Kelani Vallay Line Development


Existing Kelani Valley (KV) Railway Line is not very attractive to commuters due to low train speeds and frequencies. The avreage speed of KV Line is as low as 26km/h. Long delays occur due to poor condition of track, failures in signalling system and high loading levels, specially in peak periods.The Railway line runs along and through urban ceters such as Dematagoda, Narahenpita, Kirulapona, Nugegoda, Maharagama, Pannipitiya, Homagama, Padukka, Kosgama and Avissawella. Homagama and Padukka are the urban centers through which the passengers from Horana corridor can be attracted.The daily passenger volume is only 14,600 (approximately 10% of the total pasenger volume in the corridor), due to above limitations such as low speeds, less frequency (only 3 to 4 trains in the peak hour) and frequest delays. All the trains (except two trains serving school children) in the line are operated during morning and evening peak periods.

However, KV line serves three corridors to Colombo city, namely, Avissawella, Horana and Malabe.

Profile of KV Line

Travel Time comparison: by Bus and by Train

Demand for KV Railway Line - Study Results

Year Number of Trains operated
Daily Number of Trains Trains in Peak Hour peak Direction Headway (time between trains)
2018 18 3 15 to 30 Mts
2025 – After Development 60 12 [10 coach train set] 7 Mts
2035 – After Development 60 12 [12 coach train set] 7 Mts

Specific Issues in KV Line which is not found in Other Railway Lines in Sri Lanka

  1. Number of Level Crossings
  2. 148 Level Crossings in 64 km (03 Level Crossings in every kilometer)

    Section Existing Plan
    Section 1 : Before Malapalla (20 Km) 56 nos NIL
    Section 2 : Malapalla to Avissawella (15 km) 92 nos 61 nos
    Total 148 nos 61 nos

    • Maradana – Kottawa (20 km)
      • Total Number of Level Crossings : 56
      • Out of 56, 22 have been surveyed
        • More than 5000 Vehicles in Peak Hour – 02 Lx
        • More than 2000 Vehicles in Peak hour – 03 Lx
        • More then 1000 Vehicles in peak hour – 10 Lx
        • More that 500 vehicles in peak hour – 05 Lx
      • All other level crossings too are busy during peak hours
    • Kottawa – Padukka Section (15 km)
      • Total Number of Level Crossings : 92
      • Out of 92, 30 can be closed by providing ‘by roads’
      • Out of balance 61, 18 have been surveyed,
        • More than 500 vehicles in peak hour – 03 Lx
        • More than 200 vehicles in peak hour – 03 Lx
        • More than 100 vehicles in peak hour – 07 Lx

  3. Construction of Fly-overs for Level Crossings
  4. Provision of fly-overs has become impossible for majority of level crossings due to existence of High Level Road, running in parallel and very close to Railway Track (if constructed, one side of the fly-over will be landed on the High Level Road)

  5. Existance of 09 km of Parallel Roads within the Railway Reservation
  6. In the first 20 km section from Maradana to Makumbura, 09 km of parallel roads runs along and within the railway reservetion. These parallel roads (Ex: the parallel road from Navinna to Kottawa) are the access roads to many villages, houses and business establishments and hence, they can not be closed.

  7. Very High Land Value of the KV Line Alignment
  8. The Railway Right of Way (RoW or Railway Reservation) along the KV Line is very narrow and it veries from 8 to 12 m. The entire section (20km) from Colombo to Kottawa is heavilly urbanised and the area adjoining the Railway RoW consists of developed private housing and business establishments.

  9. The Railway RoW is heavily encroached
  10. Approximately 2400 families live in Railway RoW, in the section from Colombo to Padukka. When considering about the minimum RoW required for the new KV Line development, it has been identified that, approximately 1600 families live in the Construction Boundary.

  11. Many curves in the existing railway line
  12. In the 35 km section from Maradana to Padukka, there are 115 curves and the total length in curve sections is 16 km (46%).

  13. Railway Stations at short intervals
  14. The railway stations are situated very close to each other and there are 24 railwaty stations in the section from Maradana to Padukka (35 km). The distances between stations vary from 0.6 km to 1.9 km. This limits the commercial speed of KV Line. The entire KV line uptp Awissawella (60 km)consists of 36 stations.

  15. KV Line runs through Colombo Golf Club Ground
  16. Double track with frequest train service will cause difficulties in using Colombo Golf Ground. Solution is to construct railway as underground or elevated.

Kelani Valley Railway Development Design

When considering the above specific issues which are not observed in other Railway Lines in Sri Lanka, design of Kelani Valley Line is a very critical endeavor. Therefore, several studies were conducted to properly evaluate the KV Line development solution alternatives.

  1. KV Line Alternative Solutions study conducted by M/s. Egis International of France : 09 solution alternatives were evaluated in this study.
  2. KV Line Feasibility Study conducted by M/s. Dohwa Engineering JV of Korea : 03 alternatives for the Horizontal Alignment and 04 alternatives for Vertical Alignment have been considered in this study

The reader is requested to download and refer the undermentioned reports regarding KV Line Development

  1. KV Line Alternative Solutions study report
  2. KV Line Final Feasibility study report
  3. KV Line Design Criteria for Infrastructure report
  4. KV Line Design Criteria for Systems
  5. KV Line Design Report

