Main Line Development

The Main Line of Sri Lanka Railways is 290.5 km from Colombo (Maradana) to Badulla and is the backbone of the railway network in Sri Lanka. Other lines deviate from Main Line, the Puttlam Line at Ragama (14km), Northern Line at Polgahawela (72km) and Matale Line at Peradeniya (113km).

Rambukkana , which is considered as the end station of Colombo Suburban Area in the Main Line, is 83 km away from Maradana and is the end station of the double line section too. The 14 km section from Maradana to Ragama is having three tracks and the rest of the section upto Rambukkana is double track. The average daily ridership of Main Line is approximately 100.000 with majority of the suburban trains, serving morning peak period, starting from Rambukkana. The daily ridership in the section from Maradana to Ragama is approximately 145,000.

The railway line runs parallel to Kandy Road but, through a different corridor towards West of it and serves 40% of the total passengers in the Kandy corridor to Colombo. The Main Line railway runs along and through urban ceters such as Ragama, Gampaha, Veyangoda, Mirigama, Alawwa,Polgahawela and Rambukkana. The most popular Long Distance express trains from Matale, Kandy and Badulla are served through Main Line. At present, the number of trains reaching Colombo through Main Line in the Morning Peak includes, 12 Colombo Commuter Trains and 3 Long Distance Express Trains.

The improvement of railway in Sri Lanka can ease the traffic congestion, increase transport capacity, enhance the passenger convenience, serve better population distribution, gain commercial market share, and finally assist uniform economic development which will increase the GDP of Sri Lanka.

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Main Line

Demand for KV Railway Line - Study Results

Year Number of Passengers to carry Number of Trains operated
Daily Volume Volume in Peak Hour peak direction Daily Number of Trains Trains in Peak Hour peak Direction Headway (time between trains)
2018 170,000 18,000 74 per direction 12 5 Mts
2025 – After Development 410,000 43,000 215 per direction 17 3.5 Mts
2035 – After Development 500,000 52,000 256 per direction 20 3.0 Mts

Main Line Railway Alignment

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Issues in Main Line

When considering about Kelani Valley Line Development, we observed that there are about 08 specific issues which are not found in other Railway Lines in Sri Lanka. In Main Line development, such specific issues are not observed. However, the attention was paid to the undermentioned issues which are common to the other railway lines too.

  1. The Railway RoW is encroached : There are approximately a total of 749 relocations in Railway RoW from Maradana to Rambukkana, and the distribution is as follows. Maradana to Ragama: 446, Ragama to Veyangoda :254 and Veyangoda to Rambukkana 49.
  2. Curves in the existing railway line: Maradana to Rambukkana section consists of 101 curves, out of which 32 locations are with curves less than 620 m radius. The curve ratio of Maradna – Rambukkana section is about 49% (40 km), out of section length of 83 km. The minimum curve radius for design speeds of 100 kmph and 120 kmph are 620 m and 900 m respectively.
  3. Intersections and Parallel sections of Central Expressway: As per the Central Expressway Designs of Road Development Authority, there are 03 intersections and 01 parallel sections between Main Railway Line and Central Expressway. Discussions have been held and final conceptual designs have been done.
    1. Railway – Expressway grade separated crossings at Yagoda (22km640), between Bemmulla and Magalegoda (31km 720) and Indiparape (46 km 300)
    2. Parallel embankment of Expressway and Railway from Gampaha to Bemmulla (26km 740 – 29km 820)
    3. Expressway Gampaha Interchange
  4. Removal of Level Crossing at Hunupitiya : Kiribathgoda – Waththala Road at Hunupitiya Level Crossing is very congested, mainly due to railway operation. With development, train operation will be very frequent (3 minute headway) and hence a flyover is the only solution. But, the construction of a flyover has become very difficult because of the elevated Airport Expressway with only 5.5 meters of elevation. When this was discussed with Road Development Authority, the responsibility of designing the flyover was undertaken by RDA.
  5. Level Crossings : Considering the frequency of train operation for train speed of 120 kmph, it is desirable to eliminate level crossings where rail and road are at same level. Underpass or overpass (flyover) with road deviations can be considered. Private and rarely used level crossings which are unprotected will be closed and traffic will be diverted towards the nearest Flyover/underpass/ level crossing. There are 37 numbers of level crossings from Maradana to Veyangoda and 42 level crossings from Veyangoda to Rambukkana.

Main Line Railway Development Design

When considering the above issues and the passenger demand for Main Line in 2035, design of Main Line Railway was done based on two studies which were conducted during recent years under the CSR Project.

