President Mahinda Rajapaksa on Saturday launched the Yal Devi, connecting Colombo to Kilinochchi, reviving an old rail link after a gap of 23 years.

The railway line from Medawachchi in Sri Lanka’s North Central Province to Kankasanthurai in the country’s northern tip was commissioned on September 10, 1905.

Gradually, the line grew to become a crucial link — virtually a backbone running across the country — connecting the south and north. However, during the war, the rail network was shattered and the train service ceased operations after June 13, 1990, according to local reports.

After the three-decade-long war ended the Sri Lankan government began rebuilding the line, and resumed operations from Vavuniya to Thandikulam on June 7, 2009 and then extended its run to Omanthai on May 29, 2011, news agency Adaderana reported.

This is one of the two key railway line projects in Sri Lanka — the other, from Medawachchiya to Talaimannar — that India is helping rebuild, with a soft line of credit amounting to Rs.4,000 crore. Indian Railway Construction Company Limited (Ircon) is the key contractor of the project. The remaing stretch of the line up to Kankasanthurai is expected to be completed by the end of 2014.