Specific Factors considered in selecting the solution for the Keleni Valley Line

  1. Implement the project in two phases, Maradana to Padukka and Padukka to Avissawella – this is to cater Horana Corridor
  2. Colombo to Padukka section to be constructed as double track – this is to cater demand for railway in 2035 and to operate punctual and frquuent train service
  3. All stations must have mutimodl features such as integration with bus operation and park and ride – this is to encourage modal shift from bus and car to rail
  4. Travel time needs to be optimised – this is also to attract passengers
  5. The universal access to and from trains ,and within the trains ,need to be provided.
  6. Aviod disturbance to vehicular traffic at level crossings – this is to avoid traffic congestion in High Level Road and Baseline Road
  7. Land acquisition to be minimised – this is to avoid disturbance to lives of people and to save GoSL funds which will be used for payment of compansation.
  8. Relocations to be done as per National Involuntary Resettlement Policy (NIRP) and ADB Safeguard Policy
  9. Parallel Roads (09km) should not be disturbed. – even if they get disturbed for the doual track, the roads are to be restored by acquiring lands.
  10. Environmental issues such as Niose and Vibration need to be mitigated
  11. Protect Colombo Golf Club Ground
  12. Cost of the construction must be minimised – this is to select the solution with minimum cost

Solution for Horizontal Alignment

Three Options were considered and the section from Maradna to Homagama was considered for the analysis,

1 The alignment is planned within the existing ROW as much as possible. The curves are straightened within the railway ROW  to improve the commercial speed. This option will minimize additional land acquisition.
2 The alignment is planned with the maximum speed of 70 km/h and minimum radius of curves of 300 m. This option makes the alignment laid out of the existing ROW at certain sections. This will cause considerable land acquisition.
3 The alignment is planned with the maximum speed of 80 km/h and minimum radius of curve of 400 m. This option makes the alignment laid out of the existing ROW at many sections. This too will cause considerable land acquisition

Travel Time Analysis through Train Performance Simulation (TPS)

The commercial speed of the existing alignment is of 23.5 km/h and travel time is 68 minutes from Maradana to Homagama.

The following table indicates the improvement to commercial speed and travel time of the three options. Travel time improvement is only 5 minutes in Option – 2 when compared with Option-1. But the difference in expenditure between the two options, is considerable. This is mainly because of the additional land acquisition.

Item From Maradana to Homagama Remarks
Commercial Speed
Travel Time
Existing Alignment 23.5 68 ( ) is velocity or time difference between Existing Alignment
Option 1 35.2 (+ 11.7 ) 41.6(-26.4)
Option 2 37.5 (+ 14.0 ) 36.6(-31.4)
Option 3 37.3 (+ 13.8 ) 36.2(-31.8)

Comarison of Options

From Maradana to Homagama
Items Option 1 Option 2 Option 3
Length 34.9 km 33.2 km 32.8 km
Minimum Radius of Curvature 120 m 300 m 400 m
Commercial Speed 35.2 km/h 37.5 km/h 37.3 km/h
Travel Time 41.6 min. 36.6 min. 36.2 min.
Land Required Land 394,601 m2 369,598 m2 364,155 m2
Existing Land 365,392 m2 259,576 m2 192,159 m2
Additional Land Permanent 21,907 m2 82,517 m2 128,997 m2
Temporary 7,302 m2 27,506 m2 42,999 m2
Alignment Engineering Due to the usage of existing land, additional land will be rarely purchased. Additional land purchase is required, but train speed will be increased. Additional land purchase is required, but train speed will be increased.
Social/Resettlement Land acquisition & Resettlement is mostly required within ROW and the need for private land acquisition is minimal. Land acquisition & Resettlement will be greater than Option 1 outside the ROW and some private land needs to be acquired. Land acquisition & Resettlement will be greater as land use within ROW is less than the other 2 options.
Environment lowest impact moderate impact highest impact

The reader is requested to compare above information (a summary) with the specific factors considered in the KV Line Design. It can be observed that, the leaset cost solution for Horizontal Aignment is, Option – 1 which provide reasonable trave time avantage to the passenger.

Solution for Vertical Alignment

Four solution options were considered for the section from Maradana to Makumbura (20 km) by comparing advantages and disadvantages such as frequency of train, construction cost, environmental and social aspect, etc. and the most proper Vertical Alignment was decided.

  • Option 1 : Elevated line

    option comparison

  • Option 2 : Underground line

    option comparison

  • Option 3 : Elevated + Underground line

    option comparison

  • Option 4 : Elevated + Underground line + At grade line

    option comparison

The Open-cut Underground option was considered maily to avoid disturbance to Colombo Golf Club. However, the Golf Club Officials studied the situation and considered the national ineterest too and agreed for the Elevated Railway Option (Option 1).

The evaluation of options including comparison of expenditure is shown in the following table. The estimated costs for major components have been cosidered in the comparison. However, the Engineer’s Estimates of the KV Line design is now available. Please see the ‘Note’ given below.

option comparison

The reader is requested to compare above information (a summary) with the specific factors (listed above) considered in the KV Line Design. It can be observed that, the leaset cost solution for Vertical Alignmant is, Option – 1 which provide solutions to specific issues of KV Line (listed above).

The above table indicates estimated costs calculated during Feasibility Study of KV Line. Later, the Golf Club Officials agreed for an elevated (not underground) railway in the Golf Club Ground area and hence, the detailed design was done accordingly. The Detailed Designs including Engineer’s Estimate have now been completely prepared and the cost of Option – 1 for section from Maradana to Makumbura is USD 662.8 Million.

The detailed cost estimate of Option I (Elevated double line Railway from Colombo to Makumbura) has been published in Final Feasibility Study Report (can be downloaded from this web site) page 15-45.

In addition, the cost estimate for an at grade railway option with flyovers (21 flyovers up to Makumbura) has been prepared. Furthermore the cost estimate for an “at grade” option with level crossing protection systems for all the level crossings from Colombo to Makumbura too has been prepared.

In evaluating this option, the cost of fuel wastage due to accumulation of road vehicles at level crossing, man-hour wastage at level crossings and cost of accidents at level crossings to be considered. These estimates have been prepared for evaluation purposes and both estimates are higher than elevate railway option.