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I'm currently sat in a hotel on a two week tour of the island.


The railway is still essentially the same engineering as supplied byte various UK companies.


Photos and more to follow when I get home.


Signaling from Westinghouse, shunters from hunslet along with preserved steam locomotive.


Still has classic telegraph posts with wires in use.

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Hi there,

My wife and I went to this Island just about two years ago, we stayed all the time at the "Mount Lavinia" hotel, about an hours drive from Columbo Airport.

We certainly enjoyed ourselves despite not being in the best of health, at least it was nice and warm! I know there was an awful lot to see in the country but as I say, we weren't brilliant.

I did get out of the hotel and took myself into Columbo by (lovely broad gauge!) train and got to visit the railway museum, quite interesting!

LOADS of British builders plates!

Most locos I saw were either EMD or Alco built, DMU's were a huge mix ranging from (I think!) German/Hungarian to Indian/Chinese/Thai built machines - fascinating! I just saw what looked like a black British built shunter passing once but had no time to snatch a photo, which was a pity. I did take quite a few pictures though, maybe I'll sort them out one day?

As a keen tea drinker, I did appreciate the tea but I did find the curries rather warm but very tasty!

Enjoy the rest of your holiday!


John E.

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There are still 3 classes On most trains. But some trains have upto another 2 available, these are Rajdahni and Expo. Both are air conditioning business expo has meals and drinks,


Just a shame that the track needs a lot of work to get the ride quality up.


If you have money then you can contact JF travel as they can add on a Viceroy coach onto service train. They also do a few steam trips with s dedicated set of coaches.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Been back in the UK now for a week.  Busy sorting photos out...


Rail map of the island (found via Google)



A few photos of the Y class Hunslet built 0-6-0DH shunters that are still in operation (on one of my sites)



For details about the locomotives on the island the following are good.


Fleet list





Some more photos and comments to follow - must go play with 12":1' trains

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Slight deviation away from the railways, back on them with the next post.


The Devil sauce that they cook various ingredients in is very nice and it's also spicy hot.

Here is a link to a recipe on the web!



As many of us like a drink the following link has info of many of the beers available in the country.



Hotels and other accommodation is easy to book on the internet before or whilst you are away.  Many places have free wifi, even on the ExpoRail trains they have wifi.


The railway's own site is here http://www.railway.gov.lk/

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  • 3 weeks later...

Saw and photographed what looked like an ex LT RM in Colombo.


Getting back on track (topic).


CGR coat of arms



B9 4-6-0 135 at Colombo Fort built by Hunslet



845 at Galle



807 at Galle



B1 4-6-0 built by Beyer Peacock at Rambukana



Cowens Sheldon turn table at Nanu-oya



Nice signal



Westinghouse frame at Nanu-oya



Hen diesel loco at Nanu-oya



Ex Sentinel railcar - converted to Diesel



Hunslet NG tank loco



Typical good yard



Edmondson tickets are still in use



No comment!



Rough shunt



Hunslet 0-6-0DH 675 first of the Y class shunters at Kandy



Hitachi diesel at Kandy


For those of you that debate couplers on your models you can see what KD's look like with buffers.  The HE 530HP 0-6-0DH locos were fitted as standard from new - I have a works photo of one which for © reasons is not going on here, sorry.


All of the above were taken by me.

Edited by AMJ
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The T2 railcar is BG and according to the Viceroy site it's not operational but is on the project list. They seem to have items of interest for hire! There is tall about laying a tourist 2'6" line got the stored working items including a steam railcar from Shrewsbury.

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Recently I have added a few works photos for a number of the Hunslet locos such as the Y class diesel shunters and J class steam locos onto the Leeds Engine site as per link in my signature.


Today a friend has just given me a glass negative works photo of the CGR Y 699 similar to 675 - I intend to scan and include a copy on the site within the fullness of time.

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From a modelling perspective, they had a few ex LT trolleybuses many years back when it was still Ceylon. Some RTs too I think. 

Food for thought?

The ex LT buses were all motor buses. The trolleybuses in Columbo were all purchased brand new, they were however British built 4 wheel double deck buses virtually indistinguishable from the ones in the UK. They also had some 36 foot single deck Sunbeam trolleybuses, it was decided to abandon trolleybuses when they were only 7 years old. They indeed operated RT types as well as Routemasters and some earlier ex London buses. Apart from the Q class which was exported to Spain only six other London trolleybuses were ever exported, C class trolleybuses exported to Georgetown Malaya.

