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Green light for inter-provincial buses and trains

a year ago

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By Buddhika Samaraweera Following the Government’s decision to lift the inter-provincial travel restrictions that were imposed due to the Covid-19 pandemic situation, inter-provincial train and bus services are to resume operations today (1 November). Accordingly, the Department of Railways has taken steps to operate more than 180 trains on five railway lines; namely, the Main line, Northern line, Puttalam line, Kelani Valley line, and Coastal line. The Railway Department had earlier allowed only passengers who have obtained monthly season tickets to travel by train. However, the Department has announced that train tickets will be issued from today under the normal procedure.  According to Sri Lanka Railway Station Masters’ Union (SLRSMU) General Secretary Kasun Chamara, a total of 50 trains will run on the Main line from the Kandy, Rambukkana, Polgahawela, Ambepussa, Mirigama, Veyangoda, Gampaha, and Ragama railway stations to the Colombo Fort railway station from today. On the Northern railway line, six trains will run from Mahawa and Kurunegala to Colombo Fort railway station. Another 66 trains will run on the Coastal line from Beliatta, Matara, Galle, Hikkaduwa, Aluthgama, Kalutara, Wadduwa, Panadura, Moratuwa, and Mount Lavinia railway stations to Maradana railway station. A total of 14 trains will run on the Kelani Valley line from Avissawella, Kosgama, Padukka and Homagama railway stations to Colombo Fort. Chamara added that 16 trains would run from Chilaw, Kochchikade and Negombo railway stations on the Puttalam line to Colombo Fort. “In addition, arrangements have been made to operate some other trains between regional railway stations,” he added. He also said that the Railway Department has made arrangements to operate long distance train services from Wednesday (3) after a period of about six months. However, the parcel train service will not be operational until further notice. Meanwhile, Vehicle Regulation, Bus Transport Services and Train Compartments, and Motor Car Industry State Ministry Secretary L.K. De Alwis last week said that the necessary instructions have been given to the Sri Lanka Transport Board (SLTB) to prepare a suitable plan for inter-provincial bus services to operate from today in accordance with the Covid-19-related health guidelines. “Buses will not be able to run as they did before the Covid-19 pandemic. Therefore, new plans and timetables need to be prepared for that. Accordingly, the Vehicle Regulation, Bus Transport Services and Train Compartments, and Motor Car Industry State Minister Dilum Amunugama has instructed the relevant officials of the SLTB to work on the matter,” he said. De Alwis further added that it would take at least a month to prepare such a plan, and within that time, certain areas to be improved would be identified. “We will have to operate buses in an ad-hoc manner for about one month. However, we have instructed the SLTB to deploy more buses if there is a large number of passengers in a certain area,” he said. Meanwhile, when inquired about the plans to operate buses from today, the Lanka Private Bus Owners’ Association (LPBOA) President Gemunu Wijeratne told The Morning that no such special plan has been prepared. “No special plan has been drawn up. We have received instructions to transport passengers according to the seating capacity,” he said. Taking into account the rapid spread of Covid-19 and the increase of the number of Covid-19 deaths in the country, President Gotabaya Rajapaksa, on 20 August, declared a lockdown status which was lifted on 1 October. However, the inter-provincial travel restrictions were removed yesterday (31 October).  

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