15th April 2011, www.lankabusinessonline.com
Increased freight transport has helped Sri Lanka's state-owned railway department sharply reduce losses in 2010, according to the central bank.
It said the performance of Sri Lanka Railways was mixed in 2010 with a drop in the number of people carried but an increase in goods transport.
Passenger kilometreage of Sri Lanka Railways fell 4.7 percent mainly due to the closure of the coastal railway line between the southern towns of Galle and Matara for rail track upgrading, the bank said in its annual report.
But goods kilometreage increased by 44 percent, mainly due to increased use of railway for oil transportation for the state-owned Ceylon Petroleum Corporation.
This helped SLR reduce operating losses by 33.5 percent to 3,173 million rupees in 2010.
The state railway has been making heavy losses in recent years and survived on subsidies by the treasury.
As part of its plans to regain profitability the railway has said it wants to increase freight transport and in recent months has been transporting oil for the CPC.
The government railway was used to transport oil on a regular basis decades ago and many of the CPC's installations and storage depots are in fact connected by rail.
But the CPC subsequently switched to road transport.
The central bank also said a substantial reduction of SLR's operating expenditure by 1.6 billion rupees in 2010 also helped to curtail the operating loss.
SLR carries only to about 05 percent of passengers and 02 percent of freight on its 1,640 kilometres of rail track.
"The railway network coverage, reliability and the service delivery should be improved in line with the emerging transport demand of the country," the report said.
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