'Sri Lanka Railways commercially viable'
Sri Lanka Railway (SLR) operations could be compared to one of the 16
zones in the Indian context and could be modelled to be profitable, Sri
Lanka Railways Engineer K K Hewavithana said.
K K Hewavithana
Speaking on "Successful turning around of Indian railway" to coincide
with Engineer D B Rampala's 100 birth anniversary at the Institute of
Engineers Sri Lanka yesterday (15) he said Sri Lanka has opened up and
long haul lines could soon be operated. "Tourism and freight trends
would be favourable.
The country has produced some of the best engineers in the world like
Engineer D.B Rampala and it could take up the challenge," he said.
Railway is two to five times energy efficient than the road transport
and electrification of the railway would create greater synergies and
make travel greener and healthier.
Also railways use two to three times less land mass for each
Therefore, the country should select appropriate strategies and
create an era of caring and rewarding as in the case of Indian Railways
that achieved a turnaround success in 1990s. With a political leadership
void of political interference, Goals and targets set and a policy and
procedure framework conducive for achievements be introduced this can be
The country can convert abilities into capabilities, knowledge and
experience into tangible results to make SLR a sustainable public
Hewavithana said Sri Lanka Railways is also in a similar position to
that of the Indian Railways in the 1990s with salient problems such as
lost market share in profitable freight business, lack of flexibility in
pricing and unrealistic pricing methods, high cost of internally sourced
products and services, Investment in projects that do not yield a
return, operating expenses much higher than gross revenue (greater than
100 percent operating ratio, lack of market orientation; and
politicization of the decision making process).
As per 2008 figures the recurrent expenditure was Rs 8.0 billion with
the total revenue under Rs 2.0 billion. This has further deteriorated
over 2009 and 2010.
However, Sri Lanka accomplished tsunami repairs at a fraction of the
estimates given by foreign companies and the time taken was also only a
few months compared to years that were required by them. Unfortunately,
our hopes for a SLR turnaround were only short lived," he said.
But, if the decisions are based on scientific and business
fundamentals, then country can surprise the world through a faster than
expected turnaround of the SLR, he said.