Most trains lack speedometers | Sunday Observer

Most trains lack speedometers

It has been revealed that of 70 railway engines currently put into operation by the Department of Railways, around 55 engines do not have speedometers. Admitting the fact, the General Secretary of the Railway Engine Drivers Association, Indika Dodangoda said around 90 percent of the railway engines and power sets in use do not have speedometers.

According to him, the engine drivers often detect speed through experience. “In some engines, headlights do not work either,” he said, adding that the Department claims it does not have the equipment to maintain the engines. Therefore, he said engine drivers face great difficulties in adhering to speed limits set out. “Taking action against drivers regarding speed limit, therefore, is unfair,” he said.

When contacted by the Sunday Observer, General Manager, Department of Railways, M. Dilantha Fernando confirmed that only about 14 engines have speedometers.

“Speedometers are operational only in recently imported engines the General Manager said. According to him if the speed limit is set at 30 kmph engine drivers decide on the speed limit based on the track condition and experience.

“Sometimes they travel under the speed limit and at times over the limit based on experience” he claimed. When questioned as to how the Department identifies the speed limit a train had been travelling in during the collision he said it is estimated according to the travel time.

However, he confirmed that tenders have been called to purchase speedometers. “The new equipment will include black boxes, automatic braking system and other modern equipment,” Dilantha said. Though the Department has come under fire recently following several accidents involving wild elephants Dilantha says complaints regarding speeding by railway engine drivers and accidents, as a result, are a rare occurrence. According to him most often train accidents are a result of signal issues rather than speed.