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* Sri Lanka's Northern Rail track to Madhu opens
Tue, May 14, 2013, 11:01 pm SL Time, ColomboPage News Desk, Sri Lanka.

May 14, Medawchchiya: After a gap of 25 years, Sri Lankans paying homage to Madhu Church in Madhu can now take the train from Medawchchiya in Anuradhapura District.

Sri Lanka's Minister of economic Development Basil Rajapaksa along with the High Commissioner of India in Colombo Ashok Kantha today commissioned the reconstructed railway track from Medawchchiya to Madhu.

As part of the ceremony, the dignitaries undertook a train journey in brightly-colored red trains obtained from India from Anuradhapura to Madhu.

The 43-kilometer Medawchchiya to Madhu segment of the 106 kilometer long Medawchchiya - Thalaimannar line was laid at a cost of US$ 81.3 million under the first phase of the Northern Railway Project.

The Indian Railway Construction Company Limited (IRCON) carried out the construction work which is being financed under a US$ 425 million credit facility from India.

Commissioning the service, Sri Lanka's Minister for Economic Development, Basil Rajapaksa said "India has been with Sri Lanka at every step in the rehabilitation and reconstruction of Northern Sri Lanka."

High Commissioner Kantha, in his remarks, said India is committed to working with the Government of Sri Lanka towards the consolidation of peace, prosperity and development in the country. He termed the occasion as "historic" and noted that regular train service between Medawchchiya and Madhu Road has been restored after a gap of about 25 years.

The Indian government had pledged a US$ 800 million line of credit at significantly concessional rates for various aspects of the Northern Railway project, including reconstruction of railway lines, installation of signaling and telecom systems and the procurement of rolling stock.

The work on the various segments is progressing as per schedule, and includes track laying in Medawchchiya - Madhu Road, Madhu Road - Talaimannar and Omanthai - Pallai and Pallai - Kankasanthurai covering a total length of 252 kilometers and installation of signaling and telecommunication systems on all these sectors.

The High Commissioner said the train services to Thalaimannar and also to Jaffna and Kankasanthurai were expected to start by end-March 2014, well ahead of schedule, after the completion of track laying work, signaling and other necessary infrastructure, and trial runs.

A new pier at Thalaimannar would also be built to pave the way for resumption of ferry service between Thalaimannar and Rameswaram, the High Commissioner said.

Minister of Transport Kumara Welgama, Minister of Industry & Commerce Rishad Bathiudeen, Minister of Traditional Industries & Small Enterprise Development Douglas Devananda, Governor of the Northern Province G. A. Chandrasiri, Deputy Minister of Transport Rohana Dissanayake, and Deputy Minister of Youth Affairs & Skills Development Duminda Dissanayake also attended the ceremony.

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