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Transport Professionals Endorse Railway Modernization and Electrification at 15th John Diandas Memorial Lecture

The late Mr. John Diandas

Expert in Public Transport

Prof. Amal S. Kumarage – Chairman John Diandas Memorial Trust Fund

The Chartered Institute of Logistics & Transport, Sri Lanka held its 15th John Diandas Memorial Lecture held on Friday 28th July at the Institute of Engineers, Sri Lanka. The lecture was presented by Mr. Rodolfo Martinez who elaborated on the progress of the current study funded by the Asian Development Bank. He outlined the current status of the suburban network, traffic forecasts and went on to present the engineering details of the project. The first phase would be 70 km section from Panadura to Veyangoda will have 23 stations. He also revealed that the station to station commercial speed would be around 40 km per hour, once modernized and electrified.

Railway electrification in Sri Lanka has been mooted over several decades by transport professionals and engineers alike. In recent times, the CoMTRans study funded by JICA also endorsed railway electrification, followed by the validation study by the University of Moratuwa in 2015 which even recommended the possibility of new railway lines to be electrified such as from Kelaniya to Kosgama. The Megapolis Transport Plan also confirmed electrification.

Mr. Martinez presentation was followed by a panel discussion where I was joined by Mr. Palitha Samarasinghe, Project Director, Railway Electrification Project and Dr. Tilak Siyambalapitiya, Member of Institution of Engineers Committee on Railway Electrification. The audience raised many questions on the details of the project and made a number of constructive suggestions for consideration in the next stage of the detailed feasibility study and design. The discussion included the consideration of the freight services and infrastructure required especially for the movements of port related cargo, the consideration of railway station development as integrated transit oriented development with private sector participation, the improvement of access to the stations and the calculation of future demand under a low, medium and high growth scenario so that investment can be justified. Mr. Samarasinghe stated that some of these factors could not be considered under the current scope of study and agreed that they can be included in the feasibility study and design stage. He also revealed that the ADB is to mobilize another study to investigate the modernization of the railway network in suburbs of Kandy. Funding was also sought for station development. There were also inquiries from the audience on the adequacy of the electricity supply and on the potential for using renewable sources for back-up power stations. Dr. Siyambalapitiya responded stating that the railway electrification would require only around 1% of the current supply and that renewable sources could only be used as a supplementary source of power.

It was stated that the electrified railway serving five different corridors in Colombo will have the potential to carry over 1.4 million passengers per day by the year 2035 and that additional tracks would be necessary in some sections as the demand grows. The electrification project also proposes to ensure modernization of the railways including modern carriages, electronic ticketing, improved signaling and communications etc. Railway crossings would also be made safer. The seamless rail, improved track and ballasting will ensure a much more comfortable ride.  Railway electrification is seen as the long term solution to road congestion with the modernized railway being able to attract private vehicle users to a higher quality service. This project scheduled to enter the construction phase in 2018 would be a major boost to modernizing Sri Lanka’s urban transport and a primary means of positioning public transport to manage road congestion.

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Chartered Institute of Logistics and Transport (CILT) held their International Convention in Macao from 11th to 14th June at Sheraton Grand hotel Cotai Central. One of the world’s most famous free ports, Macao is a fascinating blend of industries and cultures, a jewel on the south coast of China, across the Pearl River Delta from Hong Kong. This year’s theme of the Convention was “Smart Journey – Belt and Road”. The Convention focused on two of the most important developments currently making an impact on the Logistics & Transport industry; the rise of Smart Technology and the ambitious One Belt One Road (OBOR) initiative. CILT conducts its annual Convention in a member country in rotation every year. Sri Lanka hosted the Convention in June 2013 after it became a territory.

There was a very interesting mix of items in the four day program including Guest International Speakers, Workshops and Interactive Breakout Sessions.  Women in Logistics and Transport (WiLAT) Forum and Young Professionals’ Forum (YPF) conventions started off in parallel sessions on the 11th ahead of the CILT International Convention. This year’s Convention was attended by over 250 foreign delegates from 29 of its member countries. The delegates had ample opportunities to interact with International participants representing corporates, academia and government sector and the military and get actively involved in shaping the future of CILT and its industry.

