Peradeniya-Katugastota Urban Railway on the Way

// August 23rd, 2009 // Uncategorized

The Ceylon Government Railway (CGR) is taking steps to come to the rescue of the harassed road commuters of Kandy who spend hours in buses, vans and cars during rush hours to travel a few miles. CGR wants to provide an urban rapid transit train service initially between Peradeniya and Kandy with provision to extend the system to Katugastota, Gampola and Kadugannawa depending on public demand for the service. A report on Kandy traffic congestion that the Kandy-based think tank Global Vision prepared with the assistance of The Asia Foundation made such a recommendation to the government last year. The researchers who based their recommendation partly on extensive public consultation of various stakeholders concluded that improvement of public transport was the most efficient and equitable solution to the Kandy traffic problem and that a commuter railway should be the top priority.

Director (Planning) of CGR Mr. S W Munasinghe told The Kandy News said that as a first step CGR is replacing the antiquated manually operated signals with colour lights on the track from Gampola to Katugastota and Peradeniya Junction to Kadugannawa. The Gelioya railway station has been rehabilitated and Pilimatalawa will be the next. The several bridges on the track are also being rehabilitated.

The Operations Manager of CGR Mr. G R P Chandrathilaka told The Kandy News that the longer term plan was to have parallel railway lines from Gampola to Kadugannawa and Gampola to Katugastota. The treasury has released funds for stage one of this project to construct a parallel line between Kandy and Peradeniya. The work is being held up by delay in acquiring lands along Gopallawa Mawatha on the northern side of the railway track currently occupied by private individuals. Almost all of it is railway land and the occupants have no legal claims to it. CGR is taking legal action to compel them to vacate but the legal process is protracted.

The Deputy Director General of the UDA Mrs. Janaki Hettiarachchi who is assisting the CGR says that there are about one hundred households that are affected. Some are willing to move their houses back to provide the required land for the new track and another group is willing to relocate if an equally good location could be found.

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