Renovation of Kelani Valley railway line at a cost of Rs. 1.27 billion commences

(LANKAPUVATH | COLOMBO) – With the aim of providing a more efficient service to the commuters, the Kelani Valley (KV) railway line renovation railway project was started off Thursday at the Homagama Railway Station premises under the patronage of the Minister of Transport, Highways and Mass Media, Dr. Bandula Gunawardena.

This repair project will be carried out using the functional parts including rails removed from the Northern line which is currently being developed. The project is expected to be completed within two years.

To repair the 59 kilometers long KV line from Maradana to Seethawaka (formerly Avissawella), 2,359 rails and 25,728 concrete sleepers will be used and the estimated cost is Rs. 1.27 billion.

Speaking at the occasion, Minister of Transport Dr. Gunawardena said The Kelani Valley Railway, which started in the British colonial era, should be transformed into an electric railway in a way that suits the modern era to provide more effective service to the people.

For that purpose, plans had been prepared to carry out the modernization of the railway under a systematic and specific program under the aid of the Asian Development Bank loan. Although every effort was taken after his appointment as the minister in charge of the subject to carry out the modernization according to the plan, it was not successful, the Minister said.

“Currently, it is difficult to get a loan again until the country’s foreign debt is restructured. International organizations such as the Asian Development Bank and the International Monetary Fund work according to an accepted methodology for all countries. The common problem faced by every government in Sri Lanka remains unsolved till today,” the Minister lamented.

He explained that only two activities can be done with the tax income received by the government. “72% of it is spent on the payment of government employee salaries and pensions. 28% is spent on paying subsidies including Samurdhi. Then not even a cent will be left in the Treasury.”

“Accordingly, every government that has existed has done every development work by taking loans both domestically and abroad. But the truth about that has not been explained to the people. Under this situation, if more recruitments are made to the public service and salary increases are made, the entire tax income will have to be allocated to pay salaries,” he added.

The Minister expressed optimism that By October, the talks on debt restructuring will be successful and an agreement will be reached with the world. “After that, I believe that all stalled development activities will be able to resume.”

“Until then, we have taken steps to carry out essential development activities by carefully managing the existing resources. Accordingly, the reconstruction of Kelani Valley railway line will be started today using the usable parts that will be removed during the reconstruction of the Northern Railway Line, and the reconstruction work of the railway line from Anuradhapura to Mihintale has also started.”

After four years, unloading of a ship carrying 10,000 rails received by Sri Lanka under the Asian Development Bank loan was completed recently.

The Minister said he expects the time taken to travel from Avissawella to Colombo will be reduced by half an hour after the completion of this renovation work using those resources. At the same time, a change is made in the signaling system.

Western Province Chief Secretary Pradeep Yasaratne, Homagama Divisional Secretary B. A. D. Chinthaka, Railway General Manager W. A. D. S. Gunasinghe, Deputy General Manager (Infrastructure) H. M. W. Bandara and other officials, government officials, local public representatives and others participated in this event.

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