Oct 13, Jaffna: Marking another milestone in Sri Lanka Railway history, the iconic north-bound Yal Devi train reached Jaffna this morning after it stopped running between north and south 24 years ago.
Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa flagged off the train at the auspicious time of 9:30 a.m. from Palai station and rode the train to Jaffna as a special passenger.
The President declared open the newly constructed train stations in between Palai and Jaffna at Chavakachcheri, Nawakkuli and Kodikamam and the Jaffna Railway Station at the end of the journey.
The massive crowd gathered welcomed the President according to traditional Hindu rituals. Following the warm welcome the President declared open the newly constructed Jaffna Station.
Ministers Kumara Welgama, Douglas Devananda, Bandula Gunawardena, Indian High Commissioner Y. K. Sinha and Defence Secretary Gotabhaya Rajapaksa accompanied the President on the train ride.
The Northern Railway Line from Vavuniya to Kankasanthurai in the northernmost tip of the island was completely destroyed by the Tamil Tiger terrorists during their reign. The rebels uprooted the rail tracks to build reinforced underground bunkers.
The rail line was reconstructed in stages by the India Railway Construction International Ltd. (IRCON) with the financial and technical assistance from India.
Tamil Tiger terrorists bombed the Yal Devi train at Kokavil on January 19, 1985 killing 34 people and destroying the train tracks. The attack effectively ended the north-south rail transport.
After the war ended in May 2009, the Yal Devi recommenced operations to Thandikulam on June 6, 2009 and then extended its run to Omanthai on May 29 of 2011. It commenced services to Kilinochchi in September 2013 and extended the service to Pallai in March this year.