Invitation for a challenging mission to Chief Minister Wigneswaran: Install an electric rail track system linking Jaffna to Colombo
Just after the end of the civil war that cost the nation immensely, this same open invitation was originally extended to the President Rajapaksa in 2009 to set up a fast electric rail track linking Jaffna to Colombo, which sadly saw no light of the day.
It is very unfortunate that the Colombo government had no vision to tap the wealth of resources (foreign funding that was waiting to be awarded to the battered nation) that were at its disposal just after the war, to make this challenging proposal a reality. Instead the government has been simply working over-time to re-build the 18th century rail tract at a great cost, which takes the nation nowhere, as it would hopelessly fall short of what the people of this Island nation yearning for. The need of the hour is a fast rail track, possibly a double track, to run between Colombo to Jaffna in 1 ½ to 2 hours and not a tract that takes half a day to complete the journey.
In this backdrop, the same proposal is now being made to a different personality, this time to one of the remarkable sons of Mother Lanka, the Justice turned politician Wigneswaran. He is a proven character with integrity, miles ahead of his contemporaries in both North and South. There is no doubt that he is a competent man with a vision and potential to make this dream a reality for the benefit of the whole nation.
Probably this may not be the only step in the right direction to heal the mistrust between distanced two ethnic groups but it could certainly open up the eyes of all Lankans to identify the true national leaders on whom they can place trust, shunning aside the petty, irrelevant racist mindset, that has hitherto helped only to destroy the nation.
Why all Lankans should extend their support to make this mission a reality
The city of Colombo is the most densely populated city that heavily depends of the agriculture produce supplied from all the other regions such as Kurunegala, Anuradhapura, Vavuniya, Mullittive, Kilinochchi and Jaffna Districts. All these producing districts, which are located en-route to Jaffna, supply the bulk of rice, potato, onion, variety of cereals, fruits, vegetable and also dried and fresh fish supplies to the capital city of Colombo, barring Polonnaruwa, which is located on the Colombo-Trinco mainline, just 20 miles down the link city Habarana positioned in the Colombo-Jaffna mainline. Except Polonnaruwa other major collection centers such as Kurunegala, Mahawa, Anuradhapura Medavachchiya Vavuniya and Jaffna where all kinds of agro based produce get piled up, are located on the Jaffna-Colombo mainline. Therefore, the fruits of making this project a success is far-reaching and almost all the sectors of the economy would be benefited beyond imagination and it could be a hitherto unprecedented socio-economic transformation.
Therefore, what this country needs today is a fast electric rail track that runs at a reasonably good speed of 125 miles per hour at the minimum (the average speed of the electric trains in the European mainland, the UK and India). This is the right answer to very many problems including the passenger transport that at present heavily rely on the road transport network that takes minimum of 10 hours or more to reach Jaffna.
Therefore, making of this proposal a reality, reflecting modern realities to create harmony within the two communities, is the right answer and the best gift that one could offer to the nation at large. This is what people expect from those who are elected to the public office if they are genuinely concerned about the needs of the people. And not wasting public funds in billions in utterly hopeless projects that serve no purpose at all expect providing opportunity to handful of people for unjust enrichment. They must take up real challenges of this nature, which would be within their reach and this is the way that the trust and understanding between the two communities in the North and the South could be rebuilt by addressing their economic needs with due respect and recognition of their right to equality.
Sri Lanka’s fatally failed rail industry
Analysis of the modern railway systems world over demonstrates that Sri Lanka is completely out of touch with the modern railway industry and is totally ignorant on the prevailing international standards designed to meet people’s demands. In this context the efforts made by the government with an investment of several billions of rupees of taxpayers money to rebuild the northern line simply suggest that the decision makers in the South are completely out of touch and unconcerned of the technological advancements in the modern world.
London Manchester mainline covers a distance of 216 miles in 2 hrs and 15 minutes with a electric train runs at a moderate speed of about 100-125 miles per hour. The TGV, the rail network use in France broke the 200 mph barrier more than half a century ago.
In India, the Delhi-Agra electric train, a high-speed electric locomotive (150 kmph), covers a distance of 198 miles journey in less than 2 hours. The high-speed electric track system proposed to be built between Mumbai and Ahmadabad (534 kilometers) is estimated to cost the Indian taxpayer 63 billion Indian rupees and 70% of the revenue is expected from the freight services offered by this modern rail track system. This information simply shows that the proposed project is a realistic and achievable.
However, where does Sri Lanka stand today? It has a completely obsolete railway system of which the speed is not even worth mentioning. Since independence this country has failed to produce a single visionary leader to move forward and catch up with the technological advances in all spheres. And where does our neighbor India stands? It appears some sort of system in place there and India has taken right initiatives at right time to transform its old rail network to electric network for the betterment of both passenger transport and freight services.
Map of electrification of Indian Railway network
What matters most is the right leadership with a vision
No doubt that people belongs to two ethnic communities battered by the bitter war, as well as the international community that is under pressure with influx of refugees, are eager to see lasting peace, stability and harmony established in this country. The modernization of the Jaffna- Colombo mainline with a electric track system, in line with modern technology, is one of the best solutions, because the meeting of this target is realistic and the total distance to be covered is manageable, just 190 miles and realization of this goal would resolve many major issues.
Assured help and assistance
Perhaps, the Chief Minister Vigneswaran is the right man to launch this project and to make it a reality within his period of office as the Chief Minister, with technical and financial assistance from friendly nations and all Lankans including those living abroad. India, China, the European Union, Japan, Canada, would come forward to extend their support and this will also be a good eye opener for all Lankans to grasp, who are the true selfless leaders in politics committed to serve the nation.
It is with great pleasure I offer my support for this project to make it a success with a firm offer of £1000.00 to initiate the fund raising campaign. I am sure that other fellow citizens, who love to see that this beautiful country is heading in the right direction with a right political leadership would do follow suit.
Set standards for those who hold public office in the South
Innocent people in this island nation had suffered enough in the hands of the corrupt for so long and surely Justice Vigneswaran is fully cognizance of this undeniable truth. People in the South and the North expect him to set the correct benchmark and standards in politics based on moral integrity hitherto unknown in this country. This may probably be the best opportunity for him to prove his worth to the nation, because he is highly regarded as a man with high degree of integrity and competency acceptable to moderate communities in the North and the South.
Perfect gift to all Lankans in the North and South
Realisation of this dream is not only an economic hit but it would also help to bring the two ethnic communities together based on mutual trust and respect. Because the North has been too far away and out of reach for far too long.