Matara-Kataragama Railway Line – Railway Technology



The first stage of the railway line was inaugurated in April 2019. Credit: Hafiz Issadeen.

The first phase of the China-built railway is an important step in the implementation of the Maritime Silk Road and Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) projects. Credit: Dan arndt.

The Matara-Beliatta line is 27 km long. Credit: Genertec.

The Matara-Kataragama Railway Line is a 114.5 km long Sri Lankan railway project. The project will extend the coast line from Matara to Kataragama.

This is one of the pilot projects being built under the Mahinda Chinthnaya (which means Vision for the Future in the Sinhala language of Sri Lanka), a multi-year political program launched by the government of Sri Lanka in the aim to advance the economic growth rate of the country. .

The Matara-Kataragama railway line is added to the existing 1,450 km of the national rail network. Estimated at $ 366 million, the project was owned and will be operated by Sri Lanka’s Ministry of Transport. The project was completed in 2015.

The new rail line, which is being built in collaboration with China, aims to facilitate efficient and economical transport services in the region by promoting competition between rail and road. It is also intended to help commuters to remote areas of Matara while increasing the number of pilgrims visiting sacred places in the Southern Province.

A Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to build the line was signed between the Sri Lankan government and China in 2006.

The first phase of the project was completed in April 2019. The financing of the extension of the railway line was provided by the Export-Import Bank of China (China Exim Bank). China National Machinery Import and Export Corporation won the contract for the expansion project. Most of the construction was handled by the Central Engineering Consultancy Bureau. China Railway No.5 Group (CR5) and Sri Lankan state-owned company Central Engineering Consultancy Bureau (CECB) carried out the majority of the construction. China Railway Electrification Engineering Group is also part of the project.

Matara-Kataragama railway line project details

The project takes place in three stages with the installation of a double track on the entire route. However, only one runway was initially planned to be built.

Stage 1 consists of a 27 km long rail route from Matara to Beliatta. Construction on this section began in April 2010 and the road was opened to the public in April 2019.

The route includes four main stations at Kekanadura, Bambarenda, Wewurukannala and Beliatta and two substations at Piladuwa and Weharahena. There are plans to add more stations to this section in the future depending on passenger demand.

As of July 2010, approximately 1,411 pieces of land had been acquired from residents for the construction of the railway line between Matara and Beliatta. The railway department had to pay LKR 710 million as compensation to the people to whom the land had been acquired. Civil engineering and clearing works were also carried out.

The 48 km long second phase will involve a continuation of the railway line from Beliatta to Hambantota, while the final phase will include a 39.5 km long railway line from Hambantota to Kataragama.


The project will have brand new level crossings on the main roads to prevent accidents.

The Matara-Beliatta section has 12 bridges. A new 170m long bridge over the Nilwala Ganga, located one and a half kilometers from Matara station, was completed in August 2008 after a two-year construction period.

Built at a cost of LKR91m, it is the longest railway bridge in the country. About 90% of the construction cost was realized by CITIC.

Stage I also featured bridges at Walawe Ganga, Kirindi Oya, and Kirama Oya, which are expensive and long. The route has a 600 m long tunnel.

The journey time between Matara and Beliatta is 20 minutes and the trains run at a speed of 120 km / h.

Sri Lankan Railways

Railways account for only 7% of land transport in Sri Lanka, and road transport 93%. Colombo, the capital of Sri Lanka, is connected to the main cities of Kandy, Galle, Matara, Anuradhapura, Gampaha, Negombo, Kurunegala, Avissawella, Kalutara, Polonnaruwa, Batticaloa, Trincomalee, Badulla, Gampola, Nawalapitiya, Matale, Vavuni etya, Puttalamia Chilaw, located in nine provinces.

The first railway line was opened in April 1867 between Colombo and Kandy. Most railways were only developed during British rule as distribution networks for plantations that cultivated products such as tea, rubber and coconuts. This led the railways to focus more on plantation areas and less on population and service centers.

The lines to Jaffna, Kankesanturai and Mannar were destroyed by the LTTE group.

Some of the narrow gauge lines from Nanu Oys to Nuwara Eliya, from Avissawella to Yatiyantota and from Avissawella to Ratnapura and Opanayaka have been dismantled due to financial losses.

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