A year back, when the pandemic raged, among many government bodies that played a critical role in battling against COVID-19, the Indian Railways did a stellar job. It quickly turned many coaches into isolation and care centres; Railway canteens served food for the needy, workshops made beds for quarantine centres while the freight division ensured that essential commodities reached various corners of the country during the nationwide lockdown. Our article in March 2020 had covered the comprehensive role played by Indian Railways.
Now with the COVID-19 cases spiking again, Indian Railways has once again stepped in to arrest the situation.
On April 19, 2021 the Ro-Ro service with 7 empty tankers departed from Kalamboli goods yard for Visakhapatnam steel plant. This train will move via Vasai Road, Jalgaon, Nagpur, Raipur Jn to Visakhapatnam steel plant siding in ECoR zone where it will be loaded with Liquid Medical Oxygen.
It may be noted that Madhya Pradesh and Maharashtra state governments had approached Ministry of Railways to explore whether Liquid Medical Oxygen (LMO) tankers could be moved by Railways.
Railways immediately 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.
Railways gears up to run Oxygen Express –
The Ro-Ro service, from Kalamboli, with 7 empty tankers moved to Visakhapatnam from where Liquid Medical Oxygen will be loaded.
— Ministry of Railways (@RailMinIndia) April 19, 2021
COVID-19 Isolation Coaches
Once again, the innovative idea of using rail coaches as isolation coaches has been put to execution to treat COVID-19 patients. This is also effective in taking away significant burden from hospital beds in the worst-affected areas.
Nearly 4,002 converted coaches are available with Railways in 16 zones and the same can be made available for the State Governments on request.
Worst-affected states like Maharashtra and Delhi are already availing this service.
Indian Railways is making all out efforts for fighting COVID-19
Isolation coaches have started functioning at Nandurbar, Maharashtra with COVID-19 patients being admitted. These coaches at Nandurbar, are covered with layered gunnies and water drip system for lowering temperature. pic.twitter.com/TXR06CNMip
— Ministry of Railways (@RailMinIndia) April 18, 2021
Govt under PM @NarendraModi leading the fight against COVID-19: 50 COVID-19 isolation coaches with 800 beds ready at Shakur Basti Station & 25 coaches will be available at Anand Vihar Station in Delhi. Railways can setup >3 lakh isolation beds across the country on States' demand pic.twitter.com/b9ehFnEgfI
— Piyush Goyal (@PiyushGoyal) April 18, 2021
Summer Trains Helped Migrant Workers
At a time when many states are introducing lockdown-like measures, it has resulted in migrant workers returning home with fears of uncertainty looming over them, just like last year.
Especially in states like Maharashtra, the decision of Indian Railways to increase the number of special summer trains has helped migrant workers find their way back to their respective hometowns. Though the trains were planned to meet the surge in demand due to summer break and family events, they were helpful for workers who rushed to their hometowns against the backdrop of an anticipated lockdown in Maharashtra.
A year back while throwing light on Railways service amidst pandemic we titled the piece saying In the Story of India’s COVID-19 Fight, Railways Will Have a Special Chapter. That description fits well even now in this prolonged phase of the pandemic.