Edited by PhilJ W
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For those of you oop north I have been asked to do a show to Festiniog Leeds meeting later this year and it will be repeated (well it was going to be previewed) in January at the Middleton railway tuesday evening do.  This will be Sri Lanka in January 2014 through my camera.

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Can't advise about Kadagunnawa, sorry but I did go to the little 'museum' in Columbo in about March 2012, that was interesting as there were lots of British Empire artifacts.

A selection of photos from that day including from the main station;




















These were my more usual views, from my hotel!







A six axle class 67? Note the similarity to NSE livery on the coaches!



I love the appearance of the broad gauge!



More (many more!) on my flickr site, click any photo. Sorry they're not sorted yet.


John E.

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  • 3 months later...

Sri Lanka Railway Museum
During a recent visit to Sri Lanka, I managed to negotiate a short detour from our itinerary to visit the “new” National Railway Museum located about 10 miles outside Kandy. The website is fairly limited and the comments on Trip Adviser are ambivalent. For what it is worth, here are my thoughts.
The 10 miles from Kandy to Kadugannawa in a car took an hour. It took slightly longer to go back, as the schools were just coming out. The route was entirely built up for the whole distance and traffic was heavy – meaning that any air gap behind the car in front was immediately filled by a squadron of motor bikes and a couple of tuk-tuks, which materialise from nowhere. Taking the train might be a better bet.

The museum occupies the former goods shed and a couple of sidings at Kadugannawa.



Differential entrance prices are standard in Sri Lanka, so best get used to the idea. To keep this in proportion, 500 rupees is about £2-50.


Small exhibits are housed inside and rolling stock outside. Exhibits are well cared for and attended by a small staff but, sadly, there are virtually no clues to tell you what you are looking at. The inside exhibits include some works plates,


a set of single line block instruments (Tyers, from memory),


a warning sign that you would not see in the UK


and a slightly fanciful model railway (of very American origin).


The outside exhibits are mostly on short lengths of track at right angles to the running lines. If a steam loco could look embarrassed, I suspect that this one would (North British Loco of 1898). CGR locos were a dignified black as far as I understand, so this livery seems to be a bit creative, with someone exercising their artistic ambitions, rather than historical rigour.

I never expected to find diesel exhibits more interesting than steam, but, on this occasion, it was the case.




As well as the broad gauge exhibits, there was also this pair of narrow gauge diesels.

There were absolutely no clues about this carriage, but, to my eye, it appears to include some very early features – the flat sides, mounted directly onto the frames. It looked in very good shape externally and was providing a convenient caboose for one of the staff.



And a railcar.


Finally, there was a nice little ground frame (Saxby) demonstrating the interlocking required for a turnout and junction signal.

If anyone is considering a visit, I can only say that you will need serious commitment. We spent an enjoyable hour here, which was probably as long as anyone would want. With an hour’s journey each way to and from Kandy, it is a considerable investment of time for a modest (and mysterious) display. The international steam website 
seems to suggest that there is still quite a lot stashed away in the loco works at Colombo and it is difficult to imagine that there will be the space at Kadugannawa for much expansion. I can only suggest that, if anyone has the means to negotiate access to Colombo, that is likely to be a better bet.

Best wishes


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Another part of the trip to Sri Lanka was the opportunity to travel from Kandy to Nanu Oya by rail. Our actual destination for the day was Nuwara Eliya, but the nearest station is further down the hill at Nanu Oya – more anon.
We arrived at Kandy station with plenty of time to spare and discovered that we had plenty more as the train was about 30 minutes late arriving from Colombo. 


Tragically, this allowed a bit of time for exploration. Kandy is an interesting place as it is essentially a terminus, but with a single through track for trains going on to Matale. 


Trains for both Colombo and Badulla leave from the terminal tracks. There is a magnificent collection of semaphore signals across the station throat, controlled from a box on the end of the platform. An invitation to go and have a look, in exchange for a small gratuity, was too good to miss.



Although there are increasing numbers of multiple unit trains, there were still a number of loco hauled workings and even enough work to keep a station pilot busy.


Part of the activity involved turning observation cars, which justifies the continuing use of the turntable – see the signalling diagram.


Since Sri Lanka has Christian, Buddist, Hindu and Muslim communities, I am not sure who is allowed to use the special waiting room for clergy but it must make for an ecumenical place.

