A Sri Lankan rail project funded and executed by India today began operations with resumption of train services to the LTTE's erstwhile war-era stronghold in the island's Tamil-dominated north. President Mahinda Rajapaksa launched the 'Yal Devi' (The Queen of Jaffna) train that departed from Omanthai with Rajapaksa on board and arrived in the former LTTE headquarters of Kilinochchi, 30 minutes later. The service resumed after over two decades during which the LTTE attacked the Colombo-Jaffna train twice in the course of the Sri Lankan civil war. In January 1985, the train was blown up, killing 28 soldiers and injuring over a 100 passengers. Another attack by the LTTE in 1990 saw the complete abandonment of services. The restoration of the railway track destroyed by the protracted conflict began in 2009 after the military defeat of the LTTE. Indian engineering firm Ircon International was awarded the USD 185-million contract to restore the 62 km-long track route between Omanthai and Kilinochchi. The first phase of restoration saw the track being repaired between Vavuniya and Omanthai. Since the war ended in 2009, the Indian government has extended its support to Sri Lanka to rebuild the entire 252 km-long route under a USD 800-million credit line. The train would next be extended upto Jaffna, completing the full restoration of the service, railway officials said. Kilinochchi served as the LTTE's administrative capital during the three-decade ethnic conflict.
Lanka train chugs into former LTTE bastion once again
Press Trust of India |