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Station masters warn of further losses to Railways Department

  • Criticise move to allow only monthly season ticket holders to travel

BY Buddhika Samaraweera

The Sri Lanka Railway Station Masters’ Union (SLRSMU) has pointed out that the Department of Railways, which is already a loss-making institution, will lose further revenue due to the decision taken to allow only those who have obtained monthly season tickets to travel by trains.

Speaking to the media yesterday (25), SLRSMU President Sumedha Somaratne said that passengers who have not obtained the monthly season tickets, but who need to travel for essential services, should be allowed to travel by train, subject to proper adherence to the Covid-19-related health guidelines.

“We have previously proposed several ways in which tickets can be issued under the general procedure subject to health guidelines. Running a train for a small number of passengers in this way is a huge financial loss to the Railway Department, which is already a loss-making institution,” he said.

Somaratne further said that as station masters, they are ready to issue tickets to passengers under the normal procedure, to travel for essential services.

“We are not saying that railway services should be operated in such a way as to transport a large number of passengers and spread Covid-19 again, but a programme needs to be put in place under certain regulations, thereby enabling at least those who travel for essential services to travel by trains.”

Following health authorities’ approval to resume train services within provinces from yesterday, the Railway Department has taken steps to operate nearly 150 trains on four railway lines, namely; the Main line, the Puttalam line, the Kelani Valley line, and the Coastal line.

However, the Department announced that from yesterday, until further notice, only passengers who have obtained monthly season tickets will be able to travel by train. Accordingly, only passengers who have obtained the August season ticket are currently permitted to use trains.

Commenting on this, Railway Department General Manager Dhammika Jayasundara, last Sunday (24) said that the staff at the railway stations would check the season tickets. He further said that the decision to allow only passengers with season tickets to travel by train was taken by the health authorities, and not the Railways Department.