Cheered by tens of thousands of people, a train decorated with banana trees and colorful flower garlands has arrived in Sri Lanka's northern Tamil heartland, 24 years after the "Queen of Jaffna" was suspended due to civil war.

President Mahinda Rajapaksa bought a ticket and boarded the train for the last 43 kilometers of the journey Monday and opened several railroad stations along the way.

"Yarl Devi," as it is known in Tamil, was once a popular mode of transport between the ethnic Tamil-majority north and the Sinhala-majority south but was scaled back in 1990 because of the heightening of the civil war between the government and the Tamil Tiger rebels.

The civil war that raged since 1983 ended in 2009 when Sri Lankan troops crushed the rebels.