Sri Lankan Rail system has a rich history. The railway network was introduced by the British colonial government in 1864. The main reason for building a railway system in Ceylon was to transport tea and coffee from the hill country to Colombo. Initially the service began with the Main Line of 54 kilometres connecting Colombo and Ambepussa.
Extensions were made to the main line in 1867, 1874, 1885, 1894 and 1924, extending its service to Kandy,Nawalapitiya, Nanu Oya, Bandarawela and Badulla, respectively. Many other railway lines were added to Ceylon Railway System within the first century of its life, such as a line to Matale in 1880, Coast Railway Line in 1895, Northern Line in 1905, Mannar Line in 1914, Kelani Valley in 1919, Puttalam Line in 1926, and Railway Line to Batticaloa and Trincomalee in 1928.
You can explore Sri Lanka by travelling to your chosen cities by train and thereafter using alternative transportation such as public buses or taxis to travel within the cities. This will give you the flexibility to change your itinerary to explore less traveled areas by the traditional tourist. Special Service for tourists and others is being provided by Sri Lanka Railways by introducing a special coach to intercity and other express trains. This air-conditioned coach consists of very comfortable seats with television and wi-fi as services. Catering too has been included. This service has been launched with private sector participation.
Inter-city Trains offer express service between main cities such as Colombo-Kandy, Colombo-Vavuniya and Colombo – Baticoloa . Accommodation comprises of unreserved 3rd Class, reserved 2nd Class and Observation Saloon seats.
The main railway lines are
- Colombo – Kandy – Nuwara Eliya – Elle – Badulla
- Colombo – Galle – Matara: The Coast Line
- Colombo – Polonnaruwa, Batticaloa, Trincomalee
- Colombo – Anuradhapura – Talaimannar/Jaffna
- Colombo commuter: Negombo, Mount Laviniya, Kalutara, Puttalam, Avissawella