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Sri Lanka train tours or train travel, while slower is more comfortable. The trains are the most cheapest, safe and enjoyable traveling method in Sri Lanka. From the Colombo Fort which is the central railway station travelers can take their trains to different destinations. You can take trains to most of the important places in the Sri Lanka.

History of the Sri Lanka Railway
Sri Lanka Railways, or Ceylon Government Railway, was conceived in the 1850’s as an instrument to develop and unify the country. The 1st sod of the Sri Lanka Railways was cut by Sir Henry Ward, the Governor, in August in1858. The Railway Network was introduced by the British in 1864 and 1st train ran on 27th December 1864, with the construction of the Main Line from Colombo to Ambepussa, 54 kilometers to the east. This line was officially opened for traffic on 02nd October 1865. The Railway extended and developed it’s network and in 1927, a total route length of 1530 km was in operation. The Main Line was extended in stages, with service to Kandy in 1867, to Nawalapitiya in 1874, to Nanu-Oya in 1885, to Bandarawela in 1894, and to Badulla in 1924. Other lines were completed in due course to link the other parts of the country, the Matale Line in 1880, the Coast Line in 1895, the Northern Line in 1905, the Mannar Line in 1914, the Kelani Valley Line in 1919, the Puttalam Line in 1926, and the Batticaloa and Trincomalee Lines in 1928.

The Railway was initially built to transport coffee and tea from the hill country to Colombo for export and was for many years, the main source of income. With population growth, however, passenger traffic increased and in the 1960’s overtook freight as the main source of business. The Railway is now primarily engaged in the transport of passengers, especially commuters to and from Colombo, offering a vital service and reducing road congestion.

Train names in Sri Lanka
A number of long distance trains were named by CGR (Ceylon Government Railway).
Regular Services:
• Udarata Menike (Upcountry Maiden) – Runs between Colombo Fort and Badulla
• Podi Menike (Little Maiden) – Connects Colombo Fort and Badulla (no longer runs via Kandy, only through coaches to Kandy)
• Tikiri Menike (Little Maiden) – Colombo Fort to Hatton
• Senkadagala Menike (Maiden of “Senkadagala”– area name) – Runs between Colombo Fort and Kandy
• Yal Devi (Princess/Queen of Jaffna) – Was operated between Colombo Fort and Kankasanthurei via Jaffna (now only up to Thandikulam)
• Udaya Devi (Princess/Queen of the Rise -East) – Runs between Colombo Fort and Batticaloa
• Rajarata Rajina (Queen of the land of kings) – Runs between Vavuniya and Matara via Colombo Fort
• Ruhunu Kumari (Princess of “Ruhuna” – southern province) – Between Colombo (Maradana) and Matara
• Samudra Devi (Queen of the Oceans) – Colombo (Maradana) to Galle
• Galu Kumari (Princess of Galle) – Colombo (Maradana) to Matara
• Sagarika (Name of Ocean in Sinhala Language) – Colombo (Maradana) to Galle
• Muthu Kumari (Princess of Pearls) – Operates between Panadura and Chilaw

Special Trains in Sri Lanka:
• Viceroy Special – Colombo to Badulla (Tourist train powered by steam)
• Bradby Express – Colombo to Kandy (for the Kandy leg of the annual Bradby Shield Encounter)

Trains have several classes :
» 1st class sleeper: 1st class sleeping-berths are available on a few overnight trains.

» 1st class observation car: Available on the best daytime trains on the scenic route from Colombo to Kandy and Badulla. The observation car is normally at the rear of the train (or sometimes behind the locomotive) and has comfortable armchairs facing a large window looking back along the track. Seats must be reserved before departure. The 1st class observation car is highly recommended.

» 1st class air-conditioned seats car: Only available on one or two trains.

» 2nd class seats: Available on all trains. These come in several versions, depending on the train:
(1) Unreserved seats, where you buy a ticket, hop on and sit in any available seat,
(2) Reserved seats where you must make a reservation and you get an allocated seat,
(3) Reserved ‘sleeperette’ reclining seats which are available on most overnight trains. 2nd class seats are the recommended option on trains with no 1st class.

» 3rd class seats: Available on most of the trains. These come in several versions, depending on the train: unreserved seats, reserved seats, and reserved ‘sleeperette’ reclining seats. 3rd class is very basic and gets very crowded, and it is not generally recommended for visitors.

Train Tour Routes in Sri Lanka
1. Train Tour Routes in Sri Lanka – Main Line – Colombo to Badulla

The railway network, which began operating in 1864, comprises nine lines radiating from Colombo, the most beautiful of which runs deep into the hills, traveling via Kandy and Nuwara Eliya before terminating in Badulla. This journey offers spectacular hill-country views as the train winds its way past gushing waterfalls and through neatly-clipped tea estates.

Station NameDistance (Mile)
From Colombo Fort
Kelaniya3
Hunupitiya5
Ragama9
Gampaha16
Meerigama30
Ambepussa34
Alawwa40
Polgahawela45
Rambukkana52
Kadugannawa65
Peradiniya (Junction)70
Kandy73
Gampola78
Ulapane82
Nawalapitiya87
Galaboda94
Watawala100
Rosella103
Hatton108
Kotagala111
Thalawakele115
Watagoda120
Nanu Oya128
Ambewela137
Pattipola139
Ohiya143
Idalgashinna
Haputale153
Diyatalawa156
Bandarawela160
Ella168
Demodara171
Hali – Ela177
Badulla181

2. Train Tour Routes in Sri Lanka – Matale Line from Peradeniya junction to Kandy and Matale

The Matale Line branches off the Main Line at Peradeniya Junction, near the world-famous Peradeniya Botanical Gardens. It connects to Kandy, home of the Sri Dalada Maligawa, which houses the Sacred Tooth Relic of the Lord Buddha, before descending to Matale.

