Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi today flagged off Talaimannar rail service completing the reconstruction of the entire Northern Province Railway Line.
Accompanied by President Maithripala Sirisena, Modi also unveiled a plaque inaugurating Talaimannar 1650 Pier Railway station.
Modi flew to Jaffna from Anuradhapura where he paid tribute to at the sacred Mahabodhi tree.
The newly-constructed 63-km railway track between Madhu Road and Talaimannar Pier is the last segment of the 265-km long, prestigious Northern Railway Line Reconstruction Project which is being executed by IRCON International Ltd., a Government of India owned company.
Opening the rail service, which came to a stop in June 1990 after the LTTE blasted the Mannar bridge, which linked Mannar and Thalaimannar island, the Prime Minster said the recommencement gives an impetus to the development in the region.
"Bringing Talaimannar & Madhu Road closer, giving an impetus to development in the region," the PM said in a Twitter message.
The train service on the line will operate from today.
The construction of the 106 kilometer long Medawchchiya - Thalaimannar line was carried out in two phases.
In the first phase the 43-kilometer Medawchchiya to Madhu segment was constructed at a cost of US$ 81.3 million. The first phase was opened for service in May 2013.
In the second phase 63 kilometers of rail line from Madhu to Thalaimannar was reconstructed at a cost of US$ 149 million.
A new pier at Thalaimannar would also be built to pave the way for resumption of ferry service between Thalaimannar and Rameswaram in India.
The Indian Railway Construction Company Limited (IRCON) carried out the construction work of both stages of the project which was financed under a US$ 425 million credit facility from India.
After the end of the hostilities in the North, the Indian government pledged a US$ 800 million line of credit at significantly concessional rates to reconstruct the Northern Railway lines completely destroyed by the Tamil Tiger terrorists. The project included reconstruction of railway lines, installation of signaling and telecom systems and the procurement of rolling stock.
Ministers Rishad Bathiudeen and Lakshman Kiriella also participated in today's flagging off ceremony.