Reading: Successes and Failures of Sri Lanka Railways in International Technology Transfer


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Successes and Failures of Sri Lanka Railways in International Technology Transfer


D. G. Hemachandra ,

Sri Lanka German Railway Technical Training Centre, LK
About D. G.


C. Eng., MIE (SL), MBA (Moratuwa)

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A. K. W. Jayawardane

University of Moratuwa, LK
About A. K. W.

Professor of Civil Engineering and Dean, Faculty of Engineering

BSc Eng (Moratuwa), MSc (Loughborough), PhD (Loughborough), C.Eng., FIE (SL)

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This paper analyzes successes and failures of two foreign funded international technology transfer (ITT) projects carried out for Sri Lanka Railways (SLR) using an integrated conceptual model which is a combination of the concepts of technology capability enhancement, polytrophic components of technology, Stage-Gate model and Seven factor model.


The results show that the project implemented in 1959 was successful due to the selection of appropriate technology, suitable technology supplier and high level of commitment of the transferee.


However the recent ITT project implemented in 1997 was a failure since the transferee was unable to enhance the technological capabilities to the required levels. Poor acquisition process, lack of knowledge & capabilities in modern technologies and low level of commitment of the transferee were the major contributory factors for the failure in ITT.


Due consideration in selecting the technologies and getting all components transferred at appropriate levels was found to be vital for effective technology transfer, since the "State of the art technology of the transferor need not always be the most appropriate technology for the transferee".


Present regulations and the guidelines enforced for the procurement of goods and services do not focus on the technological aspects to guide successful technology transfer. Therefore the public sector needs a more "comprehensive check list" to evaluate and select appropriate technology suppliers and a "Steering Committee" to effectively implement international technology transfer projects in addition to the usual Technical Evaluation Committees and the Tender Boards.

How to Cite: Hemachandra, D.G. and Jayawardane, A.K.W., 2007. Successes and Failures of Sri Lanka Railways in International Technology Transfer. Engineer: Journal of the Institution of Engineers, Sri Lanka, 40(2), pp.19–28. DOI:
Published on 23 Apr 2007.
Peer Reviewed


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