The Department of Railways says a total of 13 scheduled trains were cancelled thus far today due to the ongoing strike action launched by the Locomotive Operating Engineers’ Union.
However, at least 50 trains including Colombo-bound night mail trains were in operation this morning despite the ongoing trade union action, according to Deputy General Manager of Railways (Traffic) M.J. Indipolage.
The locomotive operating engineers have been on strike since midnight on Monday (Sept. 11) over several key demands including the amendments to the recruitment process and promotions.
Commuters were gravely affected yesterday as more than 100 train journeys were cancelled yesterday as locomotive operating engineers withdrew from duties.
As a result, the trains that were up and running yesterday were crammed with passengers and desperate commuters also resorted to train surfing due to overcrowding. Many others were left stranded at railway stations.
An 18-year-old youth who was travelling on the roof of a long-distance train plying from Kandy to Colombo fell to his death at the Horape railway station.
Infuriated passengers reached their boiling point after the tragic incident, and tense situations were reported at multiple railway stations.
Accordingly, at the request of station masters and locomotive operating engineers on duty amidst the strike, the Railways Department took measures to deploy Sri Lanka Army personnel to provide security to multiple railway stations including Maradana and Colombo Fort stations this morning.
Meanwhile, President Ranil Wickremesinghe has issued a gazette notification yesterday declaring the public transport services for passengers or goods and the provision and maintenance of facilities for transport services by railway lines as essential services with immediate effect under the Essential Public Service Act.
Transport Minister Bandula Gunawardena, addressing a press briefing yesterday, slammed the strike action, and said the government would not negotiate with “railway terrorists”. He said the locomotive operating engineers were responsible for the death of the youth who fatally fell from an overcrowded train.