Sri Lanka Railways is to be improved while upgrading its infrastructure and technical capacity with Asian Development Bank (ADB) assistance.
The ADB’s $160 million loan the first of its kind for Sri Lanka’s railway sector will also be used to modernize the operations and improve the efficiency of the country’s railway operator.
“There is a need to improve public transportation in Sri Lanka to serve a growing population, expected to reach 25 million by 2050,” said ADB Transport Specialist Johan Georget.
“An improved railway system will help promote the development of services and industries across Sri Lanka, as well as put the railway as a viable transportation mode of choice for the people.
This is particularly the case in suburban Colombo, where the impacts of traffic congestion are strongly felt by all road commuters, he added.
He noted that vehicle numbers have doubled between 2008 and 2018, while rail commuters often face overcrowded trains.
Sri Lanka Railways moves 136.7 million passengers and 2 million tons of goods annually.
Sri Lanka Railways owns 250 diesel locomotives and multiple units, but only about three-quarters of them are operational and half of the fleet is more than 30 years old.
The Railway Efficiency Improvement Project will finance the modernization of the country’s railway system in several aspects to improve the operations, maintenance, safety, skills development, and technical capacity of Sri Lanka Railways.
The project will provide a modern multichannel—paper, mobile, and smart card—ticketing system, and will also install a state-of-the-art telecommunications system.
The project will also finance a new operations headquarters and train control center, provide infrastructure and equipment for the maintenance of track and rolling stock, and improve railway safety.
The technical training center of Sri Lanka Railways will be upgraded and new courses will be developed to provide future graduates with knowledge of modern railway technologies.
The total cost of the project is $192 million, with the Government of Sri Lanka providing $32 million. The expected project completion date is the end of 2024.