The first phase of Sri Lanka’s northern railway project — funded by a line of credit facilitated by the Indian government — was commissioned on Friday.

Coaches in bright red chugged along from Medawachchiya in Anuradhapura, the North Central Province, to Madhu Road, marking the return of a crucial transportation link that was shattered during the war.

Tracks along the 43 km-stretch were reconstructed as part of the $ 800 million-project, being executed by the Indian Railway Ministry’s IRCON International Limited to restore the 252 km-railway line that would connect different parts of the country.

Commissioning the service, Sri Lanka’s Minister for Economic Development, Basil Rajapaksa said India had been with Sri Lanka at every stage of rehabilitation and reconstruction of north Sri Lanka.

High Commissioner of India Ashok K. Kantha and senior government officials of the Sri Lanka government were present at the ceremony.