Thursday, July 29, 2010

Sri Lanka Railway

Lanka Railway Department

(former CGR – Ceylon Government Railway) is a key department of Sri Lankan Government under Ministry of Transport with a history that begins in 1858. Sri Lankan Government Railway operates the nation's rail network linking Colombo - the commercial capital of Sri Lanka and many population centres and tourist destinations.


Presently the Sri Lankan Railway network consists of 1,508 kilometres with 5 ft 6 in (1,676 mm) broad gauge. The narrow gauge lines were 2 ft 6 in (762 mm). The railway contains some of the most magnificent scenic rail routes in the world. Particularly the Main Line winding through both natural beauties such as waterfalls, natural forest mountains, misty peaks and precipices, as well as man made festoons such as tea estates, pine forests and engineering feats including bridges and peak level stations

Sri Lankan Railway History


The Railway, then known as Ceylon Government Railways, 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 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.

Rolling Stock

The First Rolling Stock landed in Ceylon in 1864. These engines were 4-4-0 Type, two wheeled coupled with a tender, with a fuel capacity of 5 Tons and 15,200, Gallons of water. The length was 49 ft. over buffers and 59 tons in weight. These engines were in use till 1926. Three and Four driving wheel locomotives, with Saturated Steam Super Heater boilers were introduced 1915. Garret Class double headed locomotive were introduced in 1928 to eliminate the need for a 2nd engine to haul trains over a gradient of 1 in 44 in the up-country areas. In 1954 Canadian Government gifted to Ceylon, the M2 Class General Motors Electric Locomotives of 1310 H.P. In the mid 1950s, a Hydraulic Power Coachers were perched for the faster and cleaner service for office workers. A land mark in the history of the railways was the complete dieselization of it’s motive power in 1969 by the introduction of 88 Diesel Hydraulic Locomotives.

The first consignment of coaches of 2- Wheeled, 2 Door, with 9’ 6” Wheel Base and 22’ 6” long, equipped with projecting sun-shades, bonnet type of ventilator glass drop light and double roof with cocoanut oil lamp started serving in this country and were in service for over nearly 20 years.

The railway good service was inaugurated with the type of wagons such as 4 wheeled wooden Covered Wagons.

Signaling and Telecommunication

On the inauguration of the First Railway to Ambepussa in 1864, there was no need for signaling. The trains were run at long intervals and on time table to make sure that the trains were the kept well apart.

Tablet Instrument was introduced as speeds and frequencies increased for safe operation on single lines. Lock and Block instruments were used for double line sections. The List and Mores System was one of the earliest forms of interlocking used at single line station. Color light Signaling and Centralized Traffic Control was started in 1959. The Railway Telecommunication system has been modernized by the introduction of VHF/UHF Radio Telecommunication facility between station and control offices.


In 1906, the Railway Operating Department was divided in to 3 divisions namely Colombo, Anuradhpuraya and Nawalapitiya.