The extension of the new railway line from Matara to Kataragama, a flagship project in the government’s development itinerary, will facilitate to provide efficient and economic transport services by connecting cities from Colombo to Kataragama, a Finance and Planning Ministry release said.
The demand for transport between the Southern Province and other provinces will increase due to developments in the Southern region and operations of the Hambantota Port and Mattala Airport.
The project is expected to meet the demand for transport while providing an environmentally friendly mode of transport, the release said.
The new railway line will also benefit commuters and the transportation of goods from remote areas of the Southern Province, the release said.
The project is planned to be implemented in three phases. Under Phase I, construction of railway line from Matara to Beliatta will be carried out. Phase II and Phase III include the construction of railway lines from Beliatta to Hambantota and Hambantota to Kataragama.
The Chinese government agreed to provide a loan of US $ 278.2 million through Export– Import (Exim) Bank of China on concessional terms to finance Phase I of the Matara- Kataragama Railway Extension Project on the Sri Lankan government’s request. Out of the total loan, US$ 200 million will be provided under Preferential Buyer’s Credit facility and the balance US$ 78.2 million will be provided under the Chinese government concessional loan facility.
These loan facilities will be provided at an annual interest rate of two percent with a repayment period of 20 years including a five year grace period.
Phase I of the project consists of construction of 26.75km long single line broad guage rail track from Matara to Beliatta including construction of structures such as culverts, bridges over rivers, viaducts required over the Nilwala river flood plain, level crossings, underpass boxes, road diversion, four railway stations and functional requirements including construction of railway quarters for staff, earth embankments and ground treatment etc.
The Exim Bank of China signed the loan agreement with the Sri Lankan government on February 19, 2013, indicating its agreement to provide US$ 200 million under Preferential Buyer’s Credit facility to finance the Matara – Beliatta Section of the project.