Indian Railways Ready To Roll Out Wagons With Oxygen Tankers

Indian Railways Ready To Roll Out Wagons With Oxygen Tankers

by Arun Kumar Das - Apr 19, 2021 10:53 AM +05:30 IST
Indian Railways Ready To Roll Out Wagons With Oxygen TankersIndian Railway’s Roll-On-Roll-Off service carrying trucks. (@rajtoday/Twitter)
  • The railways has conducted trial runs at various locations to ensure that transport parameters are fully tested for transportation of liquid medical oxygen.

Indian Railways has successfully conducted trial runs for transporting liquid medical oxygen and oxygen cylinders across the country to cater to the growing demand of oxygen amid the surging Covid-19 pandemic.

The railways has also geared up to provide isolation coaches at various Covid care centres for infected patients.

Northern Railway has provided 75 isolation coaches equivalent to 1,200 beds as Covid care centres at Shakurbasti and Anand Vihar terminals in the capital.

Availability of oxygen is a key element in the treatment of the Covid infection, and the railways has conducted trial runs at various locations to ensure that transporter parameters are fully tested.

Recently, Madhya Pradesh and Maharashtra governments had approached Ministry of Railways to explore whether liquid medical oxygen (LMO) tankers could be transported by the railways. The national transporter immediately explored the technical feasibility of transportation of LMO 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, various specifications of road tankers were considered, and the road tanker T-1618 model with height of 3,320 mm was found feasible to be placed on flat wagons with height of 1,290 mm.

According to the railways, the flat wagon was placed at Kalamboli goods shed in Mumbai on 15 April and a T-1618 tanker loaded with LMO was also brought there. 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, the railways promised on 16 April to provide all the necessary details and guidance on the matter.

It was decided that the tankers would be organised 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.

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 today (19 April). 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 wagon and all the required measurements were taken.

The railways have already placed flat wagons at Kalamboli and at other locations in expectation of movement of tankers to various locations. The railways is awaiting advice from Maharashtra to move the tankers.

Tentatively, a transport plan has been made for dispatching 10 empty tankers today (19 April). Transport Secretary of Maharashtra has assured to provide the tankers by today.

Zonal Railways has been informed regarding the demands from state governments. The Railway Board has directed general managers (GMs) concerned to be fully prepared and proactively assist the state and central government agencies in the transport of oxygen by rail and has also nominated a senior railway official as nodal officer in Railway Board.

Meanwhile, Northern Railway GM Ashutosh Gangal said that Northern Railway is extending a helping hand by providing additional healthcare facility to the people of Delhi NCR in the relentless war against the pandemic.

Fifty fully-operational Covid care coaches (with a patient carrying capacity of 800 persons) have been placed at Shakurbasti Railway Station for mild corona patients.

In addition to it, 25 Covid care coaches with a patient carrying capacity of 400 will be placed at Anand Vihar Station by today (19 April). Further isolation coaches will be placed as and when requirement arises, Gangal said.

All these stations have good infrastructure for maintaining these coaches and also proper approach roads for movement of ambulances etc.

Arun Kumar Das is a senior journalist covering railways. He can be contacted at

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