(COLOMBO, LANKAPUVATH) –The government has allocated Rs. 1,000 million for the refurbishment of 25 railway stations in the 2018 Budget, said Transport and Civil Aviation Minister Nimal Siripala de Silva.
Speaking at a ceremony held in Kurunegala on Monday, 20, to open a 75 m new fifth platform at the Kurunegala Railway Station, the minister explained that the current government has given prominence to improving public transport.
“Special focus has been given to railways. Of the total passenger numbers in the country, only 42 percent uses the railway. Railways are being run at a loss today, but it is a public service, and as such, we will take it forward for the public’s benefit,” he said.
This railway station had only four platforms, but with the fifth addition, it will be easier for the passengers. The railway department has spent Rs. 75 million on this. But simply upgrading railway buildings alone will not be sufficient; passengers who come here should be given good service, added the minister.
Since taking over, the minister pointed out that the Railways had hired 250 station masters and it was done without any political influence. He insisted that he had not provided his supporters jobs in the railway.
“The main problem we face within the Department is the trade union mafia. Due to the power struggles among trade unions, there is, to a certain extent, a breakdown in the railway service. Our trade unions resort to strikes even for the slightest problem. If for one year, we abandon such trade union action and come together to work for the benefit of the railway, we will definitely be able to improve it,” said de Silva.