  1. The Pre-Feasibility Study conducted by M/s. Egis International of France
  2. Main Line Feasibility Study conducted by M/s. Dohwa Engineering JV of Korea : 03 alternatives for the Horizontal Alignment and 01 alternative (at grade solution) for Vertical Alignment have been considered in this study

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

  1. Pre-Feasibility study report
  2. Main Line Final Feasibility study report

The other Design Reports related to Main Line have not been released yet.

Factors considered in selecting the solutions for the Main Line

  1. Implement the project in three phases, Maradana to Ragama, Ragama to Veyangoda and Veyangoda to Rambukkana
  2. Maradana to Ragama section is constructed as 04 tracks, Ragama to Veyangoda as 03 tracks and and Veyangoda to Rambukkana as 02 tracks (existing 02 tracks will be rehabilitated. This is to cater demand by 2035.
  3. All stations must have mutimodal 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





    Flyover & Underpass

    Maradana to Veyangoda

    29 nos




    Veyangoda to Rambukkana

    43 nos





    72 nos

    34 nos

    9 nos

    29 nos

  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. As per the CSRP design, Land Acquisition in
    Maradana – Ragama Section : No acquisition
    Ragama – Veyangoda Section : 1013 perches
    Veyangoda – Rambukana Section : 1040 perches
  8. Relocations to be done as per National Involuntary Resettlement Policy (NIRP) and ADB Safeguard Policy Approximately a total of 749 relocations in Railway RoW from Maradana to Rambukkana, and the distribution is, Maradana to Ragama: 446, Ragama to Veyangoda :254 and Veyangoda to Rambukkana 49. The exact number of families to be relocated will be decided after demarcating the Construction Boundaries (design has already been prepared) and then the Relocation Action Plan will be prepared. The families which will be relocated will be well compansated as per National Relocation Action Plan (NIRP) and ADB Social Safeguard Policy. Few Housing Schemes will be designed along with Urban Development Authority for this purpose.
  9. Environmental issues such as Niose and Vibration need to be mitigated
  10. Cost of the construction must be minimised – this is to select the solution with minimum cost

Solution for Horizontal Alignment

Three Options were considered for the analysis,

Option 1 The alignment is planned for Design Speed of 100 km/h and the curves are straightened within the existing ROW as much as possible to improve the commercial speed. This option will minimize additional land acquisition.
Option 2 The alignment is planned with the Design Speed of 120 km/h and the curves are straightened to have minimum radius of curves of 900 m. This option makes the alignment laid out of the existing ROW at certain sections. This will cause considerable land acquisition.
Option 3 The alignment is planned with the Design Speed of 150 km/h and the curves are straightened to have minimum radius of curves of 1400 m. This option makes the alignment laid out of the existing ROW at many sections. This option was not considered  because of the extensive land acquisition.
Comparison of options and selecting the optimum solution

The minimum curve radius for design speed of 100 kmph and 120 kmph are 620 m and 900 m respectively. Possible alternatives for improvement of existing alignment have been studied for curves of less than 620 m radius. The alignment improvements for straightening curves were accommodated within existing ROW. Limited right of reservations and highly urbanized areas were considered separately and existing alignment curve improvements are made not to exceed the ROW reservations.

The design speed is decided by several factors such as local characteristics, social resettlement and environmental impacts. Therefore, maximum design speed of 120 km/h is considered which is applicable for local conditions. For curves of less than 900 m radius, speed will be reduced accordingly as per prevailing site conditions. The commercial speed is decided by number of stations, safety features to be followed, dwelling time etc.

Classificationds Main Line Coastal Line Puttalam Line
Length 36.2km 47.769km 27.44km 15.768km 12.66km 11.147km
Number of Curves 37 nos. 64 nos. 58 nos. 27nos. 20 nos. 9 nos
Maximum Gradient 0.8% 1% 0.7% 0.7% 0.9% 0.4%
Stations 19 18 16 5 9 5
Earthwork 35.4km 47.209km 26.94km 15.218km 12.515km 11.147km
Bridge 0.8km 0.4km 0.5km 0.55km 0.145km 0.0km
Tunnel -No - 0.16km -No - -No - -No - -No -

For some of the curve improvements such as at Bulugahagoda (450m to 620m), Ganemulla-Yagoda (410m to 629m) and at Wilwatte (400m to 620m), land acquisition of abandoned paddy lands will be done.

Solution for Vertical Alignment

Two options were considered,

  1. At grade from Maradana to Rambukkana
  2. Three kilimeter section from Wanawasala to Hunupitiya (06 km to 09 km) , elevated and rest of the setion ‘at grade’.

