Share of rail transport to be upped in WP, CMR | Daily News


Share of rail transport to be upped in WP, CMR

Master plan to cater to projected future demand:

The government aims to increase the share of rail transport in overall passenger and freight transport significantly by developing and modernising the Sri Lanka Railway (SLR) network in the Western Province and the Colombo Metropolitan Region (CMR).

The demarcated area covers four major heavily congested passenger corridors, namely, the Kelani Valley Line, the Main Line, the Coastal Line and the Puttalam Line.

Transport and Civil Aviation Minister Arjuna Ranatunga said this move will be geared to the expected rapid increase in the number of rail commuters in the future.

Speaking at a media briefing in Colombo, the Minister said the Railway master plan will improve the countrywide railway system catering to future passenger and goods transport demand by ensuring quality, safety, and affordability with the widest possible modal mix and technological innovations for the next 20–30 years,

He said the master plan includes the ADB-funded Colombo Suburban Railway Project and the Kandy Suburban Railway Project.

The Colombo Suburban Railway Project includes the Kelani Valley railway improvement programme, Colombo Suburban railway efficiency improvement project, and Colombo Suburban railway (electrification) project.

Electrification and double-tracking of the Kelani Valley Line will be implemented under the programme. In addition, the ADB will assist in developing the Main Line and Coastal Line too. The Kelani Valley Line serves a densely urbanised area in southeast Colombo and is currently a single-track railway line with few passing loops and frequent level crossings.

Construction of an elevated dual track on a viaduct structure is proposed as part of Phase 1 of the Kelani Valley Railway Improvement Programme. The proposed elevated section of the Kelani Valley Line is approximately 20.8km-long and runs between Maradana and Malapalla. The balance section up to Padukka will be rehabilitated.

The recently opened Multimodal Transport Center (MTC) links the Malapalla station – the terminating railway station of the Kelani Valley line – with short and long-distance buses routed via Makumbura and expressway buses plying on the Southern Expressway and Outer Circular Expressway. It will enable passengers to safely and comfortably change between bus and train services, and reduce overall travel time.

Meanwhile, the passenger volume is expected to increase fourfold by 2035. Hence, the number of trains and the frequency of trains also needs to be increased to cater to the demand. Therefore, SLR intends to improve the Main Line by constructing the fourth track within the Maradana – Ragama section; the third track within the Ragama – Veyangoda section; the Colombo – Panadura section; rehabilitating the existing double track up to Rambukkana in view of electrification; development of the Panadura –Kalutara section and Colombo –Negombo section installing a signaling and telecommunication system; improving auxiliary structures and passenger facilities; and construction of modernized railway stations.

The Minister further said that sanitary and other basic facilities will be improved at railway station islandwide.

He added that a huge amount of money is yet to be collected by the Sri Lanka Railways as lease arrears for land owned by the department.

We hope to set out a scheme to lease the SLR lands for tourism purposes in the future to create several revenue avenues for the SLR, the Minister said.

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