Matara-Beliatta railway track opened | Sunday Observer

Matara-Beliatta railway track opened

The long-awaited Matara-Beliatta railway track was opened for public service last week. Minister of Transport and Civil Aviation, Arjuna Ranatunga and Minister of Finance Mangala Samaraweera, State Ministers Ashok Abeysinghe and Dilip Wedaarachchi and Parliamentarians Nimal Siripala de Silva, Chamal Rajapaksa and Mahinda Amaraweera were also present.

The 26.75 km-long rail link funded by the Exim Bank of China (US$ 278.2 million), while China National Machinery Import and Export Corporation (CMC) was the main contractor.

“I am delighted to open this railway track before the Sinhala and Tamil New Year as it would benefit passengers travelling from Colombo to Hambantota during the festive season,” said Minister Ranatunga. The Minister assured that construction work on the Beliatta-Kataragama railway track would begin soon. The track from Matara to Kataragama is estimated to be 115 km.

There are six stations (Kekenadura, Bambarenda, Wewurukannala and Beliatta) including two substations (Piladuwa and Weherahena).

The railway track has 18 level crossings, 12 bridges, 49 culverts, 23 upper ground tracks, 16 lower ground tracks including the longest railway tunnel (615 metres) and longest railway bridge (1.5 km) in Sri Lanka.

The construction of the 27 km track from Matara to Beliatta came under flak at one time, with political parties such as the JVP criticising the decision taken by the former Mahinda Rajapaksa administration to spend USD 278 million on the rail track that would run directly to the former President’s home electorate. In 2013, JVP Leader Anura Kumara Dissanayake told Parliament that this expenditure meant that every kilometre of rail track from Matara to Beliatta would cost USD 10 million.