Station masters slam Railways Department over ‘cancellations’

  • Note long distance train cancellation inconveniencing staff, passengers 

BY Buddhika Samaraweera 

The Sri Lanka Railway Station Masters Union (SLRSMU) has alleged that the Railways Department is causing inconvenience to Railway staff and passengers by continuously cancelling long distance train services.

Speaking to The Morning yesterday (12), the SLRSMU General Secretary Kasun Chamara claimed that despite the Railways Department announcing on several occasions that long distance train services which had been cancelled for more than a year due to the Covid-19 pandemic would be resumed, such train services have not been resumed yet.

He claimed that due to the irresponsible actions of the management of the Railways Department, the SLRSMU even had to resort to trade union action on behalf of the passengers, demanding that the long distance trains be resumed.

“Following the trade union action the SLRSMU had launched, the Railways Department announced on 25 December 2021 that several long distance trains would be resumed on 27 December 2021. However, those trains were cancelled again on 27 December 2021 at 4.30 p.m. It was again announced on 30 December 2021 that long distance trains would be resumed on 1 January 2022, but was postponed until 2 January 2022,” he alleged. Chamara further claimed that the Railways Department had on 7 January 2022 announced that the said services would be resumed from 10 January 2022 and that they were once again postponed until yesterday on 9 January 2022. He added that several long distance train services scheduled to commence yesterday were suddenly cancelled at 12.15 p.m. yesterday.

He said that with the announcement of the commencement of long distance train services, a large number of passengers had arrived at the railway stations, but that the sudden cancellations in this manner had caused great inconvenience to them.

“The allegations made by the passengers are reasonable because it is not at all ethical to announce on a particular day that the trains are going to be running on that day and to then announce on that same day that they are to be cancelled. The Railways Department administration should take full responsibility for discrediting the Department and the staff in this way,” charged Chamara.

The Railways Department General Manager Dhammika Jayasundara was not available for comment.

When contacted by The Morning to inquire about the plans to resume long distance train services, Jayasundara, on 3 January 2022, said that there was a shortage of railway guards and engine driving assistants which had resulted in the delay in the resumption of the said services. However, he said that immediate steps would be taken to recruit the railway guards and engine driver assistants under a contract basis, after which the long distance services would be resumed.