When our train arrived, it was a multiple unit (I think Chinese built) which reversed in the terminal section of the station. Seats in 1st class were therefore reversed by rotating 180 degrees. The preferred travelling location was the traditional Asian position of standing in the vestibule by an open door. The set seemed to be a bit like an HST, with two power cars and eight intermediate vehicles  - although forget anything about high speed. There was a lot of surging as we started or stopped which made me wonder whether the couplings were very slack to cope with the tortuous route.
One moment that I particularly enjoyed was a signal stop which involved much mobile phoning. After some time, we ran slowly past the signal, which was never pulled off, until we reached a level crossing which remained open with the typical anarchic stream of traffic surging across it. We did actually stop until the crossing keeper finally managed to lower a barrier and establish a clear way through.

The route is spectacular, climbing continuously through tea growing country and winding its way up the mountainside. I would highly recommend it, not only as a relief from Sri Lankan traffic and mountain roads, but for the great scenery and surroundings.  A car may be quicker, but, for me, it was one of the highlights of our trip. 






I mentioned that Nanu Oya is currently the nearest station to Nuwara Eliya, which was one of the traditional hill stations to which people retired (and possibly still do) in the hottest part of the year. In 1906 a narrow gauge railway was built to connect the broad gauge from Nanu Oya to Ragala via Nuwara Eliya,  known as Uda-Puswellawa or UPR line. The carriage below is one of the few surviving relics.


This must have been every bit as dramatic as the Himalaya and Darjeeling line and, if it still existed, would be an equivalent attraction. Powered by little Beyer Garretts, it must have been a memorable sight.

Best wishes



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COR!!! Look at that lovely broad gauge!

I remember walking over a level crossing by Mount Lavinia and thinking just how far apart the rails are, I could almost have laid between them!

Smashing looking Hunslet too! I just caught sight of one passing my hotel but no chance for a decent photo.

What a wonderful place.



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We had a tour around Sri Lanka over Xmas and New Year. I didn't take sufficient opportunities to look at the railway but we did do a trip in the hilll country (very crowded and standing all the way) from Ambewela to Bandara wara.  We had time to have a good look at Ambewela which was a very nice small station. Generally petroleum appears to be an importan component of the freight that is carried, which keeps the number of tankers down on the roads - which is fortunate as anyone whom has travelled on their roads would testify.


Anyway my photos are here http://paulbartlett.zenfolio.com/srilankarailway




PS photos of three of their endemic birds here http://paulbartlett.zenfolio.com/srilankabird

Edited by hmrspaul
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  • 1 year later...

The photo of the clergy waiting room reminds me of the photo I took of a window of a third class coach with reserved for clergy above it. A friend liked it as he is a man of the cloth.


Wabtec (who currently own the Hunslet brand) have been approached for quite a few spares for the Y class 0-6-0DH. This includes new axles.

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Very informative thread, thanks to those who posted photos. I'm going to Sri Lanka next month, partly business partly holiday with Mrs Dava. We have 2 days near Colombo and 4 days in Galle, limited opportunities for rail viewing/transport.



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  • 4 weeks later...

We've just returned from a week in Sri Lanka. It wasn't a rail trip, rather a business visit followed by a few days holiday in Galle. The weather was very hot and apart from seeing a few trains whilst travelling by road, I had just a quick visit to the station in Galle to take some photos.


The airport at Colombo Bandaraike is served by a rail branch, with its own passenger station [trains for airport workers?] and an aviation fuel train made up of silver bogie tankers between barrier brake vehicles converted from a passenger brake end. This would make an interesting 'colonial style' model, using North American stock. 


Here's the train departure board at Galle station




Looking down one platform under the canopy




Walking alongside the canal beside the station, here's the nameboard




And the Hunslet 0-6-0 shunter [Y Class?] waiting for some action




If we go again, the train to Kandy will be on the agenda. And the tuk-tuks are something else!



Edited by Dava
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Yes, that's a 'Y' class.


The line 'Up Country' to Kandy is fantastic, truly one of the Great Railway Journeys of the World. If you do get a chance to do it don't forget to stop and visit the National Railway Museum at Kaddugannawa,


Oh, despite them being known as generally known as tuk-tuks, in Sri Lanka they are usually called 'Three-wheelers', and a ride in one is certainly an experience! 


A more beautiful, charming, fascinating and welcoming island would be hard to find. I've been 5 times now and can't wait to go back.

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