SR officials told DT Next, on the condition of anonymity, that they would be able to transport oxygen to Tondiarpet, the first point of oxygen offloading in the zone, from Rourkela in 24 to 36 hours. Most of the oxygen transported to the State during the second wave of COVID was from Rourkela. SR has transported around 7,500 metric tonnes of oxygen on 95 oxygen express trains till July 7.
A senior SR official confirmed the stoppage of express trains on July 7 and said the operation was subject to demand. “We operated trains as and when we received requests from Tamil Nadu Medical Services Corporation. Now, the demand has decreased. We have not received any request from the State government. Hence, the operation was stopped,” said the SR officer. On average, SR has been operating three or four trains to Tamil Nadu daily.
Asked about the logistic delay, if any, in transporting oxygen to the State in the event of future demand, a spokesperson of SR zone said the management of oxygen supply is the discretion of the union government and the zone merely operates trains to wherever it is asked to do so. “Most of the supply came from Rourkela. If we factor in the supply from there to Tondiarpet, the first point of offloading in the zone, it would take us 24 to 36 hours to mobilize oxygen tankers to Tamil Nadu in any given time, the officer added.