Aug 19, Colombo: For the first time in its history, the Asian Development Bank will provide US $ 161 million for the development of Sri Lanka's railways.
Of the total assistance, $ 1 million is a non-refundable grant. The remaining US $ 160 million is a concessionary loan with an eight year repayment grace limit and an interest of 0.5% (+ LIBOR).
The loan agreement between the Ministry of Finance and the Asian Development Bank will be signed tomorrow (20), Minister of Transport and Civil Aviation Arjuna Ranatunga said speaking at a media conference held at Temple Trees today.
The press conference was convened by the Development Communication Unit of the Prime Minister's Office and the Ministry of Transport and Civil Aviation.
Minister Arjuna Ranatunga pointed out that rail transport is the most economically viable and environmentally friendly service in public transport and eight projects will be implemented with the financial assistance of the ADB to modernize the railway service with the aim to get more people to use railways for transport.
Minister Ranatunga said his ministry and he had focused attention on the development of the railway sector and had made a great development in the railway services.
Highlighting the improvements to the railways, the Minister noted that Matara - Beliatta railway line opened, and an agreement has signed to commence work on upgrading the Maho central track to Increase operating speed to 100 km/h while construction of the Kurunegala-Habarana track has commenced.
"Also engines and power sets have been imported from China and India and those have been added to the passenger service. Furthermore, twelve S-13 power sets will be imported from India. Nine S-14 locomotives have already been imported from China for the upcountry line. Ten M11 engines will be imported from India. Steps have been taken to purchase 160 passenger coaches. In addition project has been started to refurbish and modernize 200 coaches that were discarded. By all these measures we mainly expect to get people to use more rail transport."
The Minister emphasized that the US$ 161 million grant from the Asian Development Bank is immensely important to accelerate this development. Eight major projects will be launched by the Railways Department with the ADB assistance.
Establishment of a new system of Railway Ticketing and Seat Reservation, Construction of Railway Control Office and Railway Operations Headquarters, Establishment of a Railway Training Center, Development of the Kelani Valley Railway Line and concurrently the building of a 108-unit Housing Complex near Malapalla Railway Station, New factory, warehouse for railway mechanical engineering sub department of Ratmalana and purchase of machinery, the implementation of the Kandy suburban railway project and widening of the Colombo Maligawatte subway are the projects planned to be implemented with the ADB assistance.
Secretary to the Ministry of Transport and Civil Aviation P. Jayampathy, General Manager of Railways Dilantha Fernando, Project Director Palitha Samarasinghe, Attorneys-at-Law Sudarshana Gunawardena, Director of Development Communication Unit of the Prime Minister's Office, were also present.