Newly imported Indian locomotives are not suitable for Sri Lankan tracks says Railway Trade Unions

Newly imported Indian locomotives are not suitable for Sri Lankan tracks says Railway Trade Unions

Newly imported Indian locomotives are not suitable for Sri Lankan tracks says Railway Trade Unions

Written by Staff Writer

16 Jan, 2020 | 9:56 pm

COLOMBO (News 1st) – Railway trade unions allege that locomotives brought to the country from India cannot be operated along Sri Lanka railway tracks.

Ten M 11 engines have been purchased under an Indian loan scheme and 8 of them have been brought to the country.

Ten train engines and 6 power sets were purchased by the previous government for a sum of Rs 1000mn and paid for through funds obtained from an Indian loan.

A team including Sri Lankan railway engineers were sent to India to inspect the engines and were given special training. Eight train engines have been brought down to the country since then.

After the initial inspections, one of the train engines that operated along the local railway line had derailed close to the Dematagoda station. The railway track and the road were severely damaged.

Indika Dodamgoda, Secretary of the Railway Engine Drivers Association:

“When we consider the length of the train engine, it is longer than any train engine that we have. We cannot operate these trains along our railway tracks.

The spaces between the wheels of the train engines are greater than the standard. As a result, this causes damages to the railway track, according to the relevant officials.

They requested for these train engines not to be operated along the Northern railway track. These engines cannot be operated after being connected to compartments with an air compressor brake system because these engines are too heavy and too long.

All of our turning platforms have been constructed to support an 80-tonne engine.”

S.P. Vithanage, co-convenor of the Railway Trade Union’s Alliance stated that Sri Lankan railway tracks have bends and turns and these long engines would have difficulty in manoeuvring.

He further added that these engines are valued at around Rs 750mn and they are only suitable to travel for about 800-1000km at a stretch which Sri Lankan tracks are not constructed for.

He went on to note that the government could have brought down proper locomotives for about Rs 300mn from Europe.

General Manager of Railways Dilantha Fernando said that engines with a similar weight had been imported and put into operation before.

He said that some of these engines haven’t been used as yet due to a delay in importing air compressor carriages.

However, the general manager added that a committee has been appointed to investigate the incident.

Mahinda Amaraweera, Minister of Transport Service Management and Minister of Power & Energy stated that they had a broad discussion at the head office of the Railways Department regarding the issue and proper steps will be taken to resolve the issue.

Minister added that officials hold two opinions regarding the issue and they intend to analyse and inspect the incident and punish those who are culpable.

Meanwhile, 4 of the 8 engines imported have been put into operation while 3 engines have been deployed along safe railway tracks.

A purchase involving such a large sum of money is carried out following the recommendation of a technical assessment committee and also subject to the approval of the cabinet.

Who are the members of the Technical Evaluation Committee that reviewed the purchase of these train engines?


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