Southern railway track moves beyond Matara again | Sunday Observer

Southern railway track moves beyond Matara again

A railway line beyond Matara, a dream for over a century is becoming a reality as State Minister for Public Enterprise Development with many other dignitaries associated with the project tightened the stays on the first length of track laid by China National Machinery Import & Export Corporation (CMC).

The project to construct a railway line beyond Matara, first got off the ground in December 1991 with then Minister of Transport Wijepala Mendis laying the foundation stone and turning the first sod.

The foundation stone for Nilwala Railway Bridge was laid in 2006. Every time the Southern railway extension project got off the ground it could not be completed due to lack of funds until the Chinese Government agreed to fund it. On the October 31, 2013 the construction of Phase I of the Matara – Beliatta section of the proposed Matara – Kataragama Railway Extension line with stations at Kekanadura, Bambarenda, Wewurukannala and Beliatta and two sub-stations at Piladuwa and Weharahena was awarded to China National Machinery Import and Export Corporation, a Chinese government entity. The project costing US$278.2 million was funded by China Exim Bank.

“President Maithripala Sirisena is keen on commencing phase II of the Southern railway extension project once the Matara – Beliatta railway line is operative,” Minister of Public Enterprise Development Lakshman Yapa Abeywardena said at the ceremony held to lay the railway track beyond the Matara station.

Phase I, the 26.75 kilometre Matara Beliatta railway extension comprises four stations and two substations covering a total floor area of 24,000 square metres, 66 culverts, 12 bridges totalling 3,789 metres in length, two tunnels totalling 882 metres in length and 3.4 million cubic metres of earthwork.

The 615-meter long Nakuttiyagama tunnel will be the longest railway tunnel in the island while the 1.5-kilometre long Wattegama Bridge will be the longest railway bridge as much as the 15-metre tall Weralagoda Bridge will be the tallest railway bridge.

Phase two of the Southern railway extension project is from Beliatta to Hambanthota, a distance of 48 kilometres.

“We are privileged to be associated with the southern railway extension project as its consultants,” said Eng. G D A Piyathilake Chairman of the Central Engineering Consultancy Bureau. “The CECB will cooperate with the main contractor to complete phase one within this year. The Southern railway extension project will be a landmark project when it becomes operative” he added.