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Sri Lanka: Colombo Suburban Railway Project

Sovereign (Public) Project | 49111-002 Status: Active

The Colombo Suburban Railway Project will support the modernization of the railway network in the Western Province of Sri Lanka. The project will initially focus on the 64 kilometers (km) Veyangoda- Colombo Fort- Panadura section.

Project Details

Project Officer
Georget, Johan South Asia Department Request for information
  • Sri Lanka
  • Technical Assistance
  • Transport
Project Name Colombo Suburban Railway Project
Project Number 49111-002
Country Sri Lanka
Project Status Active
Project Type / Modality of Assistance Technical Assistance
Source of Funding / Amount
TA 9021-SRI: Colombo Suburban Railway Project
Technical Assistance Special Fund US$ 1.00 million
TA 9021-SRI: Colombo Suburban Railway Project (Supplementary)
Technical Assistance Special Fund US$ 225,000.00
TA 9021-SRI: Colombo Suburban Railway Project (Supplementary)
Technical Assistance Special Fund US$ 225,000.00
Strategic Agendas Inclusive economic growth
Drivers of Change Gender Equity and Mainstreaming
Governance and capacity development
Private sector development
Sector / Subsector

Transport / Rail transport (non-urban) - Transport policies and institutional development

Gender Equity and Mainstreaming Some gender elements

The Colombo Suburban Railway Project will support the modernization of the railway network in the Western Province of Sri Lanka. The project will initially focus on the 64 kilometers (km) Veyangoda- Colombo Fort- Panadura section.

The project will improve the capacity and operating speed of the railway network in the Colombo Metropolitan Region (CMR) by modernizing and upgrading track, signaling and telecommunication infrastructure; and potentially electrifying the suburban railway lines, focusing initially on the 64 km Veyangoda- Colombo Fort- Panadura section. The project will also support procurement of fast and modern commuter trains and modernization of rolling stock maintenance facilities, and upgrade railway stations to provide improved intermodal connectivity with other modes of public transport and through park-and-ride facilities at selected stations. The project will increase the capacity and attractiveness of the railway system, thus increasing its market share and reducing road congestion by shifting passengers to rail transport. The project will be designed on a modular basis to allow future expansion, e.g. until the Puttlam Line and Colombo Airport or until Galle, Kanday and the Kelani Valley Line and Battaramulla, and connect to Colombo Port.

The project is in line with ADB's Country Partnership Strategy 2012-2016, as it supports inclusive and sustainable economic growth by developing viable multimodal transport systems, including railways and the public transport system. The ensuing project will be processed as a project loan; the scope will be defined by the project preparatory technical assistance (PPTA) and project preparation including design and support for procurement and safeguards will be provided under a proposed technical assistance loan (TA loan).

The impact will be economic activities, the environment, and health of residents of CMR improved, aligned with the Government of Sri Lanka's Strategic Plan for Transport Management in the CMR. The outcome will be improved transport capacity in the suburban railway network of Sri Lanka Railways (SLR). The outputs will be (i) 64 km of infrastructure upgraded and modernized; (ii) XXX new trains commissioned; and (iii) project implementation capacity strengthened.

Project Rationale and Linkage to Country/Regional Strategy

The Western Province, which is also identified as the CMR, is on the western seaboard of Sri Lanka. The CMR extends over 3,684 km2 (5.6% of the land surface of Sri Lanka) with a population of 5.8 million (29% of the country), leading to the highest population density of 1,581 persons/km2 among Sri Lanka's nine provinces. Colombo district, one of the three districts in CMR, with a population of 2.3 million in 2012, is the most urbanized with 54.6% of Sri Lanka's urban population. Western provincial share of the national gross domestic product (GDP) is around 43.4% and has recorded the highest per capita income of SLRs 372,814 (approx. $2,922) in 2012. The GDP of Sri Lanka is expected to grow by 6.5% annually from 2015 to 2035 and the population by 1.5% over the same period.

The development of the railway network in Sri Lanka started in 1864. Currently ten railway network, which consists of around 1,500 route-km, is operated by the Department of SLR. Almost 90% of the railway network of the country is single track, with 126 km of double tracks, 14 km of three tracks and 3 km of four tracks with all multiple lines located within the CMR. The network covers much of the CMR along four major corridors, namely Main Line, Coastal Line, Kelani Valley Line and Puttlam Line totaling to 230 km. Railway provides an important service during the peak period as it acts as a commuter service from the outer suburbs to central Colombo.

