Shortage Of Railway Engines
By Nirmala Kannangara
A shortage of railway engines in the country has resulted in daily train delays and cancellations, the All Ceylon Railway Employees General Union (ACREGU) alleged. Convener of the ACREGU C. Vithanage said that all ten M9 engines that were imported from France in the year 2000 are now out of service. “All the engines that were imported from France were not suitable for Sri Lankan conditions, and even though this was brought to the notice of the then Transport Minister by the then Technical Evaluation Committee the Government still went ahead and purchased the engines,” he said.
According to Vithanage, one engine cost the Railway Department Rs 180 million and added that a sum of Rs1,800 million was spent in vain by the politicians.
“It is the tax payers’ money that was spent unnecessarily. The good quality engines can be used for more than 50 years but these French engines could not be used for even ten years continuously. The companies from which this purchase was made do not exist now,” he said.
While accusing the Government of putting the blame on the Railway Department for incurring losses, Vithanage said that if not for political interference, the Railway Department would have gained profits over the years. “All ministers in charge of the Railway Department have made this institution a loss-making one. We have engines that were imported in 1950 which still run perfectly.
Other than regular servicing these engines have not given any major trouble to the Department. Even the locomotives that were imported from India in 2012 are now in a dilapidated condition,” he added.