Rail, bus services to be modernised
The express train about to leave the Galle station
The 30-year-old conflict is now over. The Government spent millions
of rupees to bring peace to the country. Now the country needs to win
the economic war.
Winning the economic war is a challenge to the Government. The
security forces cannot help the Government win the economic war. It is
up to the Ministers and Members of Parliament to help the President to
achieve this goal.
To achieve this objective, the Government will have to pay more
attention to develop all sectors including agriculture, education and
health. In addition, the Government should also develop the transport
sector which is an essential service in a developing society.
As we are aware, Governments in the past took various measures to
strengthen the country's rail and bus transport services. The present
Government has also taken numerous steps to develop the transport
sector. Repairing unused buses and rail carriages lying at CTB depots
and railway yards, importing new buses and increasing the number of
trains are some of the steps taken by the Transport Ministry as a
solution to the transport problem.
The Transport Ministry has also commenced a program to modernise
existing railway lines for high speed trains.
Under this program, the Government has planned to upgrade all major
railway lines countrywide to provide a quicker transport service than at
present. Accordingly, Sri Lanka's first modernised railway line from
Galle to Matara was declared open by Transport Minister Kumara Welgama
on February 14.
The 43 km high speed railway line from Galle to Matara was
constructed by an Indian Company IRCON at a cost of US $ 36 million.
The train takes 35 minutes to ply between these two destinations at a
speed of 100 kmph.
Transport Minister Kumara Welgama and Sri Lankan High Commissioner
for India Ashok K. Kantha were among the distinguished personalities in
the inaugural train ride to Matara. Several officials of the IRCOM
Company of India who constructed the track also travelled on the train.
On their way to Matara, Minister Welgama took the wheel like a
professional engine driver.
People on either side of the rail track greeted the train by waving
According to Minister Welgama all main railway tracks in the country
including the upcountry and Northern railway lines will be modernised
within the next four years to increase speed levels.
In an interview with the Sunday Observer at Matara Railway Station,
Minister Welgama said that the high speed coastal railway track will be
extended from Galle to Colombo under two stages.
"In addition, the Government will also complete the most needed
Southern line from Matara to Kataragama.
The construction work of the railway track from Matara to Beliatta is
expected to commence in April this year and the whole track upto
Kataragama will be completed in two years".
Speedometer touching 100 kmph
The Kandy-Colombo railway track will also be upgraded to enable
locals and foreigners to travel between these two destinations in a
The Minister also said that the Government has made arrangements to
import twenty power sets from China in the next six months. Three power
sets have already arrived in the Colombo port.
The Minister said all unprotected railway crossings will be installed
with gates with the assistance of local authorities.
The Railway Department has also planned to clear up large scale
railway yards to cultivate vegetables.
Minister Welgama said that in addition to train services, the Sri
Lanka Transport Board's services will also be strengthened by adding
more buses to the fleet. The current fleet of 5,300 buses will be
increased up to 7,000 and the late night bus service will be
There are a large number of unused buses which are lying at depots
and we expect to repair them. When interviewed, High Commissioner Asok
Kantha said the upgraded coastal railway line will largely benefit
people to cut down travel time. This project will also strengthen the
close co-operation between the two countries.
He said India was committed to work with the Sri Lankan Government
towards the consolidation of peace, prosperity and development in Sri
Lanka. He said steps have also been taken to complete the Northern
railway line from Omanthai to Kankesanturai via Jaffna before schedule.