Privatisation of Railways an Option, Warns Govt.

The Sri Lankan  government will have to consider an alternative solution to improve the railway service if strikes continue causing an inconvenience to train passengers, Transport and Civil Aviation Minister Nimal Siripala de Silva said.

The railway service will lose if people start using other alternative transport modes due to the continuous railway strikes. Hence, we have to find solutions to make the institution profitable.

Since the Railway Department incurs a whopping loss amounting to Rs. 7,000 million, we will be compelled to opt for privatisation as an alternative measure. Therefore, it is our responsibility to prevent that from happening. We would also not hesitate to import driver-less trains which already have been developed in many countries.

Since we are ready to listen to the grievances of the Trade Unions, they must also be flexible without always resorting to strikes. It is our duty to improve rail transport which renders a great service to the public.

The Minister was speaking at a ceremony celebrating the 94th Anniversary of the Sri Lanka Railways Station Masters Union and the 78th Annual Conference held in Colombo yesterday.

He said plans are afoot to develop the quality of train service in order to provide a better service to passengers. The Kelani Valley railway track will be rehabilitated and converted to a dual line to provide an efficient service to the people. 

Unauthorized construction along the railway lines is the main obstacle delaying the development of railway lines. Therefore, an estimated Rs.10 billion has been allocated for the provision of alternative houses for these residents.

Even though, railway station masters wear clean, white suits, most of the railway stations across the country have poor cleanliness. We have been striving for many years to achieve complete sanitation of railway stations.

Open defecation through railways, unclean toilets, clogged basins, litter in bogeys and along tracks are the cause for complains by train passengers. It is the main responsibility of station masters to keep their stations clean by improving the sanitary facilities and safety of passengers.

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