The construction of the Colombo Light Rail (CLR) Project is expected to commence in 2020, after the completion of detail design and tender process, the Megapolis and Western Development Ministry said.
The project is scheduled to be completed in 2024 allowing the CLR system to be opened for the public by 2025.
The total investment of the project is US $ 2.2 billion and US $ 1.85 out of the total would be provided by Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) as a soft loan.
The interest rates of the loan for the civil works and procurement of equipment is 0.1 % and for the Consultancy Services 0.01 % per annum. The repayment period is 40 years which includes a 12-year grace period.
The CLR Project was officially launched at an event held in Colombo on Wednesday July 03. It was attended by Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe and Minister of Megapolis and Western Development Patali Champika Ranawaka.
Addressing the launch, Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe said the Fort Railway Station will also be converted into a multi-purpose transportation hub soon. “We have to think of the future if we are to develop the nation,” he said.
Meanwhile, Minister Champika Ranawaka recalled that the late Member of State Council late D. L. Wimalasurendra constructed the Lakshapana power plant with a view of introducing an electric train system in the country in 1924.
However, the Minister said Sri Lanka had not been able to achieve that target though almost 100 years have gone by since the efforts made by late Mr. Wimalasurendra.
According to the Megapolis Ministry, the population of the Western Region was 5.8 million in 2012 spread over a 3,684 sq km of land area.
It is estimated that the total population of the region will increase up to 7.8 million by 2025 and further increase to 9.1 million by the year 2035. With the growth of the population, the demand for transportation is increasing at a rapid rate.
It is estimated that around 450,000 cars, vans, three-wheelers, motorcycles and 29,000 mass transit vehicles, mainly buses come into the Colombo city, carrying 1.8-1.9 million people on a daily basis.
The situation will worsen by 2035 with the estimated flow of daily commuters increasing up to around 4.4 million.
The Colombo Light Rail (CLR) will connect Malabe and Fort with modern light train service and cut the travelling time from 45-90 minutes to 32 minutes once the project is completed.
In this project, a 16km long rail track will be constructed on an elevated platform made of concrete/steel pillars and beams which facilitates to run electrically operated trains. The track is constructed mainly on the centre lines of the existing roads. On the CLR route, there are 16 train stations along the route and a depot area which will be built near Chandrika Kumaratunge Mawatha, Malabe for the maintenance and storage of rolling stocks.
The train sets which have comfortable, ample space, safe, clean, secured cars (compartments) will be designed and supplied by Japanese manufacturers.
The viaduct of the railway line is 804m wide and there will be an additional 2m of secured area at both sides as Right of Way (RoW). Around 25 trains will be used for this system and each train is composed of four cars, with a total capacity of 800 passengers.
Once the system is commissioned, it will take about 32 minutes to travel from Fort Station to the last station at IT Park Malabe. During the peak hours trains will pass a station at every three minutes. It is also expected to introduce limited-stop trains which can cover the total distance by 28 minutes at off-peak hours. The project will be designed and constructed giving due consideration to gender mainstreaming and Barrier Free Access.
This project is expected to provide safe, comfortable and reliable travelling experience for all in the city of Colombo. More importantly, the time saving and the easy, comfortable travelling experience will not only increase the productivity of the workforce but also increase the standard of life in Colombo. The reduced fuel consumption as a result of decreased vehicle usage is expected to decrease carbon emission by 53,929 tons per year making CLR an environment-friendly project. It also will reduce traffic accidents which save not only the properties but also the precious lives of people. (Yohan Perera)\
Pix by Nimalsiri Edirisinghe