Eastern Province railbus project commences

The Eastern Province railbus project was formally inaugurated in Batticaloa yesterday by Indian High Commissioner in Sri Lanka Shri Alok Prasad, together with Dallas Alahapperuma, Minister of Transport and Basil Rajapaksa, Senior Advisor to the President.

Also present on the occasion were the Chief Minister of the Eastern Province Sivanesathurai Chandrakanthan, Ministers Ameer Ali and V. Muralitharan, the Mayor of Batticaloa Sivageetha Prabhaharan and Eastern Province Minister M. L. A. M. Hizbullah.

A press release issued by the Indian High Commission in Colombo said: "The project aims to provide a quick and affordable avenue of transport between Batticaloa and Trincomalee by converting conventional buses to run on existing rail tracks. The Government of India has accordingly provided ten buses (at a cost of SLR 44 million) to Sri Lanka Railways and also made available an additional SLR 22 million to pay for the cost of conversion of these buses into 5 railbus units in the Sri Lanka Railways workshops in Ratmalana. The entire project, costing about SLR 66 million, is expected to be completed by the end of August 2009. It is hoped that, when the service is fully in place, passengers will not have to undergo delays in making the journey from Batticaloa to Trincomalee and back.

The project is a manifestation of Government of India’s commitment to the development of the Eastern Province and its desire to contribute to the efforts of the Government of Sri Lanka in building up infrastructure in the Province, so as to assure an early return to normalcy and stability in the lives of the people."

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