Colombo-KKS Travel time will reduce by two hours – Minister
Ministry signs contract with India’s IRCON Company
The travel time from Colombo to Kankesanthurai will reduce by about two hours after the new signal system is installed, Transport, Highways and Mass Media Minister Dr. Bandula Gunawardhana said.
The contract agreement for the project to modernise the signal and communication system of the Mahawa to Anuradhapura railway line was done at the Transport and Highways Ministry Auditorium yesterday (21).
The Acting Ministry Secretary L.H.Thilakaratne signed the agreement on behalf of the Transport and Highways Ministry and Parag Varma representing Board of Directors of the Ircon International Company which is operating under the Indian Government signed the agreement. US$ 15 million will be spent on this project implemented by Indian Exim Bank under the Indian Loan Scheme.
Speaking on this occasion, the Minister said; “Indian High Commissioner Gopal Bhagle is a very close friend of Sri Lanka. He made an unparalleled contribution to carry forward many projects that had been stalled under the Transport and Highways Ministry. Calling of tenders for all of these projects had been completed prior to my ministry taking over responsibility. Cabinet approval was granted for this in 2015.
Tenders had been called for in 2018/19. Subsequently, various forces tried to delay the start of this project, continuously.
In order to restart this project, which was further disrupted due to the Covid-19 epidemic and economic collapse, I, as the Minister, the Secretary of the Ministry and the General Manager of Railways also went to the office of the Indian High Commissioner and engaged in a discussion with him. At that moment, he promised to give his full contribution to restart the projects without any conditions, which had been halted at that time. Accordingly, with his participation and other officials, after engaging in religious rituals at the Anuradhapura Jaya Sri Maha Bodhi, the development work of the Northern Railway commenced.
The work on the section from Anuradhapura to Omanthai has been fully completed. In January, steps will be taken to start the development of the railway line from Anuradhapura to Mahawa.
In the meantime, agreements for practically implementing the tender which had been awarded on behalf of a well-developed signal and communication system valued at US Dollars 15 million are being signed now.
Accordingly, by July of the upcoming year, a railway line on which trains can be operated at 100 kilometers per hour from Colombo to Kankesanturai will be completed. I believe that it will be possible reduce the time of this journey by two hours and that it will enable us to have the strength to provide a very effective railway service to the people.
I take this opportunity to thank and present my respects on behalf of the people of Sri Lanka to the Indian government which provided assistance, the Prime Minister and the Indian High Commissioner.
Also, I made a request from the Indian High Commissioner to provide us with about twenty locomotives for the Railway Department, which is in short supply. Accordingly the Indian High Commissioner has informed me that they are considering the facts regarding providing twenty-three railway engines to Sri Lanka.
I believe that through all of these connections, the long-term friendship that exists between India and Sri Lanka will be confirmed further.”
Indian High Commissioner to Sri Lanka Gopal Bhagle, Highways State Minister Siripala Gamlath, Eastern Province Governor Sendhil Thondaman, First Secretary of the Indian High Commission Irina Thakur, Transport and Highways Ministry Acting Secretary L.H. Thilakaratne, representing the Board of Directors of Ircon Company, Parag Verma, Anand Kumar Singh, as well as a group of representatives, ministry officials and others were present on the occasion of signing of these agreements.