Sunday Observer Online


Sunday, 31 January 2016





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Government Gazette

Upgrade rail transport to boost tourism - Ircon official

Sri Lanka should upgrade its rail track network and make it an efficient mode of transport to develop the tourism industry, Project Director, Ircon International Limited, S.L. Gupta told the media in Colombo last week.

Gupta said an efficient railway network to the North and the East, which has immense potential for tourism development, should be built to woo travellers who wish to get to their destinations fast.

“Trains which amble rather than move at an accepted speed will not help spur tourism growth. Such a mode of transport will not be effective,” he said. Ircon officials underscored the importance of upgrading the coastal lines especially the Colombo-Kalutara stretch which needs urgent improvement.

They said the East coast which is a preferred tourism destination needs easy access through a sound transport system. The railway is a commercially viable and safe mode of transportation.

Gupta said when one could reach Jaffna from Colombo within four and a half hours it takes him six and a half hours. The rail network should be upgraded to reduce the time taken to reach destinations.

Rail transport experts said the 393 kilometre distance to Jaffna from Colombo could be covered within four hours if trains travel at 100 kmph.

Gupta said the company is ready to undertake tasks it is entrusted with and added that they would be in Sri Lanka for the next two years.

Responding to the alleged shortcomings in the relaying of the Northern railway track, he said a small segment had made a mountain out of a mole hill, while a large number of people were happy with the work done by Ircon.

Ircon International Limited, a Government of India undertaking, under the Ministry of Indian Railways, will complete seven years of existence in Sri Lanka in March. Ircon undertook the upgrading of the tsunami devastated coastal line and the reconstruction of the Northern railway track which helped resume rail transportation to the North after a lapse of nearly 30 years.

Ircon commenced its charter with the mandate to upgrade the Kalutara–Galle-Matara coastal railway line in March 2009. The coastal line was devastated by the tsunami in 2004.

Gupta said rail joints have been replaced using state-of-the-art welding technology, while the latest the technology such as pre-stressed concrete sleepers, CMS (Cast Manganese Steel) crossings with standard turnouts, long welded rails with switch expansion joints, modern signalling and telecommunication systems, mechanized tamping and packing were incorporated to provide a long-lasting track, with minimal maintenance. Maintenance work is 50% less in this modern track compared to available conventional tracks in Sri Lanka. “Ircon not only executed the projects but also imparted technical and managerial skills to personnel from the Sri Lanka Railways and the CECB who were associated with the projects,” said Gupta.

Besides the enormous benefits being reaped by the public due to the restoration of rail connectivity between the North and the South, the Government through the Ministry of Internal Transport is also earning a huge revenue. “It is learnt that the Yal Devi train runs full, with bookings being done several days in advance”, said Gupta. As a few projects are still under the warranty period, Ircon has been maintaining adequate resources to meet its defect liability obligations.

“With the completion of the Northern Province railway lines, Ircon is keen on assisting the Sri Lanka Railways in its future infrastructure development projects,” Gupta said.

Completion of the Northern Province railway project has benefited the Tamil people in many ways and this also has been a major factor for restoring normalcy in the region.

“It is also of paramount importance that every Government should leave no stone unturned to develop rail transport as it is the most fuel-efficient, safe, customer and environment-friendly mode of transport, ensuring all round development of the country,” said Gupta.



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