There are long distance trains and commuter trains operated in the CMR. Out of the four railway lines radiating from Colombo and serving the CMR, the Main Line and the Coastal Line are well patronized especially during peak periods. The Puttlam Line and the Kelani Valley Line are single track and not as attractive due to low train speeds and frequencies. The Colombo Fort to Maradana section has the highest passenger volume of 136,438 passengers per day, followed by the Maradana to Ragama section with 120,876 passengers per day. The train frequency between Maradana and Fort is 228 trains per day, transporting on average around 950 passengers per train followed by the Maradana to Ragama section, with 150 trains per day carrying on average around 750 passengers per train. The Coastal Line is also fully utilized with an average passenger volume of 800- 1,100 per train.

On average over 110,000 passengers per direction enter the Colombo city by rail during a normal working day, which translates into around 13% of all passenger movements. Its contribution to freight transport is much less at around 3%. Due to a lack of track capacity in the urban railway network and lack of sufficient infrastructure at the two main railway stations in Colombo, the market share of the railway network is stagnant and trains often get delayed.

The low operating speed of the railway system is another reason for the stagnant ridership. The average speed on the Main Line is around 33 kilometers per hour (kph) while the speed on the coastal line is around 28 kph. Some sections on the Coast Line have very low speeds. Between Panadura and Ratmalana for example, the operating speed is around 18 kph while it is around 24 kph between Ratmalana and Fort. The operational speeds in these sections are even lower than that of the Kelani Valley line, which is around 25 kph.

Long delays also occur due to failures in the signaling system especially during rainy days, and the frequent failures of an outdated communication system. The poor track condition and lack of maintenance of the tracks also contribute to long delays. High loading level is another issue on the Main Line and the Coast Line especially during the peak period.

Project Outcome
Description of Outcome
Progress Toward Outcome
Implementation Progress
Description of Project Outputs
Status of Implementation Progress (Outputs, Activities, and Issues)
Geographical Location Bambalapitiya, Fort Station, Gampaha, Maradana, Moratuwa, Panadura, Ragama, Ratmalana North, Veyangoda Railway Station
Summary of Environmental and Social Aspects
Environmental Aspects
Involuntary Resettlement
Indigenous Peoples
Stakeholder Communication, Participation, and Consultation
During Project Design The Government, relevant agencies, and stakeholders are consulted throughout the project design phase to ensure smooth preparation and implementation of the PPTA, TA Loan, and subsequent projects.
During Project Implementation Consulting services for a firm of experts is ongoing. An individual consultant was also engaged in April 2018 to work with the German Agency for International Cooperation (GIZ) to assess the current vocational trainings and to recommend additional or upgraded training courses.
Business Opportunities
Consulting Services An international consulting firm was recruited by ADB using the quality and cost-based selection method with full technical proposal and a quality to cost ratio of 90:10 due to the specialized technical requirements and the nature of this project as a multidisciplinary railway project. The consultants were selected in accordance with ADB's Guidelines on the Use of Consultants (2013, as amended from time to time).
Procurement No procurement activities will be administered in the PPTA.
Responsible ADB Officer Georget, Johan
Responsible ADB Department South Asia Department
Responsible ADB Division Transport and Communications Division, SARD
Executing Agencies
Sri Lanka Railways
Sri Lankan Railways, Colombo 10, Sri Lanka
Concept Clearance -
Fact Finding -
Approval 11 Dec 2015
Last Review Mission -
Last PDS Update 23 Sep 2018

TA 9021-SRI

Approval Signing Date Effectivity Date Closing
Original Revised Actual
11 Dec 2015 21 Jan 2016 21 Jan 2016 31 Oct 2016 31 Dec 2019 -
Financing Plan/TA Utilization Cumulative Disbursements
ADB Cofinancing Counterpart Total Date Amount
Gov Beneficiaries Project Sponsor Others
1,450,000.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 1,450,000.00 11 Dec 2015 1,284,377.69

Project Data Sheets (PDS) contain summary information on the project or program. Because the PDS is a work in progress, some information may not be included in its initial version but will be added as it becomes available. Information about proposed projects is tentative and indicative.

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Safeguard Documents See also: Safeguards

Safeguard documents provided at the time of project/facility approval may also be found in the list of linked documents provided with the Report and Recommendation of the President.

None currently available.

Evaluation Documents See also: Independent Evaluation

None currently available.

Related Publications

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Tender Title Type Status Posting Date Deadline
TVET Expert Individual - Consulting Closed 14 Mar 2018 20 Mar 2018

Contracts Awarded

Contract Title Approval Number Contract Date Contractor Contractor Address Executing Agency Contract Description Total Contract Amount (US$) Contract Amount Financed by ADB (US$)
Project Preparatory Technical Assistance 9021 20 Jun 2016 EGIS International (France) in association with EGIS International, France (France) 78 Alee John Napier, 34965 Montpellier C 15, Avenue du Cent Re Saint-Quentin-en-Yv Cedex, France 78286 Sri Lanka Railways 994,461.00

Procurement Plan

None currently available.