Railway agri produce transport to be expanded
- Railways Dept. to discuss with Agri Ministry
BY Buddhika Samaraweera
The Railways Department is currently negotiating with the relevant parties within the Department regarding the expansion of the transportation of vegetables and fruits by train, with hopes of holding discussions with the Ministry of Agriculture regarding the same in the coming days.
Speaking to The Morning, Railways General Manager W.A.D.S. Gunasinghe said that discussions are currently underway with the staff of the Department regarding expanding the transportation of vegetables and fruits by train. He said that after those discussions, it is hoped to discuss this matter with the other relevant parties such as the Ministry of Agriculture.
“Currently, we have planned to load vegetables and fruits from railway stations like those in Pattipola, Haputale, and Bandarawela, and unload them at a railway station like Wanawasala. Here, the Department is involved only in the activities related to transportation. The private sector will be involved in other activities such as the loading and unloading of vegetables and fruits,” he said.
He also mentioned that attention has been paid to the preparation of separate train compartments for the transportation of vegetables and fruits using high tech methods, but that it will take a considerable amount of time. He said that, therefore, in the initial phase, it is planned to carry out the transportation of vegetables and fruits in ordinary compartments.
Then-Minister of Agriculture Mahindananda Aluthgamage stated last year that it had been planned to transport agricultural products such as fruits and vegetables by train. Although then-Railways Department General Manager Dhammika Jayasundara said that the programme was initially planned to be implemented by transporting vegetables and fruits from Nanu Oya to Colombo, the programme has not yet been implemented.
Meanwhile, the Railway Station Masters’ Union recently stated that in the face of the freight transport sector seeing a certain decline due to the current fuel crisis, a large amount of revenue could be generated by developing a programme to promote freight transport including of vegetables and fruits by trains.