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Coronavirus | High demand across States for oxygen trains

On track: Train wagons are being used to send tankers of liquid oxygen to the States that are facing a shortage in supply and a surge in COVID-19 cases.   | Photo Credit: AP

Facing severe shortage of medical oxygen, State governments, including the Delhi government, are turning to the Railways to request ‘Oxygen Express’ trains for movement of liquid medical oxygen tankers.

“We have received demand from States like Andhra Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh and also Delhi for movement of liquid oxygen by railways. We are closely coordinating with the States,” Railway Board Chairman and CEO Suneet Sharma said on Friday.

Mr. Sharma noted that two such trains were deployed to Maharashtra (from Visakhapatnam, Andhra Pradesh) and to Uttar Pradesh (from Bokaro, Jharkhand).

On the demand from Delhi, the Mr. Sharma said the supply would likely be brought from Rourkela in Odisha and the details were being worked out. “We have told them to keep their tankers ready, we have kept our wagons ready. Our ramps are ready at different locations in Delhi NCR. We expect this movement will shortly take place,” he said.

Also read: ‘Oxygen Express’ trains set off for Maharashtra, U.P.

He added that there is a demand from Andhra Pradesh to run a service between Vijayawada and Angul, Odisha, and from Uttar Pradesh for transportation of oxygen from the Reliance refinery in Jamnagar, Gujarat.

“The Railways is transporting not only passengers, but also goods and other important items that are required to be transported quickly. As you are already aware there are challenges, especially in transporting oxygen. We have been given a very, very challenging task to move liquid oxygen from one place to the other. It’s a very big challenge,” Mr. Sharma said.

On the use of train coaches as isolation facility, Mr. Sharma said about 3,816 coaches are available, and will be provided to States as per demand. Currently, 21 coaches (378 beds) have been provided to Maharashtra in Nandubar where 32 patients have been admitted. Delhi has also been provided 50 coaches (800 beds) at Shakurbasti and 25 coaches (400 beds) at Anand Vihar. However, presently no patients have been admitted there.

He also said that about 93,000 railway employees and dependents have been infected with COVID-19 and 5,000 beds are earmarked for them in 72 hospitals of the Indian Railways. “Not everybody needs hospitalisation, but we are in close touch with everyone,” he said.

On the running of trains, he said that 70% train services have been restored and to clear the extra rush about 328 additional trains were being run during April-May.

There is high demand for places like Gorakhpur, Patna, Darbhanga, Muzaffarpur, Bhagalpur, Varanasi, Guwahati, Manduadih, Barauni, Prayagraj, Bokaro, Ranchi, Lucknow and Kolkata, he said. “We are planning our trips to ensure there is no shortage of trains for any of these destinations. I would like to assure you, the Railways will run all the services that are required for movement of our passengers from any point of the country. We are keeping a close watch on the waiting list.”

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Printable version | May 8, 2021 1:58:33 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/coronavirus-high-demand-across-states-for-oxygen-trains/article34395968.ece

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