This year’s 11 member CILT SL delegation  was the highest Sri Lanka ever attended a Convention including WiLAT and YPF members and was represented by Capt. Lasitha Cumaratunga (Chairman CILT SL), Romesh David, (International  Vice President) Gayani de Alwis (Vice Chairperson CILT SL), Niral Kadawatharatchi (Immediate Past Chairman CILT SL), Niroza Gazzali (Vice Chairperson WiLAT SL), Amra Zareer (Secretary WiLAT SL), Gayathri Karunanayake (Treasurer WiLAT SL), Biman Hettiarachchi (Chairman YPF SL), Rishantha Mendis (Member), Manjari Nigamuni (WiLAT ExCo Co-opted Member), Shakkya Perera (WiLAT ExCo Co-opted Member). CILT also awarded a travel scholarship to a young undergraduate mentee from WiLAT to attend the Convention.

There were many speakers of International repute addressing at the Convention. Prof. De-Rong Wang, Executive Vice-Chairman, CCTA, Prof. Taewoo Paul Lee, RMIT University, Melbourne, Australia, Morris Cheung, President, MTR Academy, Hong Kong, Prof. Kai Hoberg, Kühne Logistics University and Karmjit Singh, Chairman of CILT Singapore were some of the speakers at this year’s Global Convention.  Vice Chairperson CILT Sri Lanka Gayani De Alwis was also an invited speaker and she spoke about Sri Lanka’s perspective on Belt and Road initiative.  De Alwis mentioned that Sri Lanka is right at the center of the Global east west maritime route with 50% of Global containerized traffic moving pass Hambantota. Being strategically located at the tip of South Asia, Sri Lanka was in the past a natural port of call for silk route navigators. She mentioned that the belt and road initiative will enable Sri Lanka to get connected to International value chains and provide the much needed connectivity required for rapid economic growth in the country.

Outgoing International Past President of CILT Paul Brooks was awarded the Pegasus medal for his services and CILT Kazakhstan was awarded territorial status at the Convention. This year CILT convention also had a new segment where an opportunity was given to CILT chapters to show case their best practices at an Idea Exchange. Sri Lanka team showcased WiLAT SL’s globally renowned “Ignite” mentoring program and this initiative won the best entry of the poster competition. Sri Lankan team also took part in the “We Got Talent” organized by WiLAT Hong Kong for the participants to showcase their talents. Sri Lankan team performed a traditional dance act under the theme “Pooja – a Fusion of Blue Rays” which depicted a blend of cultural dance and music and won the award for the “Best Originality & Creativity”.

The delegates also had the opportunity to take part in a technical visit to Hong Kong which included a visit to Hong Kong Airlines, Kwai Chung Modern Terminals, MTC OCC at Tsing Yi and a Tram Ride.

The CILT International Convention was an excellent opportunity for networking, to develop new International relationships and share experiences and best practices with colleagues across the CILT Global family. The next International Convention will be held in Wrocław, Poland in May 2017.

The Chartered Institute of Logistics and Transport (CILT) is a leading Global professional body associated with the Logistics and Transport industry.  Established in UK in 1919 and having received the Royal Charter in 1926, the Institute has an exciting history but is always adapting to stay consistent with current Logistics and Transport issues. The Institute’s Patron is Princess Royal. The Institute holds unparalleled International recognition and works towards achieving its objectives of promoting and encouraging the art and science of Logistics and Transport through its membership and its educational qualifications. With a Global membership of over 33,000 from 33 countries across the Globe, CILT provides a professional identity to those in the ever expanding Logistics and Transport sector. It is a strong, active and a unified professional association that is able to speak with authority on strategic issues affecting businesses and people in the industry and support their careers. CILT Sri Lanka was established in 1984 and incorporated by the parliamentary act no. 08 of 2000. In 2012, The Council of Trustees of the CILT upgraded the status of CILT Sri Lanka from a Branch to a Territory. In doing so the Council of Trustees recognized the high standards of performance, governance and membership development evidenced in CILT Sri Lanka over the past several years. Presently, CILT SL has over 1000 members who are highly qualified in the Transport and Logistics fields. For more details on CILT, visit their web page –

CILT Sri Lanka Delegation for the CILT Convention in Macao

Vice Chairperson CILT SL Gayani de Alwis speaking at the Convention on “Sri Lanka’s perspective one belt and one road initiative”

WiLAT members posing with the winning poster at the CILT Idea Exchange

CILT Team with the WiLAT dance performers who won the “best originality & creativity” award

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WiLAT Sri Lanka partners with Maersk Lanka “Back to work (B2W)” Project– Initiative towards Women Empowerment

WiLAT SL Chairperson Dhashma Karunaratne presenting the WiLAT Annual Report to Maersk Sri Lanka Country Head, Zeeshan Mukhi, along with Secretary Amra Zareer (Left) Vice Chairperson Membership Services, Niroza Gazzali (right)

Maersk Line has initiated “Back2Work (B2W)” a career transition programme for women who have taken a career break of more than 6 months and wish to re-enter the professional work space.

