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Train Resumes Operation in Former Sri Lankan War Zone

  • VOA News

Sri Lankan ethnic Tamils gather on platforms and welcome the train "Queen of Jaffna," as it arrives at Jaffna, Oct. 13, 2014.

Sri Lankan ethnic Tamils gather on platforms and welcome the train "Queen of Jaffna," as it arrives at Jaffna, Oct. 13, 2014.

After almost a quarter of a century suspension due to civil war, a train is back in service in Sri Lanka.

The rail line reopened Monday to connect the capital, Colombo, with the city of Jaffna, in the northern Tamil heartland. Thousands of people cheered the decorated train upon its arrival at each station and rushed to take photographs with it.

President Mahinda Rajapaksa, government ministers, and military commanders boarded the train for the last 43 kilometers of the journey and opened several trains stations along the way.

The so-called `Queen of Jaffna,'' once the most convenient way to travel between the ethnic Tamil-majority north and the Sinhala-majority south, resumed operation after a two-year reconstruction project with an $800 million loan from India.

The railway was also a main route in Sri Lanka's commerce, transporting fish from the north to the capital and connecting those two ethnic communities.

The train stopped operating in 1990, after it came under attack by the Tamil rebels who were fighting for a separate homeland. Subsequently, the railway and Jaffna station were severely damaged during the war between Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam and the government forces.

Some information for this report was provided by AP and AFP.

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