Matara–Beliatta railway line: Journey towards Southern Development | Daily News


Matara–Beliatta railway line: Journey towards Southern Development

The trains arriving at the Beliatta railway station.
The trains arriving at the Beliatta railway station.

A period of transition occurred in the transport service in the Hambantota District and its adjoining areas under the farsighted policies implemented by the previous Mahinda Rajapaksa Government. They focused on the uplift of the transport service in the area since it had proved to be a catalyst for the development of the South.

The Matara–Beliatta railway line has proved to be a boon to travellers to the Hambantota District. It is the only district in Sri Lanka which has been provided with all four modes of transport – road, railway, air and sea. The Southern Expressway, the Matara–Beliatta railway line, the Hambantota Port(also known as the Magampura Mahinda Rajapaksa Port) and the Mattala Rajapaksa International Airport (MRIA) greatly contribute towards the transport of passengers, commodities and agricultural products of the farming community.

With the inauguration of all these transport services in the area, the tourism industry in the Hambantota District reached greater heights, ordinary and star class hotel owners in Hambantota, Tangalle and Tissamaharama said.

The construction work of the Matara–Beliatta railway line was inaugurated in the presence of the then Transport Minister Kumara Welgama, the then Speaker Chamal Rajapaksa, Minister Mahinda Amaraweera and Chinese envoys during the previous Mahinda Rajapaksa Government. This is the first-ever railway line constructed in Sri Lanka since independence from the British in 1948, apart from the short Mihintale line constructed during the 1990s. According to chronicles, after the railway service was introduced in 1877, a railway line was built from Colombo to Panadura, which was extended up to Matara in 1895.

The construction work of the Matara–Beliatta railway line was started in August 2006. Even after the foundation stones were laid, the construction work remained abandoned for several years due to land acquisition issues, priority given to the war effort and other issues. The construction work was re-commenced on August 1, 2013. The main contractor of the Matara– Beliatta railway line was China National Machinery Import and Export Corporation and the sub-contractor was the China Railway Services Company. The estimated cost of the Matara - Beliatta railway line was US$ 278 million. The project was funded by the Export-Import Bank of China.

The significant feature of this railway line is that 10 percent of the construction work has been done upon flyovers. It is also to be extended up to Kataragama from Beliatta. The entire construction work of the proposed railway line is to be implemented in three phases – from Matara to Beliatta, from Beliatta to Hambantota and from Hambantota to Kataragama. The railway line from Matara to Beliatta is 26.75 Kilometres long. It was set up across Nilwala River in Matara and the bridge across the river is 434 metres long. It is the longest railway bridge in the country. The entire railway line from Matara to Beliatta consists of 12 bridges and two tunnels.

An extent of 87 hectares was acquired for the construction of the railway line evacuating 350 families and compensation to the tune of Rs. 903 million was paid to them. The route includes four main stations at Kekanadura, Bambarenda, Wewurukannala and Beliatta and two sub-stations at Piladuwa and Weharahena. The Beliatta Railway Station is one of the most modern railway stations on the island. It consists of three platforms and a station covering a 110-metre plot of land. It was vested with the public on April 8, 2018, by the then Transport and Civil Aviation Minister Arjuna Ranatunga. Five Chinese couples were married at the newly opened Beliatta railway station to mark the opening of the Matara-Beliatta railway line.

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