COLOMBO, March 12 (Xinhua) -- The Sri Lankan government has decided to launch a Light Rail Transit (LRT) system connecting capital Colombo to the suburb of Malabe, in order to ease the severe traffic congestion in the capital, local media reported Tuesday.
According to the Finance Ministry, the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) has agreed to provide a concessionary loan of an estimated 268 million U.S. dollars for the project.
The loan will finance the project which will be Sri Lanka's first rail-based, electrified urban mass rapid transit line. The project will reduce travel time between Colombo and Malabe to 30 minutes from the present one and a half hours.
The Colombo to Malabe Light Rail Transit has a total length of approximately 16 km, with 16 stations.
The LRT line will be built through the congested areas of Battaramulla, Rajagiriya, Cotta Road Railway Station and National Hospital, up to the current Fort Railway Station.
Local media reports said the entire rail track and stations will be on elevated viaducts to minimize requirement of land acquisition.
At peak travel time in the morning and evening, trains are planned to run every two to three minutes.
The project is scheduled to commence this year.