India to assist Sri Lanka with upgradation of railway infrastructure

COLOMBO, Jan 9: India and Sri Lanka have together launched multiple works costing USD 91.27 million across the island nation to upgrade the railway network which will enhance the mobility of goods and services and boost economic activity.
Sri Lanka’s Minister of Transport, Highways and Mass Media Dr Bandula Gunawardena and High Commissioner of India to Sri Lanka Santosh Jha ceremonially launched the multiple works on Sunday, a release from the office of the High Commission of India said here.
Minister of Transport Gunawardena thanked India for the support extended to Sri Lanka, especially in the transport sector.
The Indian High Commissioner expressed happiness that as a long-standing development partner of Sri Lanka, India had executed projects for the development and rehabilitation of Sri Lanka’s Northern and Southern Railway line over the past several years in line with the priorities and requirements of the Government of Sri Lanka.
Jha also underscored the importance of the modernisation of railways in enhancing the mobility of goods and services in Sri Lanka thereby boosting economic activity.
“The cost of the entire project is USD 91.27 million of which the second phase of rehabilitation from Maho-Anuradhapura is scheduled to be completed in a period of six months,” the release added.
The works launched on Sunday include track rehabilitation work at Galgamuwa Railway Station and commencing upgradation of the railway line including ancillary works from Maho to Anuradhapura.
It also included the second phase of a Line of Credit project for track rehabilitation from Maho-Omanthai (128 kms) being undertaken by an Indian Public Sector company, IRCON, under an Indian Line of Credit (LOC) of USD 318 million.
Appreciating the work carried out by IRCON in Sri Lanka in the past few years, Gunawardena called for greater cooperation between the two countries in the railways sector.
Sri Lanka’s State Minister of Mass Media Shantha Bandara and senior officials from the Sri Lankan Ministry of Transport were also present at the event.
Railways has been one of the priority sectors for the Government of India’s assistance to Sri Lanka. To date, India has executed projects of over USD 1 billion in the railways sector under five Indian LOCs.
India’s public sector company, IRCON, started its operations in Sri Lanka in March 2009 and has contributed towards the modernisation of Sri Lanka Railways by reconstructing the entire railway line network in the Northern Province (253 Km) and upgradation of Southern line (115 km).
It has also contributed to ensuring safety and reliability through a modern signalling and telecommunication system on a 330-km stretch of Railway line.
India’s support to Sri Lanka under its various LOCs has continued despite the debt standstill announced by the Government of Sri Lanka in April 2022.
In September 2023, the Ministry of Transport and Highways of Sri Lanka and IRCON International signed a new contract for the design, installation, testing, and commissioning of a signalling system for Sri Lanka Railways, from Maho to Anuradhapura for USD 14.90 million under an Indian LOC, the release added. (PTI)