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Sri Lanka opens China-funded railway line

By Xinhua and China Daily | China Daily | Updated: 2019-04-10 07:28

The Sri Lankan government on Monday officially opened a railway line constructed between Matara and Beliatta in the southern part of the island country. The hope is that it will boost passenger traffic into the deep south.

In the Matara railway station, a special train set off on its maiden journey on the newly-built railway around 9 am local time, and arrived at the final Beliatta station an hour later.

The 26.75-km long Matara-Beliatta railway extension was declared open for the public by Transport and Civil Aviation Minister Arjuna Ranatunga in the presence of Finance Minister Mangala Samaraweera and other parliamentarians.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Lu Kang said on Tuesday that the railway line will help improve transportation in southern Sri Lanka and promote local economic development.

This railway line is the first railway project undertaken by Chinese enterprises in the island country under the Belt and Road Initiative, Lu said, adding that it is also the first newly built railway line since Sri Lanka's independence in 1948.

China also feels happy for local people in Sri Lanka, he said.

"China is willing to continue strengthening cooperation with Sri Lanka under the framework of the Belt and Road to bring concrete benefits to the people of Sri Lanka", he added.

Ranatunga, speaking at the launching ceremony, said that the railway extension project was a victory for the country as it would immensely benefit the people, especially those living in Matara and Hambantota areas.

The minister expressed gratitude to the Chinese government for their assistance in the project.

"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 traveling from Colombo to Hambantota for the New Year," Ranatunga said.

The official said the remaining work of expanding the railway line from Beliatta to Hambantota and then to Kataragama in the Uva province will also commence soon.

The Matara-Beliatta railway line includes the country's longest and second-longest railway bridges of 1.5 km and 1.04 km, respectively.

Zhou Jin contributed to this story.

Sri Lanka opens China-funded railway line

(China Daily 04/10/2019 page11)

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