ADB approves $160m Loan to support Sri Lanka Railway modernisation

COLOMBO: The Asian Development Bank (ADB) has agreed to provide a $160m loan to support a railway modernisation and efficiency improvement programme in Sri Lanka.

The loan amount will be allocated to the Railway Efficiency Improvement Project, which includes various schemes to improve operations, safety and technical capacity of Sri Lanka’s railway system.

It includes replacing the antiquated telecommunications system to enable two-way communications with train drivers and reduce train delays.

The project also includes financing a new operations headquarters and train control centre, providing necessary equipment for rolling stock and rail track maintenance, and steps to improve operational safety.

Implementing a modern multi-channel ticketing system is also part of the modernisation programme.

Furthermore, Sri Lanka is expected to upgrade its technical training centre and carry out detailed feasibility studies for future railway projects.

Overall, the Railway Efficiency Improvement Project will cost $192m, with the Government of Sri Lanka contributing $32m.

ADB transport specialist Johan Georget said: “There is a need to improve public transportation in Sri Lanka to serve a growing population, expected to reach 25 million by 2050.

“An improved railway system will help promote the development of services and industries across Sri Lanka, as well as put the railway as a viable transportation mode of choice for the people.”

Every year, Sri Lanka Railways transports around 2 million tonnes of goods and 136.7 million passengers.

Last month, IRCON International signed an agreement to upgrade a 130km-long railway line in Sri Lanka. The line stretches from Maho town in the Northwestern Province to Omanthai in the Northern Province.

The Sri Lanka Railway Department (more commonly known as Sri Lanka Railways (SLR)) is Sri Lanka’s railway owner and primary operator. As part of the Sri Lankan government, it is overseen by the Ministry of Transport. Founded in 1858 as the Ceylon Government Railway, it operates the nation’s rail and links the capital, Colombo, with other population centres and tourist destinations. The Sri Lankan rail network is 1,508 km (937 mi) of 5 ft 6 in (1,676 mm) broad gauge. Some of its routes are scenic, with the Main Line passing (or crossing) waterfalls, mountains, tea estates, pine forests, bridges and peak stations.

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