Sri Lanka's first metro express electric train service would be ready by 2016 at an estimated US$600 million cost taking just 25 minutes to travel from Colombo Fort to the Bandaranaike International Airport.
This would essentially become the first rapid transit metro system to be launched in Sri Lanka, initially running between the airport and Colombo.
Airport Express Air and Rail Company Pvt. Ltd, will be operating this rail service with construction costs set at US$600 million, the company's Malaysian chairman Dr. Parimalan Michael told a media briefing held in Colombo last week.
Construction work is expected to commence early next year once the feasibility study has been obtained and approvals granted from the Board of Investment (BOI).
The project would be a private-owned company that would be on equity with stocks sold to overseas companies willing to set up hotels and provide other facilities at this iconic metro rail service, he said.
KPMG Mumbai, India has been selected to carry out the feasibility study on the project while the technical study would be carried out by Louis Berger, a US- based company, Dr. Michael said.
The cost of travel would be Rs.500 for a one-way trip for locals and US$50 for foreigners, he said.
This new train service would generate over 2000 jobs for a train that would have a capacity to hold 400 passengers and conduct nine journeys per day.
He also noted that they would provide the required training for locals to be engaged in the running of the train including driving it.
This iconic project is said to provide safety, comfort and ease of travel coming into the city within 25 minutes.
He noted that based on the projected surge in tourist arrivals it is likely to create a bigger demand for these services.
This service would be constructed for a length of 30 km along the new expressway as well and running at over 100 miles per hour, he said.
This rapid transit system popular worldwide would provide high capacity public transport characterised by high speed and rapid acceleration.
The proposed railway route would ply along the airport road, then cross the Negombo main highway and the Negombo lagoon and connect to the new Katunayaka Expressway. It would then run parallel to the main expressway along its 30 m reservation area for a distance of 30 km until Wattala town. At this point it would cross the Negombo main road and from the Hunupitiya railway station travel alongside the existing railway line until it crosses the Kelaniya river. From here the railway track would ply on a modern bridge until it reaches its final destination, the Fort Lotus terminal (at D.R. Wijewardene Mawatha).
The lotus terminal site would comprise of an architecturally modern and versatile 32-storey tower, which would function as a city centre for local or foreign businessmen wanting to spend a few days in the capital.
This tower would consist of a hyper mall, multiplex cinema, casino, a spiral viewing tower, city hotel, a conference and convention centre, food courts, bowling alley, game arcades and a health centre with spas, salons, saunas and massage centres and its very own Ayurvedic garden.
Sky bridges or under water tunnels would link the terminal tower to the Fort railway station, the main bus terminals and the two main roadways leading to the Fort.
In addition, plans are drawn up to provide short stay tourists with a shuttle bus service commencing from the New Railway Terminal. Dr. Michael also said that they have plans to go beyond the Colombo-Katunayaka link and develop on this concept with an extension to Maradana and Gampaha.