A ceremony was organised on October 13, 2014 to mark the inauguration of the Pallai-Jaffna reconstructed railway track and signal system. The ceremony was graced by H.E. Mahinda Rajapaksa, President of Sri Lanka, Hon’ble Kumara Welgama, Minister of Transport, Hon’ble Douglas Devananda, Minister of Traditional Industries and Small Enterprises Development, H.E. Y. K. Sinha, High Commissioner of India, Hon’ble Rohana Kumara Dissanayake, Deputy Minister of Transport, Hon’ble Maj. Gen. (Retd.) G.A. Chandrasiri, Governor of Northern Province, Hon’ble Murugesu Chandrakumar, MP, Hon’ble Selvesthiri Alantin, senior officials from the Ministry of Transport, Sri Lanka Railways, the Northern Province and officials from IRCON International Ltd.
2. As part of the ceremony, the dignitaries undertook a train journey from Pallai to Jaffna on the reconstructed track. The 38 km long Pallai-Jaffna railway line has been reconstructed as part of reconstruction of the Northern Railway line in Sri Lanka under a concessional credit line amounting to about US$ 800 million provided by the Government of India to the Government of Sri Lanka. This commitment was recorded in the India-Sri Lanka Joint Deceleration issued on June 9, 2010 in New Delhi during the visit of H.E. the President of Sri Lanka. The segments already completed under this project include the Medawachchiya-Madhu Road segment, inaugurated on May 14, 2013; the Omanthai- Kilinochchi segment, inaugurated by H.E. the President of Sri Lanka on September 14, 2013; and the Kilinochchi-Pallai segment inaugurated by the Hon’ble Minister of Transport on March 4, 2014.
3. This project is being implemented by IRCON International Limited, a Public Sector Enterprise under the Government of India. IRCON is working towards timely completion of the Northern Railway line and work is going on simultaneously on the Madhu Road-Talaimannar section and Jaffna-Kankesanthurai section, together with signaling and communications work.
4. The reconstruction of the railway line up to Jaffna holds special significance as with the inauguration of this segment of the railway track, the Yal Devi Express which used to ply on this route, would once again start its services to Jaffna, thus reconnecting Jaffna to Colombo by rail. The operationalisation of the Northern line would restore connectivity not only within the Northern Province, but also with the rest of the country, thereby promoting development, reconciliation and greater integration by bringing people in different parts of the island closer.
5. The completion of the Northern Railway line would also enhance connectivity between India and Sri Lanka. As part of this project, a pier is to be built at Talaimannar to enable resumption of ferry services between Rameshwaram and Talaimnnnar at an early date. With the construction of the railway line up to Kataragama and resumption of ferry services between Talaimannar and Rameshwaram Sri Lankan citizens would be able to travel by train from Hambantota and Matara to Bodhgaya as also to Jammu and Kashmir in North India, Gujarat in the West, Assam and the North-eastern states in the East.
6. As Sri Lanka’s closest neighbor and long-standing partner, India is prepared to extend its fullest support to Sri Lanka in fulfilling its aspirations for peace, harmony, national reconciliation and development. The reconstruction of the Northern Railway line represents a milestone in this historic partnership between India and Sri Lanka.