In the midst of protests by railway engine drivers who have refused to return to work owing to the alleged substandard power sets imported from India, the Sri Lanka Railway Department today said that it would not do away with the Indian technology insisting that the power sets are of high quality.
“The engine drivers say that the power sets are of low quality but that is not the case. No country can make such technology arbitrarily without accepted standards,” Sri Lanka Railways General Manager B. A. P. Ariyaratne said. There are over 100 trains with power sets that are in use in India, he said.
Ariyaratne said the committee investigating the Alawwa railway accident has been requested to submit their committee report at the soonest time possible to take action. He said he will not comment on the issue until the report reveals what caused the Alawwa accident which killed three people.
Meanwhile, the Locomotive Operating Engineers Union said yesterday that railway drivers feared for their lives and the lives of railway passengers and therefore refused to work if the S11 power sets were used again. Union Spokesman K.A.U Konthasinghe said currently only six of the nine power sets are in use in Chilaw, Rambukkana, Vavuniya intercity and Ruhunu Kumari express train in Aluthgama.
He said although the railway drivers have stopped work, the district mechanical inspectors have undertaken their work and that therefore the trains still continue to function.
The power sets which are reportedly worth Rs.350 million each have a number of shortcomings. He said the drivers cab made with fibre components, the breaks, the deadman vigilance system used to protect the diesel motorcar unit by applying the emergency break of the train were some of the concerns of the railway drivers.
“There a number of deficiencies in the power sets that the authorities need to take note of. These power sets should be removed immediately or otherwise the lives of train workers and passengers may be in grave danger,” Konthasinghe said. (By Olindhi Jayasundere)