The Indian Government will give 20 repurposed locomotives to Sri Lanka in a donation confirmed by the island nation’s national rail operator. 

The donation of engines that have been taken off India’s rail network in favour of electric alternatives was confirmed by Sri Lanka Railways’ General Manager H.M.K.W Bandara. 

Integration of the locomotives into Sri Lanka’s network will begin in February when two of the vehicles will be imported over before being joined by the other 18 later in the year. 

While the deal was originally announced in September 2023, it has only now been confirmed after Sri Lanka’s Department of Railways sent over a team of experts to assess the vehicles and decide whether they would be appropriate for the country’s own network. 

Confirmation of the donation marks another significant investment by India into the railway network of its neighbouring island nation, following a $15m investment agreed under the Indian Loan Scheme in late 2023 into the modernisation of signalling and communication systems of the incoming Mahave to Anuradhapura line. 

Speaking at the signing of the agreement outlining the investment, where the request for the 20 locomotives was also confirmed, the then acting Secretary of the Ministry of Transport and Highways LH Thilakaratne described the Indian High Commissioner as a “very close friend of Sri Lanka.” 

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Thilakaratne thanked the Indian Government for its contributions, mentioning that the country’s railway department was in short supply of locomotives, and said: “I believe that with all these relations, the long standing friendship between Sri Lanka and India will be further strengthened.” 

India’s investment into a foreign railway network joins significant work on its own rail infrastructure, with Prime Minister Narendra Modi recently launching operations of the country’s first Regional Rapid Transit System in the state of Uttar Pradesh as part of a $4bn project connecting capital city Delhi to two major cities in the state.