Automated ticketing machines and gates are to be installed at railway stations in Sri Lanka with a loan of USD 20 Million from Asian Development Bank (ADB). 50 Railway station have been chosen under the project.
Computer apps, vending machines and over the counter ticketing are among the methods to buy tickets in developed countries.
Still, majority of railway tickets are issued in Sri Lanka using very old methods. These ticketing counters do not at least bear a standard height for easy access of the passengers. Majority of instances the commuters have to bend down in order to see through the hole to communicate with the issuer.
It is true that there are delays at these counters. Major problem that the railway commuters face is not the inconvenience at the ticketing counter. There are many more important issues to be addressed.
Trains are very old and shabby. They pollute the environment. They do not operate according to the timetable. Congestion is at a peak. Infrastructure in railway stations is pathetic and facilities are minimal. Doors and windows of some railway compartments cannot be closed. Fans do not work. Passengers are unprotected.
Railway platforms are very low in some stations. In some railway stations, the platforms are too short. It is difficult to get down from the train. No access is available for disabled. It is a dream to get into the train on a wheelchair.
Train stations are very old and dirty. Facilities are minimal. No toilet facilities are available for passenger in most instances. Available toilets are not cleaned regularly. Staff is indecent. Some do not attend to the job properly.
Railway tracks are unprotected. Many crossings are unguarded. General public of certain areas throw stones at the train. Such stone throw killed a principal from Anuradhapura, but there is no action on stone throwers.
Neither policymakers nor the senior officials of the railway seem to be aware of trains. That is why they initiate such unproductive and useless projects.
There is a reason for this. After the preliminary round of tender procedure, four Chinese companies have been chosen for bidding. This project might have been launched for the benefit of the Chinese companies and the politicians and the officials, who might be soliciting commissions from these companies.