ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka Monday signed an agreement with Japan for a soft loan to build a light rail transit (LRT) system connecting the capital Colombo’s commercial centre with the Malabe suburb, cutting travel time to about 30 minutes. ‘
The entire rail track and stations will be on elevated viaducts to minimize requirement of land acquisition, Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), the Japanese aid agency, said in a statement.
The concessionary loan agreement for 30 billion yen (about 48 billion rupees) between the government of Sri Lanka and JICA is for engineering services and construction of an LRT line between Malabe and Colombo Fort.
“In order to promote technology transfer and economic cooperation between Sri Lanka and Japan, JICA’s loans for this project are provided under Special Terms for Economic Partnership,” the statement said.
The loan will carry an annual interest rates of 0.1 percent for civil works and equipment cost, 0.01 percent a year for engineering services cost and have a 40-year repayment period including 12 years’ grace period.
“JICA is proud to be the partner of the government of Sri Lanka in establishing the very first urban LRT line in Sri Lanka. It will fundamentally change the face of public transport in this country, ease traffic congestion and improve the environment of Colombo city,” said Fusato Tanaka, Chief Representative of JICA Sri Lanka Office.
“We hope the government will take sustainable measures to ensure proper operation and maintenance, so that the benefits of Japanese technology and concessionary funding could be enjoyed by the public of Sri Lanka.”
At peak travel times in the morning and evening, trains are planned to run every 2-3 minutes, with each four-carriage train having a passenger capacity of over 800, which could be increased by adding more carriages in future when necessary.
With aN 80km/hour top speed, travel time from Malabe to Fort will be about 30 minutes, including stopping time at stations, with the LRT, the statement said.
The Malabe-Fort LRT line with a total length of about 16 km, with 16 stations, will connect Colombo’s commercial hub with the administrative capital, and significantly reduce travel time in the most congested transport corridor in the country, and the only major corridor currently not supported by railway.
The stations are placed at frequently accessed locations and include Malabe-IT Park, Battaramulla, Rajagiriya, Cotta Road Railway Station, National Hospital, up to the current Fort/Pettah Railway Station.
JICA said that to facilitate inter-connectivity with other public transport modes, multi modal terminals are proposed at Malabe (together with bus terminal) and Cotta Road (connecting with railway).
At Fort/Pettah, the LRT line will connect to the planned Multi Modal Transport Hub accessible to both railway and bus.
“Station facilities and LRT carriages will be designed to ensure accessibility to persons with disabilities, as well as passengers with small children and senior citizens,” JICA said.
The feasibility study, including the Environmental Impact Assessment for the Malabe-Fort LRT line, was conducted with grant financing from JICA and has been approved by the Central Environmental Authority.
Although the elevated viaduct will minimise the requirement, some land acquisition is needed at the LRT depot and some of the station locations, JICA said.
The Ministry of Megapolis and Western Development, the executing agency for the project, will acquire land in accordance with the National Involuntary Resettlement Policy, and JICA’s environmental and social considerations guidelines to ensure inclusive development through public projects.
JICA said that since the railway tracks and stations are constructed at high elevation and over national roadways with high traffic volume, appropriate safety measures during construction are critical to ensure the safety of the construction personnel and the general public.
“JICA will continue to pay special attention to safety aspects in implementation of the project.”
JICA is the implementing agency for Official Development Assistance from the government of Japan, and is one of the largest contributors to the transport sector in Sri Lanka.
JICA financed 66km of the Southern Expressway and Kottawa to Kadawatha section of the Outer Circular Expressway. JICA is also currently financing the new bridge across the Kelani River at Peliyagoda which is planned to be completed in 2020.
(COLOMBO, March 11, 2019-SB)