The Department of Sri Lanka Railways (SLR) has been running at substantial losses over the past several years. In the last 10 years, between 2010-2020, SLR has accumulated a loss that amounts to LKR 331 Bn, larger than any other State-Owned Enterprise.
To put this into perspective, the revenue generated by SLR through the receipts from passenger traffic (ordinary ticket passengers, season ticket passengers), receipts from goods traffic and other receipts have been insufficient to cover the expenditure on personal emoluments of railway department employees alone. The personal emoluments include the salaries and wages, overtime and holiday payments and other allowances of the railway department employees, which in total takes up an average of just 24% of total expenditure incurred annually by the SLR in the last 8 years (2013-2020).
The recent losses incurred in 2020 appear to be the most notable, amounting to a total of LKR 45 Bn. However, this was mainly owing to the reduced revenue generated from passenger traffic because of COVID-19 related lockdowns and travel restrictions last year.