The Government of Sri Lanka and the Ministry of Transport have entrusted the construction of the Matara to Beliatta Phase I railway extension to China Machinery Corporation (CMC).
The difficult topography and geology of the terrain is challenging. The rail-extension will consist of twelve bridges, and two tunnels. Railway stations will be set up at Babrenda, Kekanadura, Wewurukannala and Beliatta The alignment is kept without any tight horizontal and vertical curves, gradients, and it will come nearly level-crossing free.
It will take probably another 3-5 years to finalize this high costly and prestigious project. Still the earth filling for the Beliatta Railway Station and marshalling yard is not completed. Several new high earth-fillings are yet not properly settled. Such high fillings with local available soil will need at least 4 years to settle. It is questionable if the high fillings on marshy subsoil without inside state-to-the-art Geo-Mesh/Grid (Steel or Geotextile) elements for stabilization to prevent yielding will have the appropriate yielding stability, bearing capacity and support modulus for the later to be laid track and Railway Stations in progress. The formation should have a support modulus of at least 20 MPa/m².
Problematical could be also the stiffness transitions (abrupt change of the vertical stiffness) between soft embankment strata and hard open-deck concrete bridges at the numerous abutments.
The costly 26 km rail-extension project might come finally to at least 25-30 Million US Dollar per kilometer track-route (overall Project Costs of about 500 to 600 mio. US $), and it will become a big financial burden for the country.
The author inspected the ongoing works in June 2016, June 2017 and January 2018. In the period of the last 5 month not much progress had been visible.
For a track-laying opening ceremony with the State Minister for State Enterprise Minister, Mr. Lakshman Yapa Abeywardena on January 12h, 2018, some already corroded Chinese 25 m long UIC 60 E1 rails have been carried from the Hambantota storage yard and laid temporarily between Matara and the Nilwala Ganga Bridge without weld-connections on India manufactured concrete sleepers marked with the SLR stamp, and with Indian shoulder plates for UIC60 rails, clipped to the rails with Indian Mark III ERC Clips, but inserted with the ERC-Leg in the Shoulder-Plate housing provisionally by Chinese workmen in the wrong direction, so that the needed clamping force, to hold the rails properly, is not reached, and this on an unfinished formation without the required 1 in 20 slope for draining the water off under the already laid Sub-Ballast, without sufficient Sub-Ballast thickness, without sufficient Ballast-Cushion thickness and without Ballast-Shoulders. On this trace already once under President R. Premadasa (President from 1989 until 1993) a rail-track had been laid up to the Nilwala bridge for political demonstration.
Sri Lankan Minister for State Enterprise Development Lakshman Yapa Abeywardena said during the tracklaying ceremony on Friday 12.01.18. that the Island Nation was hoping to “finish the first phase of the project in the coming months”, which would benefit the public and tourists.
The current state of affairs in January 2018 is delineated in the downloadable updated PICTURE GALLERY. In January 2018 the author got the impression that the work at several places has come close to a standstill and that it will take another 3 to 5 years until a train-service can be provided up to Beliatta.
.To read more, download:Matara-Beliatta Rail Extension Project, Part II, January 2018 PDF