On request from UP, second Oxygen Express to run to Lucknow

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New Delhi, Apr 21 (PTI) The railways on Wednesday said it will run its second Oxygen Express to Uttar Pradesh after a request was received from the state government.

The Oxygen Express, carrying around seven to eight empty tankers, will leave from Lucknow on Wednesday night to fill up liquid medical oxygen from Bokaro, the national transporter said.

The railways also said that it had received a similar request from Madhya Pradesh to transport liquid oxygen from Rourkela and Bokaro to Bhopal and its logistics are now being worked out.

The first such train with seven empty rakes to bring oxygen to Maharashtra will reach Vizag by midnight.

Earlier, the Maharashtra and the Madhya Pradesh government had written to the railways to explore whether liquid medical oxygen tankers could be moved by the rail network.

The railways has formulated a policy by which it said that cryogenic tankers will be transported as a paid-for roll on-roll of (Ro-Ro) service to various destinations across states.

The policy said the staff accompanying liquid oxygen trucks to be loaded on the Ro-Ro service will be charged second class ticket for the journey and only two people will be allowed to accompany the truck.

The empty flow direction of the containers will also be charged by the railways.

The Centre on Friday asked states to allow free inter-state movement of oxygen carrying vehicles considering the rising demand of medical oxygen owing to swelling numbers of COVID-19 cases.

The supply of medical oxygen has become a bone of contention between Delhi and Uttar Pradesh as the second wave of coronavirus sweeps through the country, leaving the healthcare system in many states swamped.

Maharashtra, Uttar Pradesh, Delhi, and Rajasthan are among 10 states that account for over 76 per cent of the 2,95,041 new cases registered in the country, the Union Health Ministry said on Wednesday.

Maharashtra has reported the highest daily cases at 62,097. It is followed by Uttar Pradesh with 29,574 while Delhi reported 28,395 new cases.

The other states in the list are Karnataka, Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Kerala and Tamil Nadu.

India's total active caseload has reached 21,57,538 and it now comprises 13.82 per cent of the country's total infections. A net increase of 1,25,561 cases have been recorded in the total active caseload in a span of 24 hours.

Maharashtra, Chhattisgarh, Uttar Pradesh, Karnataka and Kerala cumulatively account for 60.86 per cent of India's total active cases.

''Oxygen Express is being sent from Lucknow to Bokaro to load liquid oxygen from Bokaro, which will ensure oxygen supply in Uttar Pradesh.

''In view of the demand of oxygen from Madhya Pradesh, this train will also be run there. More such trains will be started in a few days,'' tweeted Railway Minister Piyush Goyal.