New Delhi: Even as the trials of several Covid vaccines are in progress, the Indian Railways is in talks with the government over the transportation of the vaccine through its refrigerated wagons, however, no final decision has been taken on the same, officials said on Monday.
A senior railway ministry official, wishing anonymity, said that once the decision is taken for transporting the vaccine, they will announce.
He said that there are several "technical issues" with implications as to the temperature required for the transportation of the vaccine and others.
"And these points are being discussed. So once the decision is taken, we will update everyone," the official added.
On Friday, Railway Board Chairman and CEO V.K.Yadav had said "We are in talks with the government and we are discussing the possibilities", to a question over the transportation of Covid vaccines in railways' refrigerated vans.
He further said that as of now "no decision" has been taken. "We are in continuous touch with several ministries for the transportation of Covid vaccines," Yadav had said.
The national transporter operates several refrigerated vans for the transportation of perishable cargo like vegetables, fruits, dairy products, fish and meat attached in several of its mail or express trains.
The vans have a capacity to carry 5 tonnes of frozen items and an additional capacity of 12 tonnes for perishable cargo like fruit and vegetables.
In August this year, the Indian Railways started Kisan Special Parcel Trains to transport perishable goods, a promise made in the Union Budget 2020-21.
The Railways has developed a new design of refrigerated parcel vans with the carrying capacity of 17 tonnes for the transportation of highly perishable parcel traffic. It was procured through Rail Coach Factory Kapurthala.
The Indian Railways currently has a fleet of nine such refrigerated vans and they can be booked on a round-trip basis.
According to railways, the Kisan Rail train with frozen containers is expected to build a seamless national cold supply chain for perishables, inclusive of fish, meat and milk.
Railways has 98 Reefer (Ventilated Insulated) rail containers with a carrying capacity of 12 tonnes per container which were procured through CONCOR for movement of fruits and vegetables to different parts of the country.
The temperature-controlled perishable cargo centres were commissioned at Ghazipur Ghat in Uttar Pradesh, New Azadpur in New Delhi, and Raja ka Talab again in UP, as a pilot project under the Kisan Vision Project by CONCOR through a CSR initiative while another project is under construction at Lasalgaon in Maharashtra's Nasik.
The railways has also given approval to the Central Railside Warehousing Corporation (CRWC) to develop temperature-controlled storages at Fatuha and Mancheswar. Cold storage facility has also been developed at Dadri in Uttar Pradesh.
The Fresh and Healthy Enterprise Ltd (FHEL) has been redeveloped as the Agriculture Logistic Centre at Rai in Haryana's Sonepat, which is CONCOR's 100 per cent-owned subsidiary, developed on land measuring 16.40 acres.
(With IANS Inputs)