Colombo Light Rail: Linking Malabe, Battaramulla to Colombo | Sunday Observer

Colombo Light Rail: Linking Malabe, Battaramulla to Colombo

Last week, the daily newspapers reported that Sri Lanka has been uplifted into the category of upper middle income countries in terms of the Gross National Income (GNI) per capita. The media reports stated that Sri Lanka had reported a GNI per capita of USD 4,060 in 2018, which is just above the benchmark, USD 4,000. Does this uplift reflect in our day to day life?

The obsolete transport system of the country is one of the best examples that go against the positive claim. Tightly packed buses, unruly driving of three-wheel drivers and motor cyclists, never ending strikes at railway, make a clear picture where country stands in the transport sector.

The Colombo Light Rail (CLR) project is indeed a silver lining in this context. The dream project was launched last week at Cinnamon Grand Hotel, Colombo, with the participation of Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe, Megapolis and Western Development Minister Patali Champika Ranawaka, Japanese Ambassador to Sri Lanka Akira Sugiyama and other key officials of Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA).

The 16 km CLR linking Sri Lanka’s technology hub, Malabe and the commercial capital Colombo, aims to address traffic congestion of the Malabe, Battaramulla corridor to Colombo.

The project which will be opened to the public by 2025, is expected to reduce the average travelling time between Malabe and Colombo from 90 minutes to 32 minutes during peak hours.

A railway track will be constructed above the road and the elevated platform will be constructed with concrete/steel pillars. There will be 16 stations in between and in peak hours, a train will be available in every three minutes, Project Director of CLR, Eng. Commander (Retired) Chaminda Ariyadasa said at the launch.

At least 25 trains, each consisting of four compartments will be operative in CLR. This will enable each train to carry 800 passengers in a single journey.

‘Environment friendliness’ is another dimension of the project. CLR is to be the first railway line of the country driven solely by electricity. According to JICA estimates, this will reduce at least 53,929 tons of carbon emission per year as a result of the decrease of private vehicles of the Malabe corridor. “We are delighted of being able to assist in introducing a safe, reliable commuting system to Sri Lanka. This will enhance the living standards of the people of Colombo,” the Japanese Ambassador said.

The project will cost USD 2.2 billion (Rs. 390 billion). JICA will provide USD 1.85 billion as a soft loan. Under the terms of the loan, only 0.1 percent interest will be charged for civil works and procurement of equipment while the interest rate for consultancy services is 0.01 percent. Pay back time of the loan is 40 years, including a 12-year grace period.