The Yal Devi will resume services to Jaffna after a lapse of 30 years in mid-October.
According to Sri Lanka Railways General Manager B. A. P Ariyaratne, 80 percent of the construction work on the railway line featuring a modern signaling system from Pallai to Jaffna has already been completed.
"A new signaling and telecommunication system for the Northern railway network has been installed with all level crossings been interlocked with a new bell and lighting system, to ensure the safety of the people," he said.
He said work on the track and the installation of the signaling system between Pallai and Jaffna are almost complete, with only few finishing touches left.
"The train could travel at a speed of 120 kmph on the newly laid railway track. The People of the North can now travel to the South by train after three decades.
The Pallai-Jaffna railway line has been reconstructed under the concessionary credit line amounting to around US$ 800 million provided by the Indian Government to the Sri Lankan Government to undertake the Northern railway reconstruction project in Sri Lanka. The Indian Railway Construction Company Limited (IRCON) is carrying out the construction work,"Ariyaratne added.
The General Manager said this segment was totally destroyed by LTTE terrorists during the war. "The main challenge we faced in this project is the construction of three main rail bridges including the longest bridge at Navatkuli. There are four crossing stations between Pallai and Jaffna located in Kodikamam, Chavakachcheri, Navatkuli and Jaffna.
The Jaffna Railway Station has also been specially reconstructed with modern facilities while preserving its ancient architecture under financial assistance provided by the Bank of Ceylon. The Bank of Ceylon has made a cash grant of Rs.85 million for this purpose. Kodikamam and Chavakachcheri railway stations are being reconstructed at present while the reconstruction work of the Navatkuli station has already been completed.
"The first section of the re-constructed 63-kilometre railway track from Omanthai to Kilinochchi of the 146-kilometre Northern Railway Line was opened for train travel on September 14 last year. It was further extended up to Pallai since March 4 this year," he said. "The Railway Department under the Ministry of Transport and with financial assistance from the Indian Government under the Indian Line of Credit has embarked on this massive project of restoring the Northern rail tracks to restart the train services connecting the North and South," he added.