SLTB sputters, Rail improves - Ministry
Non-availability of funds to replace ‘outdated’ buses is the major challenge faced by the Sri Lanka Transport Board (SLTB). The Transport Ministry, in its 2019 Annual Report submitted to Parliament recently, said.
However, it was possible to acquire 334 buses in 2019 and action is being taken to procure 600 buses under the Indian Line of Credit and 80 luxury busses under the 2019 Budget proposals, it said.
SLTB operated an average of 5,079 buses per day in 2019 with fleet of around 5,854 buses, the report said.
However, the Ministry said that a 10 per cent growth of the current count of railway passengers is expected through several projects implemented by the Railway Department. “Installation of the signal system of the Polgahawela-Kurunegala line, setting up of 170 gates under the 200 gates project, completion of 140 coaches under the 200 coaches repair project, were among some of those,” it said. Others included the Matara-Beliatta Rail Development Project which was completed in 2019.. Construction work of the Colombo Suburban Railway Project was also begun with assistance from the Asian Development Bank (ADB), focusing on the next 20 years. Kelani Valley Line, Main Line, Coastal Line and identified sections of the Upcountry lines will be developed to cater to train electrification, the Ministry said. In parallel with these developments, the Railway Efficacy Improvement Project (REIP) is also implemented with ADB aid. The preliminary work of this project has now been completed.
“Kurunegala-Habarana new railway line project has a track length of 84.5 Kms and the land acquisition work of the project is currently nearing completion,” the report added. Consequently the Railway Department’s income grew by six per cent last year (2019) to Rs 7,859.20 million.
The Ministry added that the Maho-Omanthai Railway line project, to develop the track at a cost of US$91.26 million, was started last year. The loan agreement for the project was signed on 18 June 2019, it said.