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Rail Travels

The pearl of the Indian Ocean known as Sri Lanka is famed for having bountiful scenery stretching from the coastal belt up to the hill country. One sure fire way to experience that exquisite, diverse scenery is through the simple, yet reliable rail service.

Be it a coastal train ride, or an uphill tea country train ride, the ‘scenic’ in scenic train ride in Sri Lanka will always be fulfilled by the many networks of railway lines established since 1864 by the British colonists and the Sri Lankan government.

With the introduction of private trains, such as the Viceroy Special and the Rajadhani Express, as recent as 2011, your train journeys will always be accompanied with premium services in addition to the majestic landscapes outside the windows of your carriage.

Interesting Facts

  • The Sri Lankan railway system has its beginnings in 1864, when the British colonists needed a way of transporting the valuable cash crops of tea and coffee from the hill country estates to the coastal belts for exporting.
  • These lines have not changed since and can be seen vividly when going through lush green tea estates and amazing coastal belt, notably with the Colombo to Badulla, Colombo to Matara, Colombo to Trincomalee, Colombo to Jaffna and Colombo to Avissawella trains to name a few.
  • The Sri Lankan railway network is one of the only institutions in the country that cannot be privatized by law, unless the governing authority allows it, hence the reason for such little privatization.

Times, Seasons and Tips

  • Trains can be ridden all throughout the year and train schedules are subject to government timings.
  • There are three classes to choose from in most trains, generally, a first class ticket to anywhere would cost just above LKR 1,000.
  • First class carriages, if available, are often equipped with all the necessary facilities for a comfortable ride, such as Wi-Fi, air conditioning, and meals.
  • The railway timetable is quite hard to grasp at first, but you can experience hassle free travelling by researching more about the particular train you are planning on taking, especially the facilities it provides, the cost etc.
  • If planning on boarding a second or third class carriage, make sure you travel light and keep your belongings close to you, as these carriages can get quite crowded, which can result in loss of belongings if not careful.

In conclusion, indulge in breathtaking views the paradise island has to offer, while chugging along century old railway networks that have been maintained for your pleasure. Your train journey will definitely be a memorable one.

Title image by: Roshie Kahandawela

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