A ceremony was held today at Madhu Road to mark the inauguration of the reconstructed railway track between Medawachchiya and Madhu Road. The ceremony was attended by Hon. Basil Rajapaksa, Minister of Economic Development, H.E. Ashok K. Kantha, High Commissioner of India, Hon. Kumara Welgama, Minister of Transport, Hon. Rishad Bathiudeen, Minister of Industry & Commerce, Hon. Douglas Devananda, Minister of Traditional Industries & Small Enterprise Development, Hon. G. A. Chandrasiri, Governor of the Northern Province, Hon. Rohana Dissanayake, Deputy Minister of Transport, Hon. Duminda Dissanayake, Deputy Minister of Youth Affairs & Skills Development, senior officials from the Ministry of Transport, Presidential Task Force, Sri Lanka Railways, the Northern Province and officials from IRCON International Ltd. As part of the ceremony, the dignitaries undertook a train journey from Anuradhapura to Madhu Road.
The 43-km long reconstructed railway track between Medawachchiya and Madhu Road represents the first phase of the project to reconstruct the Northern Railway Line, covering a total length of 252 km. The 43-km segment has been completed on schedule at a cost of about US $ 81 million. As part of India’s effort to provide for the reconstruction of Northern Sri Lanka, the Government of India had pledged a line of credit of US$ 800 million at significantly concessional rates for various aspects of the Northern Railway project, including reconstruction of railway lines, installation of signalling and telecom systems and the procurement of rolling stock. The work on the various segments is progressing as per schedule, and includes tracking laying work in Medawachchiya – Madhu Road, Madhu Road - Talaimannar and Omanthai – Pallai and Pallai – KKS and installation of signaling and telecommunication systems on all these sectors.
Speaking on the occasion, Hon. Basil Rajapaksa and the other Ministers who participated in the event, praised the assistance provided by the Government of India towards reconstruction in the Northern Province. All the dignitaries commended the timely completion of the project funded by the Government of India. Hon. Basil Rajapaksa noted that “India has been with Sri Lanka at every step in the rehabilitation and reconstruction of Northern Sri Lanka.”
High Commissioner Kantha, in his remarks, said India is committed to working with the Government of Sri Lanka towards the consolidation of peace, prosperity and development in the country. He termed the occasion as “historic” and noted that regular train service between Medawachchiya and Madhu Road has been restored after a gap of about 25 years. He added that the reconstruction of transport-related infrastructure would restore normal life, generate and support livelihood-related activities and also assist in restoring connectivity, not only within the Northern Province, but also with the rest of the country, thus promoting development and reconciliation. The High Commissioner also mentioned that train services to Talaimannar as also to Jaffna and Kankesanthurai were expected to start by end-March 2014, well ahead of schedule, after the completion of track laying work, signaling and other necessary infrastructure, and trial runs. He said that a new pier at Talaimannar would also be built, which would pave the way for resumption of ferry service between Talaimannar and Rameswaram, reinforcing old ties and bonds that have existed historically between the two countries.