World

'Queen of Jaffna' train arrives in former Sri Lankan war zone 24 years after suspension

  • Sri Lankan police officers stand on a rail platform as an ethnic Tamil passenger walks past at a railway station in Vavuniya, Sri Lanka, Sunday, Oct. 12, 2014. The "Queen of Jaffna," a once-popular train linking the ethnic Tamil's northern heartland to the rest of Sri Lanka before a bloody civil war cut the link 24 years ago, chugs back into service this coming week, reinforcing the government's authority in a region once controlled by Tamil rebels.(AP Photo/Eranga Jayawardena)

    Sri Lankan police officers stand on a rail platform as an ethnic Tamil passenger walks past at a railway station in Vavuniya, Sri Lanka, Sunday, Oct. 12, 2014. The "Queen of Jaffna," a once-popular train linking the ethnic Tamil's northern heartland to the rest of Sri Lanka before a bloody civil war cut the link 24 years ago, chugs back into service this coming week, reinforcing the government's authority in a region once controlled by Tamil rebels.(AP Photo/Eranga Jayawardena)  (The Associated Press)

  • An elderly Sri Lankan ethnic Tamil woman is helped by a man as they walk along a platform at the Jaffna railway station in Sri Lanka, Sunday, Oct. 12, 2014. The "Queen of Jaffna," a once-popular train linking the ethnic Tamil's northern heartland to the rest of Sri Lanka before a bloody civil war cut the link 24 years ago, chugs back into service this coming week, reinforcing the government's authority in a region once controlled by Tamil rebels.(AP Photo/Eranga Jayawardena)

    An elderly Sri Lankan ethnic Tamil woman is helped by a man as they walk along a platform at the Jaffna railway station in Sri Lanka, Sunday, Oct. 12, 2014. The "Queen of Jaffna," a once-popular train linking the ethnic Tamil's northern heartland to the rest of Sri Lanka before a bloody civil war cut the link 24 years ago, chugs back into service this coming week, reinforcing the government's authority in a region once controlled by Tamil rebels.(AP Photo/Eranga Jayawardena)  (The Associated Press)

  • Sri Lankan ethnic Tamil workers react to the camera as they rest on a rail track at the Jaffna railway station Sri Lanka, Sunday, Oct. 12, 2014. The "Queen of Jaffna," a once-popular train linking the ethnic Tamil's northern heartland to the rest of Sri Lanka before a bloody civil war cut the link 24 years ago, chugs back into service this coming week, reinforcing the government's authority in a region once controlled by Tamil rebels.(AP Photo/Eranga Jayawardena)

    Sri Lankan ethnic Tamil workers react to the camera as they rest on a rail track at the Jaffna railway station Sri Lanka, Sunday, Oct. 12, 2014. The "Queen of Jaffna," a once-popular train linking the ethnic Tamil's northern heartland to the rest of Sri Lanka before a bloody civil war cut the link 24 years ago, chugs back into service this coming week, reinforcing the government's authority in a region once controlled by Tamil rebels.(AP Photo/Eranga Jayawardena)  (The Associated Press)

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.