The daily passenger revenue of the Sri Lankan Railways has dropped from Rs.17 million to Rs. five million, Railways General Manager Dilantha Fernando said.
He said that the Railways department incurred this loss due to issues in passenger transport experienced during the Covid-19 pandemic.
He said that although there was no decrease in passengers in commuter trains, there was a significant drop in passengers travelling in long-distance trains.
“There is a significant decrease of passengers travelling in the Badulla Night Mail, Kandy, Kankesanthurai, Polonnaruwa, Beliatte and Jaffna trains, the lines which earn the most passenger revenue for Sri Lanka Railways,” Fernando said.
He said that only 60 to 70 passengers board certain trains during the week.
A lesser number of passengers travelling on Udarata Menike, Podi Menike, Denuwara Menike, Sri Devi Pulathisi Express and the Badulla Night Mail trains have caused issues for the department, he said.
Although there are limited passengers opting to travel, the Railways Department will continue to offer long-distance travel services, with additional programmes to attract more passengers, Fernando said.
While the crucial drop in foreign travellers has also affected the revenues of the Department, it continues to disinfect all compartments in the interest of maintaining public hygiene.
"We continue to check the temperature of all passengers. There are also facilities for passengers to wash their hands, although some passengers do not adhere to public health guidelines" Fernando said.
Fernando said the 2019 Easter Sunday attacks and trade union action over the past year have also indirectly affected the revenue of the railways' department.
Fernando expects that passengers would choose the railways as their choice of travel in future. Fernando added that he expects the railways to recover from the issues caused by the spread of Covid-19 in the near future. (Rekha Tharangani Fonseka)