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Indian Railways is getting ready to transport Liquid Medical Oxygen (LMO) and oxygen cylinders across the key corridors in the country as the nation is witnessing a continuous rise in covid-19 cases. Availability of oxygen is a key element in the treatment of certain medical conditions in the Covid infection.

Amid spiralling coronavirus cases in the country, the demand for medical oxygen in the country has gone through the roof

"Madhya Pradesh and Maharashtra state governments had approached Ministry of Railways to explore whether liquid medical oxygen (LMO) tankers could be moved by Railways," said a release from the Railway Ministry.

Railways explored the technical feasibility of transportation of LMO. LMO has to be transported through Roll On Roll Off (RO RO) service with road tankers placed on flat wagons.

"Due to restrictions of height of Road Over Bridges (ROBs) and Over Head Equipment (OHE) at certain locations, out of the various specifications of road tankers, the model of road tanker T 1618 with height of 3320 mm was found feasible to be placed on flat wagons (DBKM) with height of 1290 mm," the release added.

In order to ensure that parameters of transportation are tested, trials were conducted at various locations. This DBKM wagon was placed at Kalamboli goods shed in Mumbai on 15.04.2021 and a T 1618 tanker loaded with LMO was also brought here. Joint measurements were taken by representatives of Industry and Railways.

Based on these measurements, route clearances were taken and it was found that it would be possible to undertake movements as RO RO as ODC (over dimensional consignment) with speed restrictions on some sections depending on overhead clearances.

In order to enable commercial booking and freight payment for RO RO movement of LMO in cryogenic tankers, Ministry of Railways has brought out a circular on 16 April providing all the necessary details and guidance on the matter. Copy of the circular is enclosed.

On 17 April, a meeting was held between Railway Board officials and with State Transport Commissioners and representatives of industry on the subject of issues related to transportation of Liquid Medical Oxygen.

"It was decided that the tankers would be organized by Transport Commissioner, Maharashtra. These empty tankers would be moved from Kalamboli/Boisar, Railway stations in and near Mumbai, and sent to Vizag and Jamshedpur/Rourkela/Bokaro, for loading of liquid medical oxygen tankers from there ,"said a railway official.

In pursuance of the above decision, instructions have been issued to Zonal Railways to ensure readiness to receive the trailers and load them back. Ramps have to be built at Vizag, Angul and Bhilai and the existing ramp at Kalamboli is to be strengthened. The Kalamboli ramp would be made ready by 19.04.2021. Ramps at other locations would also be ready in a couple of days by the time the tankers reach those locations.

On 18 April a trial was organised at Boisar (Western Railway) where a loaded tanker was placed on a flat DBKM and all the required measurements were taken.

Railways have already placed DBKM wagons at Kalamboli and at other locations in expectation of movement of tankers to various locations. Railways are awaiting advice from Maharashtra to move the tankers.

Tentatively a movement plan has been made for dispatching 10 empty tankers by tomorrow. Transport Secretary Maharashtra has assured to provide the tankers by 19 April.

Zonal Railways have been informed regarding the demands from State Governments. CFTMs and PCOMs are in touch with the Industry and State Governments. Railway Board has directed concerned GMs to be fully prepared and proactively assist the State and Central Government Agencies in movement of Oxygen by Rail and has also nominated ED/TT/F as Nodal Officer in Railway Board.

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