ECONOMYNEXT – Train ticket prices must be revised to minimise Sri Lanka Railways’ losses, Transport Minister Bandula Gunawardena told parliament on Tuesday (08) proposing a national policy on railway fares.
The government is also discussing ways to utilise assets of the Sri Lanka Railway Department to make the railway service more productive and efficient, Gunawardena said.
The loss-making Sri Lanka Railways offers its services at concessionary rates, and despite fuel price hikes and sharply rising cost of living, train tickets remain cheap.
However, reserved seat fares were increased in March 2022 on intercity express trains and other long distance trains on the Northern and main railway lines.
Minister Gunawardena told parliament on Tuesday that fuel costs for train trips have gone up by an unusually high percentage.
“It costs 1.3 million rupees for a train trip from Colombo to Jaffna for fuel alone. If you charge 2,000 rupees a passenger, even if there 500 passengers, only one million rupees will be collected per trip.
“There’s a loss of 300,000 rupees for just one trip,” he said.
The minister proposed that a national policy for train fares must be formulated, stipulating that a train ticket cost half what a bus ticket would cost for the same distance.
“Otherwise, with the fuel expenditure, it is not possible to increase train trips. So a national policy is important,” he said. (Colombo/Jun08/2022)