cables at certain locations, of the various specifications of road tankers, model T-1618, with height of 3,320mm was found suitable for placement on flat wagons with a height of 1,290mm.

These trials were conducted at various locations. “The first lot of 15 empty tankers are expected to depart Kalamboli and in the next round, more empty tankers will arrive at Boisar,” said a senior railway official.

The empty oxygen express can haul 32 wagons, each 18 metres long. Sources said that each tanker is around 12 metres long, so on each wagon, there will be one tanker with a carrying capacity of 20-25 metric tonnes of oxygen, will be ferried. As on April 18, the Maharashtra government could make arrangements for 15 such tankers carrying liquid oxygen.

These are being sent to Vizag, Jamshedpur, Rourkela and Bokaro, for loading liquid medical oxygen tankers. The railway officials said that a ‘green corridor’ would be created to ensure fast movement of these oxygen express trains.

The Maharashtra and Madhya Pradesh governments had approached Railway Ministry to explore possibility of moving liquid medical oxygen tankers through Roll On-Roll Off (RORO) service. The first lot of wagons were placed at the Kalamboli goods shed on April 15 and the T-1618 tanker loaded with LMO was also brought here. The Railway ministry brought out a circular on April 16 providing the necessary details and guidance on the matter.

On April 17, a meeting was held between the Railway Board, Maharashtra transport department officials and representatives of the industry on issues related to transportation of liquid medical oxygen. Ramps have been built at Vizag, Angul and Bhilai and the existing ramp at Kalamboli too has been strengthened.

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