SLR makes progress, cuts delays
Sri Lanka Railways (SLR) has increased revenue, the number of
passengers, trains, improved rail tracks and reduced the delay time,
according to a senior official of the Ministry of Defence and Urban
Development. However, he said there is room to improve the standard of
comfort and increasing the per passenger kilometre revenue which is low
The Ministry of Defence and Urban Development Director (Technical)
Palitha Samarasinghe said that there is a considerable reduction in
delay and added that there is still room to improve the service.
SLR formerly known as the Ceylon Government Railway (CGR), the
State-run transportation entity, was launched during the colonial era in
1858 as a mode of transporting tea and coffee from the hill country to
Colombo.The railway network comprises 1, 508 kilometres with a gauge of
5 feet 6 inches (1,667 mm).
Sri Lanka has a disadvantage due to the short distance of travel
unlike India and China which have long-distance train services that
brings in more revenue.
The Maglev high speed train that operates from Shanghai Station to
the Shanghai airport travels at a speed of 430 km per hour and takes
around three minutes to reach its destination. Travelling by train in
Sri Lanka could be a hassle due to the poor signalling system and single
“We need to modernise our railway transportation to be efficient and
reduce cost. We need to improve the standard of comfort.
SLR has to grapple with morning and evening services which are not
lucrative unlike the long distance service,” Samarasinghe said.
He said that SLR should be given the autonomy to decide on ticket
pricing and a separate unit should be set up for long-distance and the
sub-urban sector to improve services.
There should be a proper monitoring system for morning and evening
services and effective marketing of the long distance service.
The revenue per passenger kilometre is Rs. 3.25 and the cost is
Rs.0.80. In the CTB it is Rs. 0.92 and the cost is Rs. 0.86, while
private buses revenue per passenger km is Rs. 1.06 and the cost is
A transportation expert said that SLR spends more on importing paper
for tickets and added that an alternative source should belooked into to
He said that SLR should focus on improving facilities in trains such
as sanitation and and comfortable seats.
Steps should be taken to regularise the train service and minimise
delays. There should be a double track from Polgahawela to Jaffna on the
The upcountry line from Rambukkana toBadulla also should be made
double line for effective transportation.
A massive discount on rail fares are granted to public servants and
schoolchildren. The key revenue earning stations are Colombo-Fort,
Gampaha, Kandy and Anuradhapura.
The number of trains has been increased during the past 10 years. The
SLR runs through 30 commercially vital cities, 26 other cities, 189
small towns and 118 villages.