NEW DELHI: Travel between Sri Lankan capital Colombo and Northern town of Jaffna has just become more comfortable with around 130 km railway track to be upgraded from Maho to Omanthai under Indian Concessional Financing.The upgradation of this track happening for the first time in hundred years.
A contract agreement for around $ 91.26 million for upgrading of railway track from Maho to Omanthai under Indian concessional financing was signed between IRCON International Limited and Government of Sri Lanka in Colombo on 18 July.
The contract agreement was signed by Sunil Kumar Choudhury, Chairman & Managing Director, IRCON International Limited and L.P.Jayampathy, Secretary, Ministry of Transport and Civil Aviation of Sri Lanka, in the presence of Hon. Arjuna Ranatunga, Minister of Transport and Civil Aviation of Sri Lanka.
M.J. D. Fernando, General Manager, Sri Lanka Railways; S. L. Gupta, ED, IRCON, International Limited; and Ms. Suja K. Menon, Head of Economic & Commercial Wing, High Commission of India were also present.
The total length of the track that will be upgraded under Indian concessional financing between Maho to Omanthai would be around 130 km. This includes 12 crossing stations, 7 halt stations and 78 level crossings. This is the first time the track is being upgraded in 100 years. This project would double the speed potential of railway track from the current around 60 km to 120 km per hour, as well as reduce the maintenance costs. It will also improve the travel comfort of passengers, and further contribute to the modernization Sri Lanka Railways.
India has so far committed Lines of Credit worth around $ 1.3 billion for development of railway sector in Sri Lanka. The restoration of arterial railway lines, connecting the North and the South after decades of conflict, was undertaken under Indian concessional financing. The tsunami-affected Southern Railway line was also upgraded under Indian Line of Credit. India has so far upgraded around 300 km of railway track and provided modern signaling & telecommunication system for around 330 km in Sri Lanka.
In June 2017, India signed a fresh Line of Credit Agreement for $ 318 million for the development of railway sector in Sri Lanka. Under this Line of Credit, other projects that are underway include procurement of 160 passenger coaches; upgradation of signal & telecommunication system from Maho to Anuradhapura; and setting up of a Railway Workshop in Rathmalana etc. Procurements of rolling stock from India are also underway including 6 DMUs, 10 locomotives, 20 container carrier wagons, 30 fuel tank wagons, 160 passenger coaches, and 500 buses. India has also contributed substantially to capacity building of Sri Lankan railway personnel.
This project is in continuation of India’s efforts to partner with Sri Lanka in people-oriented connectivity projects in the island nation. The Chinese connectivity projects on the other hand have pushed Lanka into a debt trap.
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