• India
  • Jan 11

Sri Lanka launches luxury train service with India’s assistance

• Sri Lanka has launched a luxury train service connecting the country’s Tamil-dominated Jaffna district to the capital city Colombo with the help of a Line of Credit offered by India, in another significant landmark in bilateral ties.

• The intercity rail service with all facilities was launched on January 9 for passengers travelling from Colombo’s Mount Lavinia suburb to Jaffna’s Kankesanthurai port suburb in the north, covering a distance of approximately 386 km.

• India had provided AC Diesel Multiple Units (AC DMUs) under the loan facility.

• The train service will criss-cross the island nation, connecting Colombo with Kankesanthurai on the northern tip of the Jaffna Peninsula, which has a Tamil-majority population.

• The supply of air-conditioned diesel multiple units is just one of the many railway projects being undertaken by India in Sri Lanka. There are also other ongoing projects, which include supply of passenger coaches under an Indian Line of Credit.

• India’s total development portfolio in Sri Lanka is over $3.5 billion, of which around $570 million are purely grant projects.

• Modernisation of railways and creation of new railway infrastructure have been important sectors of focus under the Indian government’s development portfolio in Sri Lanka, in line with the priority of the government and people of Sri Lanka.

India-Sri Lanka relations

• India and Sri Lanka have a legacy of intellectual, cultural, religious and linguistic interaction and the relationship between two countries is more than 2,500 years old. Trade and investment have grown and there is cooperation in the fields of development, education, culture and defence. Both countries share a broad understanding on major issues of international interest. 

• The nearly three-decade long armed conflict between Sri Lankan forces and the LTTE came to an end in May 2009. During the course of the conflict, India supported the right of the government of Sri Lanka to act against terrorist forces. At the same time, it conveyed its deep concern at the plight of the civilian population, emphasizing that their rights and welfare should not get enmeshed in hostilities against the LTTE. 

• Political relations between the two countries have been marked by high-level exchanges of visits at regular intervals. 

• India and Sri Lanka enjoy a vibrant and growing economic and commercial partnership, which has witnessed considerable expansion over the years. The entry into force of the India-Sri Lanka Free Trade Agreement (ISFTA) in 2000 contributed significantly towards the expansion of trade between the two countries. 

• Economic ties between the two nations also include a flourishing development partnership that encompasses areas such as infrastructure, connectivity, transportation, housing, health, livelihood and rehabilitation, education and industrial development.

• India has traditionally been among Sri Lanka’s largest trade partners and Sri Lanka remains among the largest trade partners of India in the SAARC. In 2020, India was Sri Lanka’s second largest trading partner with the bilateral merchandise trade amounting to about $3.6 billion.

• In addition to being Sri Lanka’s largest trade partner, India is also one of the largest contributors to Foreign Direct Investment in Sri Lanka. 

• Sri Lanka is one of India’s major development partners and this partnership has been an important pillar of bilateral ties between the two countries over the years. With grants alone amounting to around $570 million, the overall commitment by the government is to the tune of more than $3.5 billion.

• Demand-driven and people-centric nature of India’s development partnership with Sri Lanka have been the cornerstone of this relationship. Grant projects cut across sectors such as education, health, livelihood, housing, industrial development, etc.

• The Indian Housing Project, with an initial commitment to build 50,000 houses in war affected areas and estate workers in the plantation areas, is Indian government’s flagship grant project in Sri Lanka. Overall commitment of Rs 1,372 crores makes it also one of the largest projects undertaken by the Indian government abroad. 

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