Sri Lanka Railway had been using an overhead copper wire based telecommunication system from its inception till 1985. Each railway Line had its own telephone circuit (control circuit) connecting all railway station to one of the train control centers at Colombo, Nawalapitiya or Anuradhapura. In this system, the Dialing was done with very special key and selector arrangement.


In 1985, this conventional system was replaced by an Islandwide VHF/UHF Radio Telecommunication System (known as BBC System). The system was procured from M/s. Brown Boveri Co. Ltd of Switzerland through financing of Government of Sri Lanka and Switzerland Government. The installation work was completed in 1986 and the system functioned satisfactory till about 2012. However, SLR faced difficulties in finding spare parts and maintaining the system.


Then, a system purchased from one of the Sri Lanka Telecom Service provider was installed and used. This system had its own problems and could not fulfil SLR requirements satisfactory.


Safety bearing of Railway Telecommunication System:


Every railway in the world has its own telecommunication system connecting,

  • Railway Stations to Train Control Centers
  • Locomotives of trains to Train Control Centers
  • Maintenance staff to Train Control Centers etc.


The Purposes are,

  • Achieving safety of Train Operation (Avoid collisions, and disturbances)
  • Enhance Railway Operation (train controlling) related decision making
  • Maintain coordination between train operation related staff
  • Support to take train operation related management decisions.

Studies carried out and overall revenue gain for Sri Lanka Railway

During the pre-feasibility study period (in 2017), two consultants (01-National and 01-International) were appointed to collect user requirement, select suitable technology and prepare Specifications and Bid documents. The consultants had meetings (14 meetings) with all the users groups  of the system, mapped user requirements with system features and purposed a system with latest technology which can be procured as a system/service from telecommunication service providers in Sri Lanka.

The final decision was taken at a meeting held on 25.01.2018, at the Ministry of Transport, participated by relevant Heads of Departments of SLR. Sri Lanka Railway has already commenced obtaining telecommunication services from service providers.

The Final Report of the consultants can be downloaded from this website.

If it is assumed that 10% of the overall train delays will be reduced by having the system, the annual cost saving will be Rs. 49.2 Million. In addition, avoidance of one accident per year and annual saving from payments to SLT infrastructure (for the BBC system) are considered the system will bring an overall annual saving of Rs. 153.0 Million.

Design and Bid Documents preparation

The Technical Evaluation Committee (TEC) revised the design, specification and Bid document prepared by the consultants, and collected further information to decide about, number of users and locations, priority call policy, equipment type to meet user requirements etc.

ADB provided a training on procurement method to TEC.

Cabinet Approval for commencing procurement and the overall procurement process

Cabinet Approval was obtained in May 2018 for procuring and implanting the project under ADB financing and in addition, the approval was obtained for the procurement method. (Two stage method). Procurement process commenced in August 2018. It needs to be noted that Asian Development Bank reviewed and approved the procurement at six stages over the entire procurement process.

Then, after the procurement appeal stage and procurement committee approval and cabinet approval was granted.

System Features

The Telecommunication System will cover islandwide railway network and will enhance the efficiency and effectiveness of SLR operations. The system will provide,

  • Voice and Data Communication to approximately 3500 railway staff who attend to railway operations and maintenance.
  • Provide convenient operation consoles to all train controller positions in Colombo. Nawalapitiya and Anuradhapura Control Centers
  • Priorities for calls will be set as per the priority policy that has already been prepared through discussions with railway users and railway management.
  • All three control centers will be interconnected effectively.
  • Provides group calling and individual calling.
  • Locomotives will be provided with a communication console having convenience in operation.
  • The Text Massaging (Such as Telegraph massages in the old system) facility will be available.
  • Vital communications will be recorded to ensure safety and reliability.
  • The train crew, maintenance centers and maintenance officers in the field will all be connected.
  • Convenient Communication will be provided for shunting and security purposes.
  • All level crossings also will be connected to relevant stations.
  • The railway stations too will be provided with a convenient communication consoles.
  • The system will be the data transmission backbone for other applications such as accounting, ticketing, maintenance etc.

Project Period

The project period will be one year with eight year maintenance period.

Staff Training

The package comes with a comprehensive training of all groups of relevant railway offices.

Eight year Maintenance and Successful Taking over

The island wide installations, training, commissioning and handing over will be completed within 12 months. The 08-year comprehensive maintenance will follow, immediately after the installation period.

The system monitoring centers will be provided at, control centers at Maradana, Nawalapitiya and Anuradhapura. This will enable SLR to monitor performance of the system and carry out maintenance with the service provider.

During the maintenance period, the SLR staff with relevant expertise will be provided for gaining necessary experience to enable successfully takeover the system after the maintenance period.