Mannar Line

Mannar Line
Type Regional rail
System Sri Lanka Railways
Status Open
Termini Medawachchiya Junction
Stations 11
Opened 1914
Reopened Medawachchiya Junction to Madu On 14 May 2013[1]
Up to Talaimannar in April 2015[1]
Owner Sri Lanka Railways
Operator(s) Sri Lanka Railways
Line length 106[1] km (66 mi)
Number of tracks 1
Track gauge 1,676 mm (5 ft 6 in)
Electrification No
Operating speed 120[2] km/h (75 mph)
Route map

Mannar Line

Gulf of Mannar
Madhu Road
Northern Line to Kankesanthurai
Medawachchiya Junction
Northern Line to Colombo Fort

The Mannar Line is a railway line in Sri Lanka. Branching off the Northern Line at Medawachchiya Junction, the line heads north-west through North Central and Northern provinces before terminating at the town of Talaimannar. The line is 106 kilometres (66 mi) long and has 11 stations.[3] The line opened in 1914.[4]


International goal

The Mannar Line was built as part of a plan to create a rail link between Sri Lanka and India. A 22-mile bridge to link the two countries had been proposed as early as 1894, by the Consultant Engineer for railways in Madras (Chennai). The proposal was given serious consideration and a technical blueprint and cost analysis was conducted. By 1914, the Mannar line was built to connect Talaimannar on Mannar Island to the Sri Lankan mainland. On the Indian side, the Indian railway network was extended to Dhanushkodi. The international bridge to link the two was not built.[5]


During the Mannar Line's operation, trains connected Mannar and Talaimannar with cities along the Northern Line, such as Anuradhapura and Kurunegala, eventually reaching Colombo. The Boat Mail was a major service on the line, allowing passengers to board a ferry to Rameshwaram in India. Passengers could use the Boat Mail service to travel between Colombo and Chennai.

The ferry service to connect the railheads at Talaimannar and Dhanushkodi lasted until the 1960s, when a cyclone destroyed the pier and rail line at Dhanushkodi. The Mannar Line was not affected. The ferry service resumed with a new Indian terminus at Rameshwaram.[5]

War and revival

All services on the line were stopped in June 1990 due to the civil war.[6] The tracks, stations and other infrastructure on the line were subsequently destroyed during the war.

In the 2000s, the rail bridge to connect the two countries was proposed again, highlighting the benefits of connecting the ports of Colombo and Trincomalee with Chennai.[5]

Following the end of the civil war in May 2009, the government initiated various projects to rebuild the entire line. The contract to reconstruct the 44 kilometres (27 mi) line between Medawachchiya Junction and Madhu was awarded to IRCON International, the Indian state-owned engineering and construction company.[7][8] The project will cost US$ 81 million and would be financed by a soft loan from the Indian government.[9] IRCON has also been awarded the contract to reconstruct the 65 kilometres (40 mi) line between Madhu and Talaimannar.[7][8] The project will cost US$ 150 million and would be financed by a soft loan from the Indian government.[9]

The section of the line between Medawachchiya and Madhu Road reopened on 14 May 2013, following its reconstruction.[10] The reconstruction of the entire line is completed in 2015.

Completion and Reopening

The entire line was completed up to Talaimannar on 2015. The Indian Railway Construction Company Limited (IRCON) carried out the construction work of both stages of the project which was financed under a US$425 million credit facility from India. The reconstructed railway line was commissioned by Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi on March 14, 2015.[11]

Opening was accompanied by Sri Lankan President Maithripala Sirisena and ministers Lakshman Kiriella and Rishard Badurdeen.[1]


Railbus services operate from Medawachchiya Junction to Madhu Road,[12] while daily trains operate between Madhu Road and Colombo Fort.[13]

Four train services are operating between Colombo Fort and the Talaimannr Pier daily.


The Mannar Line is entirely single track, at 5 ft 6 in (1,676 mm) broad gauge,[14] both before the war and after reconstruction. The line was not electrified and the current reconstruction project will not include electrification.


  1. 1 2 3 4 "Indian PM flags off Talaimannar train service". Ministry of Defence. Retrieved 16 June 2015.
  2. "Northern Railway - A Milestone in Sri Lanka, India Partnership". Retrieved 16 June 2015.
  3. "Statistics - Sri Lanka Railways". Ministry of Transport, Sri Lanka.
  4. "The Rail Routes of Sri Lanka".
  5. 1 2 3 The Indo-Lanka Land bridge: Reviving the Proposal
  6. "Rail track to Mannar". Sunday Observer, Sri Lanka. 12 July 2009.
  7. 1 2 "Pallai-Kankesanthurai rail track to be restored with Indian aid". Sunday Times (Sri Lanka). 20 November 2011.
  8. 1 2 Kannangara, Nirmala (13 November 2011). "Work On New Track Soon". The Sunday Leader.
  9. 1 2 Wijewardena, Don Asoka (18 August 2010). "Medawachchiya-Talaimannar railway line construction agreement signed". The Island, Sri Lanka.
  10. "Medawachchiya—Madhu rail service commissions". DailyFT. 14 May 2013. Retrieved 1 June 2013.
  11. Range, Irangika. "Colombo-Talaimannar train services resume today after 24 years". Daily News. Retrieved 16 June 2015.
  12. Nanayakara, Prasadini; Wickramasinghe, Damith (August 2013). "'Train Bus' to Madhu". Retrieved 18 August 2013.
  13. "Colombo - Madhu train service resumes today". Ministry of Defense and Urban Development, Government of Sri Lanka. 12 August 2013.
  14. "The Island". Rampala regime in the local Railway History. 2010-07-19.
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