Colombo, April 8 (newsin.asia) — The Sri Lankan government, on Monday, declared open a railway line constructed between Matara and Beliatta in the south of the island country which will boost passenger traffic into the deep south.
The 26.75 km long Matara-Beliatta railway extension was declared open for the public by Transport and Civil Aviation Minister Arjuna Ranatunga in the presence of Finance Minister Mangala Samaraweera, other parliamentarians and the public.
An air-conditioned train powered by Class S12 diesel engines set off on its maiden journey along the railway track with the ministers, parliamentarians and the media on board.
The railway extension was financed by the Exim Bank of China and the contract was awarded to China National Machinery Import and Export Corporation.
A major portion of the construction was carried out by China Railway Group 5 (CR5) and the Central Engineering Consultancy Bureau (CECB) which acted as the consultant.
Minister Ranatunga, speaking at the launch said that the rail way extension project was a victory for the country as it would immensely benefit the people, especially those living in the Matara and Hambantota areas.
The Minister also thanked the Chinese government for their assistance towards the project.
“I also thank President Maithripala Sirisena and Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe. I am also glad to be able to open this railway line before the Sinhala and Tamil New Year so that it would benefit the people travelling from Colombo to Hambantota for the New Year,” Minister Ranatunga said.
The Minister further assured that the remaining work of expanding the railway line from Beliatta to Hambantota and then to Kataragama, in the Uva province will also commence soon for the benefit of the public.
The Matara-Beliatta railway line is the first to be constructed in Sri Lanka since 1948 and it includes the longest and second longest railway bridges of 1.5 km and 1.04 km, respectively.
The railway line also includes one of the tallest railway bridges, the longest railway tunnel and the most modern railway station buildings in the country.