Railways Department ready to get back on the rails
- Main, Puttalam, Kelani Valley, and Coastal lines greenlit to operate
- Only those with season tickets to be allowed to travel
BY Buddhika Samaraweera
Following the health authorities’ approval to resume train services within provinces from today (25), the Railways Department has taken steps to operate nearly 150 trains on the four railway lines; namely, the Main line, Puttalam line, Kelani Valley line, and Coastal line.
However, the Railways Department announced that from today, until further notice, only passengers who have obtained monthly season tickets will be able to travel by train. Accordingly, passengers who have obtained the August season ticket are permitted to use trains.
According to Sri Lanka Station Masters’ Union (SLSMU) General Secretary Kasun Chamara, a total of 44 trains will run on the Main line from the Ambepussa, Mirigama, Veyangoda, Gampaha, and Ragama railway stations to Colombo Fort railway station from today.
Another 50 trains will run on the Coastal line from Aluthgama, Kalutara, Wadduwa, Panadura, Moratuwa, and Mount Lavinia railway stations to Maradana railway station. Eight trains will run on the Kelani Valley line from Avissawella and Padukka railway stations to Colombo Fort. In addition, Chamara said that 17 trains would run from the Chilaw, Kochchikade, and Negombo railway stations on the Puttalam line to Colombo Fort.
“In addition, arrangements have been made to operate nearly 30 more trains between regional railway stations,” he added.
Chamara also claimed that health authorities had instructed the Railways Department to allow passengers who have obtained season tickets to travel by train, but the railway stations have not received any clear instructions from the Railways Department in that regard.
“There will be certain issues when allowing only season ticket holders to travel by train; especially due to the long period of non-operation of the trains, many passengers have either not obtained season tickets or lost their previous ones,” he stated.
When asked about this, Railways Department General Manager Dhammika Jayasundara stated that the staff at the railway stations will check the season tickets. He further stated that the decision to allow only passengers with season tickets to travel by train was taken by the health authorities, and not by the Railways Department.
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, claiming that there is a high risk of Covid-19 spreading through the train services, the health authorities had advised not to operate the trains.