Colombo: The Sri Lankan government on Saturday resumed railway services after six years between the capital and Kilinochchi, a town devastated by the civil war, officials said. President Mahinda Rajapaksa on Saturday launched the Yal Devi, connecting Colombo to Kilinochchi, reviving an old rail link after a gap of 23 years.
The railway line from Medawachchi in Sri Lanka’s North Central Province to Kankasanthurai in the country’s northern tip was commissioned on September 10, 1905. Gradually, the line grew to become a crucial link — virtually a backbone running across the country — connecting the south and north. However, during the Sri Lankan civil war, the rail network between Colombo and the town of Jaffna, including Kilinochchi, was completely damaged and the train service ceased operations after June 13, 1990, according to local reports.
After the three-decade-long war ended the Sri Lankan government began rebuilding the line, and resumed operations from Vavuniya to Thandikulam on June 7, 2009 and then extended its run to Omanthai on May 29, 2011.
This is one of the two key railway line projects in Sri Lanka — the other, from Medawachchiya to Talaimannar — that India is helping rebuild, with a soft line of credit amounting to Rs.4,000 crore. Indian Railway Construction Company Limited (IRCON) is the key contractor of the project. The remaining stretch of the line up to Kankasanthurai is expected to be completed by the end of 2014.
Next, reconstruction of the railway track would be extended to Jaffna to relink the north and the south by rail network.
Mahinda Rajapakasa has urge Peoples’ participation in the reconstruction of the railway lines from Vavuniya to Kankesanthurai and from Madawadchchi to Talaimannar
While inaugurating yesterday the reconstruction of the railway lines, President Rajapaksa speaking in Tamil said “Many years ago all of us travelled together in the Yarl Devi. The unfortunate events of the recent past brought this to an end. We participate today in the new launch of Travel in Freedom in the Yarl Devi. It is the undeniable reality that in the past the sound of the Yarl Devi was akin to the heartbeat of the nation.”
President Rajapaksa speaking the National languages of the country, Sinhala and Tamil said with firm resolve, “Reconstruction of the 28 railway stations to resume the rail service to the North is not a burden to the growing friendship between our communities. I have decided to rebuild the Jaffna station employing the people of my own village, Hambantota. Engineers, masons, carpenters etc. from Hambantota would go and rebuild the Jaffna station. Likewise people from other districts should contribute and participate to build the other stations.”