Station NameDistance (Mile)
The Line from Peradiniya Junction
katugastota10
Wattegama14
Ukuwela20
Matale24

3. Train Tour Routes in Sri Lanka – Coast Line– Colombo Secretariat halt to Matara via Galle – extension of the track up to Hambantota and Kataragama is currently under construction.

The Coast Line (Southern Line) runs south from Colombo, following the edge of the Indian Ocean. It offers passengers views of tropical beaches and coconut palms.

Station NameDistance (Mile)
The Line From Colombo Fort
Colombo Fort
Slave Island2
Kollupitiya3
Bambalapitiya4
Wellawatta5
Dehiwala7
Mount Lavinia8
Ratmalana
Agulana11
Lunawa12
Moratuwa13
Panadura17
Wadduwa21
Kalutara North26
Kalutara South27
Payagala South31
Beruwela35
Aluthgama38
Bentota
Induruwa41
Kosgoda45
Balapitiya49
Ambalangoda52
Hikkaduwa60
Dodanduwa64
Gintota68
Galle71
Talpe78
Koggala
Ahangama84
Weligama89
Kamburugamuwa95
Matara98

4. Train Tour Routes in Sri Lanka – Northern Line

Polgahawela to Kankesanturei deviates from the Main Line at Polgahawela junction – presently operating only up to Omanthai, track was abandoned beyond Vavuniya due to war but extended service up to Omanthei on May 2011 after the end of civil war. Reconstruction began in March 2009 to re-extend track up to Kankesanthurai.

Station NameDistance (Mile)
The Line From Polgahawela Junction
Polgawela Junction
Pothuhara8
Kurunegala14
Wellawaya20
Ganewatta27
Nagollagama35
Maho Junction40
Ambanpola48
Galagamuwa54
Thambuththegama66
Talawa72
Sawasthripura77
Anuradhapura82
Parasagahawewa90
Medawachchiya Juction98
Vauniya112
Puliyankulam127
Mankulam141
Murikandy151
Kilinochchi160
Paranthan163
Chundikkulam Lagoon
Elephant Pass
Palalli177
Kodikamamam186
Meesalai
Sankathanai
Chawakachcheri191
Thachanthoppu
Navankuli196
Uppu Aru Lagoon
Punkankulam
Jaffna201
Kokkuvil203
Kondawil204
Inukam
Chunnakam206
Mallakam
Tellipalai
Mawiddapuram
Kankasanthurei212

5. Train Tour Routes in Sri Lanka – Batticaloa Line- separates from the Northern Line at Maho junction and extends up to Batticaloa via Polonnaruwa

The Batticaloa Line branches eastward from the Northern Line at Maho, to Polonnaruwa, site of an ancient capital in the 11th century and home to many historic monuments. The line continues to the eastern city of Batticaloa.

Station NameDistance (Mile)
The Line from Mahoo Junction
Mahoo Junction
Moragollagama14
Kalawewa26
Kekirawa31
Habarana
Palugaswewa41
Galoya Junction55
Minneriya
Hinguraggoda66
Polonnaruwa76
Manampitiya82
Punani
Valachchena
Batticaloa

6. Train Tour Routes in Sri Lanka – Tricomalee Line- separates from the Batticaloaline at Gal-oya junction in the to Trincomalee.

Station NameDistance (Mile)
The Line from Gal Oya Junction
Gal Oya Junction
Kanthalai19
Thampalakamam30
China Bay40
Trincomalee44

7. Train Tour Routes in Sri Lanka – Puttalam Line – Colombo to Puttalam – deviates from the Main Line at Ragama.

Station NameDistance (Mile)
The Line from Ragama Junaction
Ragama Junction
Peralanda
Kandana
Kapuwatta
Ja-Ella4
Thudella
Alawathugoda
Seduwa8
Liyanagemulla
Katunayake11
Kurana12
Negombo15
Kochchikade18
Belawatta21
Lunuwila24
Nattandiya29
Madampe35
Chilaw
Bangadeniya47
Mundai58
Palavi71
Puttlama74
Noor Nagar

8. Train Tour Routes in Sri Lanka – Mannar Line (Earlier Indo-Lanka Line) Madawachchi to Talaimannar – Divides from Northern Line at Madawachchi junction

Station NameDistance (Mile)
The Line from Medawachchiya Junction
Medawachchiya Junction
Wedichikulama13
Madhu Road27
Murunkan35
Gulf of Mannar
Mannar49
Pesalai58
Talaimannar64

9. Train Tour Routes in Sri Lanka – Kelani Valley Line (originally narrow gauge) – Colombo to Yatiyantota – presently operating only up to Avissawella, the track beyond Avissawella was abandoned in 1940. Broad gauged up to Avissawella in 1997

Station NameDistance (Mile)
The Line from Colombo Fort
Colombo
Maradana
Baseline Road
Cotta Road
Narahenpita3
Kirulapona
Nugegoda6
Pengiriwatta
Udahamulla
Nawinna
Maharagama9
Pannipitiya
Kottawa12
Malapalla
Homagama15
Panagoda
Godagama
Meegoda18
Watareka
Padukka22
Waga28
Kosgama31
Puwakpitiya
Awissawella37