Resons for considering option – 2 are,
(1). Kiribathgoda – Waththala Road at Hunupitiya Level Crossing is very congested mainly due to railway operation. With development, train operation will be very frequent (3 minute headway) and hence a flyover is the only solution for the level crossing. But, the construction of a flyover has become very difficult because of the elevated expressway with 5.5 meters elevation, at 10m away from Level Crossing.
(2). To avoid demolition of temple at Wanawasa (3). To allow trains carrying Solid Waste to pass the Main Line Railway, without disturbing train operation,
(4). To avoid demolition of many houses at Wanawasala and related compensation payments and
(5). Hunupitiya station will, anyway, be a two level station to have LRT (RED Line) connection.

However, when the level crossing issue was discussed with Road Development Authority (Design Office), the responsibility of designing the flyover was undertaken by RDA. Therefore, Option – 1 was considered as the solution for Vertical Alignment for Main Line.

Train Operation

Train Operation Plan has been prepared to have an efficient and safe train operation. Furthermore, the undermentioned conceptual options were viewed and considered in the operation plan.

  1. The outcome of Demand Modeling and passenger demand for railway (Main Line, Puttlam Line, Northern Line and Coastal Line) by 2025 and 2035
  2. Avoid congestion and train delays, caused by terminating all train operations at Maradana and Colombo Fort station areas
  3. It is assumed that Main Line and Coastal Line developments will be completed simultaneously. But, if Coastal Line project would be delayed, SLR may implement an alternative Operation Plan as an initial step.
  4. Situation when electrification would be implemented upto Veyangoda first and then extended to Rambukkana.
  5. The composition and capacity of Electric Multiple Units (EMUs)
  6. Utilising full facility of track capacity (availability of 04 or 03 lines)
  7. Operation of EMUs and DMUs simultaneously along same section of tracks.
  8. Simultaneous operation of Express, Limited Stop, All Stop and Freight trains
  9. Future expansion of services

Track Availability for operation

Section No. of tracks
Existing Future
Maradana- Ragama 3 4
Ragama-Veyangoda 2 3
Veyangoda-Rambukkana 2 02 (Rehabilitation)

Journey Time and Commercial Speed : This is given in the following table. The DMU Travel Time and Speed in the current operation are given in brackets.

Section All-stop EMU trains Express EMU trains
Journey Time (minutes) Timetabled Speed (km/h) Journey Time (minutes) Timetabled Speed (km/h)
Colombo Fort – Rambukkana 98 51.6 68 74.4
-141 -36 -94 -53.8
Colombo Fort – Veyangoda 47 47.6 32 69.9
-69 -32.4 -45 -49.7
Colombo Fort – Panadura 34 46.5 23 68.7
-53 -29.8 -37 -42.6
Colombo Fort – Kalutara South 50 50.3 34 74
-79 -32 -58 -43.4
Ragama – Negombo 31 46.1 - -
-48 -29.3

The Scheduled Journey Time is based on three factors, Technical Journey Time (usually obtained through simulations) between stations, Regulation (Recovery) Time and Dwelling (Stopping time at stations) time.

The journey time will be recalculated after completion of the design for track alignments and the track layouts of stations. However, the journey time applied to the EMU services shall be decided finally, along with the full system commissioning after completion of construction, because the permissible speed indicated by the signalling system and the ergonomics of train drivers should be taken into consideration.

Train Operation to cater the Passenger Demand in Peak Hour in Peak Direction and to solve congestion in Colombo Fort and Maradana areas

Trainset Types Origin – Destination Section 2025 2035
For Peak periods For Off-peak periods For Peak periods For Off-peak periods
EMU Services Mt. Lavinia – Rambukkana 5 3 5 3
Panadura – Gampaha 5 3 6 3
Mt. Lavinia – Seeduwa 2 2 4 3
Kalutara South – Negombo 5 2 5 3
Sub-Total EMU Services 17 10 20 12
Average Operating Headway between Colombo Fort – Ragama 3.5 min. 6 min. 3 min. 5 min.
DMU Services Rambukkana – Colombo Fort 2 1 2 1
Negombo – Colombo Fort 1 1 1 1
Kalutara South – Maradana 2 1 2 1
Sub-Total DMU Services 5 3 5 3
Average Operating Headway between Colombo Fort – Ragama 20 min. 30 min. 20 min. 30 min.

In order to avoid seriously congested rail traffic in Colombo Fort and Maradana, the direct operation of EMU services between Main, Puttalam and Coastal Lines have been considered. This is called loop operation between railway lines. This will help us to cater Passenger Demand in Main Line and in Coastal Line with limited number of Rolling Stock. The number of train services during peak periods in peak direction has been planned as shown below.

Train Operation Plan with Track Utilisation and Loop Operation between Railway Lines :

option comparison