Sri Lanka railways’ losses fall
ECONOMYNEXT – Operational loses at Sri Lanka’s state-run railway fell 30 percent to Rs7.7 billion in 2015 from the year before, but fares remained unchanged even though urgent modernisation was needed to improve service.
The number of passengers carried grew because of the resumption of services in the former war zone and worsening traffic on roads, but freight carriage fell, Sri Lanka Railways (SLR) said in its annual report for 2015.
“Introducing market-oriented fare schemes, while permitting concessionaries to the lowest fare segment, would help improve the financial position of SLR,” it said.
Sri Lanka Railways’ total revenue increased 7.2 percent to Rs6.3 billion, reflecting an increase in passenger transportation.
“Recurrent expenditure declined substantially by 17.1 percent to Rs14.0 billion, leading to a decrease in operational losses to Rs7.7 billion in 2015, when compared to the loss of Rs11.0 billion recorded in 2014,” the Central Bank said.
“However, rail tariffs were kept unchanged in spite of continuous operational losses made by SLR.”
Despite some improvements, the quality of train services remains “sub-standard”, the report noted.
Key concerns included the shortage of trains and compartments during peak hours; lower demand for train services during off-peak hours; the lack of value-added services, including luxury and intercity train services; the inability to operate on time on a sustainable basis; and inadequate emphasis on goods transportation.
“The availability of a reliable and comfortable train service could attract the general public towards mass transit,” the Central Bank said.
It suggested partnerships with the private sector to upgrade and expand the railway network to increase capital infusion, including electrification of the railway, and introducing faster and comfortable intercity services.
Modernising signalling and telecommunication systems to ensure a timely service delivery and promoting rail ervices as a cost-effective alternative for goods transportation are essential in improving the quality of railway services, it said.
(Colombo/May 06 2016)