By Chaturanga Samarawickrama
An agreement was signed yesterday between the Transport Ministry and the Indian Government to upgrade the 113 kilometre railway track from Maho to Omanthai, which was originally laid during the British era 115 years ago. IRCON International Limited Chairman and Managing Director Sunil Kumar Chaudhary signed the agreement on behalf of the Indian Government and Transport and Civil Aviation Ministry Secretary L.P. Jayampathi had signed on behalf of Sri Lanka. IRCON international is a government of India undertaking. The company also built the railway track from Omanthai to Kankesanturai after the war was over. The project will be implemented under two segments - from Maho to Anuradhapura, and then from there to Omanthai .
The Maho - Anuradhapura segment of the northern line had been commissioned in 1904 and Anuradhapura to Omanthai in 1905. “In such a long period, no major modifications have been done and only the required basic repairs were carried out,” Transport Minister Arjuna Ranatunga said speaking during the event.
“Due to aging and old features, it is difficult to maintain the above segments and they need to be upgraded to new and modern standards,” he said.
“The railway track from Omanthai to Kankesanthurai (KKS) was laid by IRCON after the end of the war and trains can travel between the 100 and 120 kmph in that segment,” he noted. “From Maho to Anuradhapura, the trains are running at a restricted speed of 40 Kmph and at even slower speed in about 64 locations. It takes about three hours to travel between Maho and Omanthai even with the maximum approved speed of 60 kmph. “After the upgrading the journey could be done at a maximum speed of Rs.120 kmph,” Minster Ranatunga said.
“All the upgrades would be done by the IRCON International Limited, India with a total of USD 91.26 million within a period of three years,” the Minister said.
“A new station would also be commissioned between Medawachchiya and Vavuniya, near the A9 Kandy-Jaffna Road.
“The project corridor will cover 12 crossing stations and seven halting stations.`
A new station would also be commissioned between Medawachchiya and Vavuniya, near the A9 Kandy-Jaffna Road