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Railway development, viable alternative to costly Central Expressway

Nov 08, 2017 (LBO) – Sri Lanka’s transport sector experts questioned the need for an expensive four lane expressway with interchanges which will create its own problems of increasing congestion in and around Kandy. Mechanical Engineering Sectional Committee of the Institution of Engineers in association with the Sri Lanka Society of Transport & Logistics recently held a panel discussion on expressways. The panel comprised of Prof. Amal S. Kumarage, retired GM of Railways Priyal de Silva and railway consultant Ranjith L. Dissanayake. This discussion was intended at raising awareness on least cost and sustainable mobility solutions as alternatives to expressway building. The panel recommended the government to construct only a 2 lane highway from Pothuhera to Galagedera saying it can reduce cost by at least 60 percent. "Traffic studies do not warrant a four-lane expressway even until 2036. The travel time difference will only be 5 minutes," "A modern 80 kmph two-lane highway will reduce environmental and social impacts, while reducing costs significantly by more than 60% as expensive interchanges can be eliminated." They also recommended to start immediate short term rail upgrade at a cost of 11.5 billion rupees with the cost saving of reducing 4 lanes to 2 lanes. Government plans to construct the Pothuhera to Galagedara section which covers 32.5 kilometers with 150 billion rupees despite controversy. The panel, however, says the current plan of railway electrification and modernization can easily be extended under several options to provide superior mobility to the hill capital at a faction of the cost. “A new railway access plus a two-lane highway can be built for what is being proposed to be spent on a four-lane expressway which will take at best 115 minutes,” “Claims that the expressway will connect Kandy in one hour is misleading and should be corrected. The increase in traffic the expressway will bring to Kandy city as well as Colombo has not been studied." Their presentation also calls for a policy decision on building an intercity express railway network to Kandy which can be extended to other cities to supplement the current network which dates back 200 years. “Such a line to Kandy could be done at less than the cost of an expressway and is the path followed by many countries as the 21st century solution to modern mobility solutions,” “The availability of different access modes to stations will make door to door travel not only fast, but comfortable and economically sustainable.” The presentation gave studies of four different railway traces from Rambukkana to Kandy for a new line capable of connecting Kandy from Colombo within 90 minutes. Central-expressway-alternative Full presentation is reproduced below.
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