After a successful round of discussions with Country Head, Maersk Sri Lanka Zeeshan Mukhi and Regional HR Team of Maersk; WiLAT SL and Maersk Sri Lanka agreed to partner on this great initiative to empower women.

Speaking of this partnership, WiLAT Sri Lanka Chairperson, Dhashma Karunaratne commended the B2W program of Maersk Group, which is designed with value drivers such as flexi-hours, refresher courses, mentoring, fair pay that enables women to overcome the hurdles that prevent them from re-entering the corporate world.

WiLAT SL is indeed encouraged by such initiatives that are developed with the underlying core belief that Gender diverse organisations surge in creativity, innovation and growth; resulting in Sustainable Growth. 

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CILT courtesy call on new Port Chairman

Senior officials of the Chartered Institute of Logistics and Transport (CILT) Sri Lanka last week paid a courtesy call on the new Sri Lanka Ports Authority Chairman Dr. Parakrama Dissanayake. CILT said it was elated to see an FCILT and a Past Chairman of CILT at the helm of SLPA.

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Eminent Economist delivers reality check at CILT Logistic Leaders Evening

The Chartered Institute of Logistics & Transportation (CILT) Sri Lanka Logistics Leaders Evening was held on the 24th of May with a lecture titled “Sri Lanka’s competitiveness – A Tiger or a Small Miracle” by former Central Bank Deputy Governor Mr. W. A. Wijewardene at the Auditorium of the National Chamber of Commerce Sri Lanka to a well-attended audience.

Mr. Wijewardene started off by explaining why measuring competitiveness was important for Sri Lanka and advocated several imperatives for the country to move out of the current “middle income trap” towards a high income nation.

Despite government projections of 7% minimum growth it is only likely that Sri Lanka will achieve somewhere between 5 – 5.5% growth rate till 2020 with the current state of affairs. Some of the key growth imperatives were:

  1. Economic reforms on a wide scale
  2. Make the private sector move the country forward
  3. Introduce measures to improve productivity & efficiency of using both human and physical capital
  4. Create a bigger market for Sri Lankan products

He highlighted the example of Singapore’s forward-thinking mindset that allowed a small state to become a global economic powerhouse. A deeper evaluation of the current situation revealed that the biggest reason why Sri Lanka is lagging behind is a need to change our cultural mindset to be more modern and hardworking, to rethink how education is delivered, and to leapfrog four cycles of the industrial revolution in order to become relevant.

Mr. Wijewardene’s suggested way forward plan included:

  1. Take a stock of the state of human capital (un)development and the quality of the facilitating logistical services.
  2. Get into an economic policy capsule with participation from politicians, bureaucrats, academia, and civil society organizations, map out strategy for developing the talent pool of the country needed by 2025, 2035 and 2045.
  3. Sign off the strategy with time bound KPIs to monitor progress, rectify deviations and plan out for emerging developments.

His final conclusion was that, as it is, it is neither Tiger nor Small Miracle for Sri Lanka unless a massive reform program is implemented with consistency, consensus, dedication and commitment! Mr. Wijewardene’s full presentation is available with the CILT Secretariat and anyone interested may contact them below

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CILT hails the appointment of Dr. Parakrama Dissanayake (FCILT) as new SLPA Chairman

The Chartered Institute of Logistics & Transport (CILT) Sri Lanka welcomes the appointment of one of its illustrious Fellows as the new Chairman of the Sri Lanka Ports Authority (SLPA). Dr. Parakrama Dissanayake has been associated with CILT for over three decades and was the Chairman of the Sri Lankan branch from 1998 to 2000, one of his many accolades in the Shipping and Logistics sector.

The Institute is heavily encouraged by Dr. Dissanayake’s sentiments that the Hon. Minister Mahinda Samarasinghe has “a tremendous vision for the maritime sector of Sri Lanka; to bring back the old glory to the port sector”. The country will undoubtedly require well trained & qualified professionals to achieve this vision and CILT has been in the forefront of delivering this.  

CILT Sri Lanka extends its heartiest congratulations to Dr. Dissanayake and is confident that he will provide the required leadership to make Sri Lanka the Logistic hub of the region. CILT will continue to work closely with SLPA with the full support and backing of a membership of professionals in supply chain, logistics & transport from over 33 countries covering shipping, aviation, road and rail transport, and logistics.

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