Work on the first phase of the Rs6bn (approximately $52m) Matara-Kataragama railway line in Sri Lanka is expected to begin shortly.

The 27km line will stretch from Matara to Beliatta and is expected to finish in 2010.

According to local transport ministry officials, feasibility studies for the line, which include geological investigation, have already been completed.

The project is to be funded by the Chinese government and is expected to be completed by 2015.

Once completed, the project will link the country’s deep south with other areas through rail for the first time.