Saturday, 15 February 2003  
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Railways back on track with Treasury funds

Defence, Transport, Highways and Civil Aviation Minister Tilak Marapana has taken steps to obtain funds for the Railway Department immediately from the Treasury to continue rail services properly, the Ministry said yesterday.

The Minister has made arrangements for the funds after discussions with Finance Minister K.N. Choksy, as the Railway Department is facing severe difficulties to continue daily maintenance work due to the lack of sufficient funds, the Ministry said.

The Department faced these difficulties as funds needed for the maintenance work of the Railway Department have not been properly presented under respective heads of expenditure when allocating funds for the Railway Department for 2003. Commuters and railway employees suffered as a result.

The Department expects that with the granting of funds, maintenance work will be re-started soon to provide a better service to commuters.

Meanwhile, Minister Marapana has appointed a Railway Management Council to reorganise the Department's work.

The Institute of Engineers Sri Lanka (IESL) issuing a press release earlier expressed concern over the issue saying the IESL is highly conscious of the fact that by the inadequate allocation of funds, engineers employed in Sri Lanka Railways were carrying out their work far below the expected engineering standards thus even compromising the safety of the travelling public.

The IESL pointed out that all train services on the Main Line are being terminated at Bandarawela because the tracks have shifted out of their proper alignment between Badulla and Hali Ela. This means that any train going over these tracks is in immediate danger of going over a precipice with tragic results, they pointed out.

The IESL also stated that the tracks between Panadura and Fort and between Avissawella and Maradana are in a poor state of maintenance and train speeds have been cut as a result inconveniencing the travelling public.

All this is due to lack of funds, the IESL pointed out.

The IESL urged the government to take immediate action to correct this situation before it results in death, injury and damage to life and property.

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