The train service on the upgraded coastal railway track between Galle-Matara was inaugurated yesterday (16) with the participation of the Minister of Transport Kumar Welgama, the High Commissioner of India Mr. Ashok K. Kantha, Deputy Minister of Transport Rohana Dissanayake, Secretary to the Ministry of Transport Dhammika Perera and other senior officials.
The Galle-Matara railway line upgrading project, covering a distance of 42 kilometers, has been completed smoothly on schedule. The work on phase-II of the project from Galle to Kalutara has already commenced and would be completed early next year.
The Galle-Matara project represents phase-I of the overall coastal rail project between Colombo and Matara and is part of the Government of India’s assistance towards reconstruction in the tsunami-affected areas of Sri Lanka under a credit line of US $ 167.40 million.
Speaking on the occasion, High Commissioner Kantha said that India was committed to working with the Government of Sri Lanka towards the consolidation of peace, prosperity and development in Sri Lanka and for the further enrichment of bilateral ties. He said that both countries should continue to work together in the spirit of partnership, as the destinies of the two countries are interlinked.
The Galle-Matara track has been upgraded by IRCON to world standards and it will be possible to run trains at speeds up to 100 kmph, substantially cutting down the travel time. IRCON has leveraged local talent for this project and almost 80% of the manpower comprises the local work force. IRCON is also engaged in several other rail projects as part of the Government of India’s rehabilitation and reconstruction partnership in the north of the island. These projects include rebuilding tracks on Omanthai-Pallai, Medawachchiya-Madhu and Madhu-Talaimannar sectors which will enable transport connectivity in these areas. The Government of India has offered a credit line of US $800 million for reconstruction of the railway system in the north, the High Commission of India states.