The Government of Sri Lanka has opened a railway line extension between Matara and Beliatta in the southern part of the country.
The 26.75km-long rail link was inaugurated by Sri Lanka’s Transport and Civil Aviation Minister Arjuna Ranatunga in the presence of other officials.
The project was funded by the Export-Import Bank of China, while China National Machinery Import and Export acted as the general contractor.
A major section of the railway line was built by China Railway Group 5 (CR5) and Sri Lanka’s Central Engineering Consultancy Bureau (CECB).
In its maiden run, a special train departed the Matara railway station at 9:00 am local time and reached Beliatta station in an hour.
The project is expected to boost railway travelling in the southern part of the country, benefitting the people residing in Matara and Hambantota areas.
Minister Ranatunga said: “I am also glad to be able to open this railway line before the Sinhala and Tamil New Year so that it would benefit the people travelling from Colombo to Hambantota for the New Year.”
He added that the remaining construction works to extend the line from Beliatta to Hambantota, and subsequently to Kataragama, will begin soon.
The Matara-Beliatta railway line includes two of the largest bridges in the country, stretching 1.5km and 1.04km.
It also features the longest railway tunnel and modern railway stations.
Last month, the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) signed an agreement to provide a loan of up to JPY30.08bn ($270m) to construct a light-rail transit (LRT) system in Sri Lankan capital of Colombo.