CGR short of 400 train drivers


By Don Asoka Wijewardena

The Railway Department is faced with a severe shortage of engine drivers. Transport Minister Kumara Welgama said that though the Department needed 800 engine drivers to operate all trains, there were only 400 drivers at the moment.

The persistent railway delays were not due to workers’ faults but due to technical shortcomings, the Minister said.

The delays could be attributed to technical shortcomings such as improper railway tracks, points, faulty signal systems, lack of facilities at stations and faulty engines, he said.

Minister Welgama was speaking at the 54th Annual General Meeting of the Railway Engine Drivers held at Mount Mary Hall, Borella recently. He said he always made it a point to communicate with train commuters. Whenever he boarded a train, it did not get delayed and ran smoothly, he said. But, when he boarded a train after one week, commuters complained about delays etc.

Before replacing railway tracks, new power sets had to be purchased. Almost all tracks

would have to be replaced with new ones, he said. From Colombo to Avisswella a slow train would take three hours. But by bus it would take only one and a half hours, the Minister noted.

Minister Welgama said that action would be taken to fill all vacancies soon. The engine drivers had been working amidst numerous difficulties over the years. Although they laboured hard they could not be promoted. They had no job satisfaction.

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