Main Line (Sri Lanka)

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Main Line
An intercity train, the Udarata Menike, runs through the scenic Sri Lankan hill country
An intercity train, the Udarata Menike, runs through the scenic Sri Lankan hill country
Overview
Type Intercity rail
System Sri Lanka Railways
Termini Colombo Fort
Badulla
Operation
Opening 1864
Owner Sri Lanka Railways
Operator(s) Sri Lanka Railways
Technical
Track gauge 5 ft 6 in (1,676 mm)
Electrification No
Route map
Main Line
Badulla
Hali Ela
Uduwara
Demodara loop
Demodara
Ella
Kithal Ella
Heel Oya
Kinigama
Bandarawela
Diyatalawa
Haputale
Tangamale Sanctuary
Idalgashinna
Ohiya
Summit 1898.1m above MSL
Pattipola
Ambewela
Horton Plains National Park
Parakramapura
Closed Udapussellawa Line
Nanu Oya
Radella
Great Western
Watagoda
Upper Kothmale Reservoir
Thalawakele
Kotagala
Hatton
Rozella
Ihala Watawala
Watawala
Galboda
Penrose
Inguruoya
Hightenford
Mahaweli Ganga
Nawalapitiya
Pallegama
Ulapane
Warakapitiya
Thembiligala
Wallahagoda
Gampola
Kahatapitiya
Gangathilakaya
Weligalla
Polgaha Anga
Gelioya
Koshinna
Matale Line
Peradeniya Junction
Barammane
Pilimatalawa
Kadugannawa
Balana
Ihala Kotte
Gangoda
Yatiwaldeinya
Kadigamuwa
Rambukkana
Kuda Oya
Yatagama
Tismalpola
Panaliya
Northern Line
Polgahawela Junction
Walakumbura
Alawwa
Bujjomuwa
Yattalgoda
Maha Oya
Ambepussa
Botale
Wilwatta
Mirigama
Wijaya Rajadahana
Ganegoda
Pallewela
Keenawala
Wadurawa
Veyangoda
Heendeniya Pattiyagoda
Magalegoda
Bemmulla
Daraluwa
Gampaha
Yagoda
Ganemulla
Bulugahagoda
Batuwaththa
Walpola
Puttalam Line
Ragama Junction
Horape
Ederamulla
Hunupitiya
Wanawasala
Kelaniya
Kelani River
Dematagoda
Kelani Valley Line
Maradana
St Sebastian Canal
Colombo Fort
Coast Line

The Main Line is a major railway line in the rail network of Sri Lanka. The line begins at Colombo Fort and winds through the Sri Lankan hill country to reach Badulla.

Route definition[edit]

Badulla Railway station

The Main Line starts from Colombo and runs east and north past the rapidly developing centers of Ragama, Gampaha, Veyangoda, and Polgahawela.

At Rambukkana, the Main Line begins its steep climb into the hills of the upcountry. Between Balana and Kadugannawa, the track clings to the side of sheer cliffs, offering passengers spectacular views of Batalegala ('Bible' Rock).

From Peradeniya Junction, a branch line reaches Kandy and Matale.

The Main Line then continues its climb through the scenic tea country, connecting busy local market centers at Gampola, Nawalapitiya, and Hatton before reaching Nanu-Oya. This is the connection to the former colonial resort of Nuwara Eliya, still popular for its temperate climate, classic hotels, and British-style gardens. The Main Line continues its ascent to the summit at Pattipola, 6,226 feet above sea level, before descending past Bandarawela to Badulla. In the upcountry, passengers are rewarded with views of tea gardens, mountains and valleys, cascading torrents and waterfalls.[1]

History[edit]

Early steam powered train on the Main line
Early steam powered train on the Main line

The first segment of the Main line was opened in 1864, with the construction of the line from Colombo to Ambepussa, 54 kilometers to the east. This was the first rail line in the country. The first train ran on 27 December 1864. The line was officially opened for traffic on 2 October 1865. The main reason for building a railway system in Sri Lanka (Ceylon) was to transport tea and coffee from the hill country to Colombo.

The Main Line was extended in stages with service to Kandy beginning in 1867, to Nawalapitiya in 1874, to Nanu-Oya in 1885, to Bandarawela in 1894, and to Badulla in 1924.[1]

Till 1953, the Main line operated with steam locomotives. In the 1950s, service was enhanced with diesel locomotives, under the leadership of B. D. Rampala.[2] Various types of diesel locomotives were added to the service.

In 2011, ExpoRail and Rajadhani Express began operating a premium section on trains on the Main Line. These services were launched to improve rail transport's appeal to the public.[3][4] Sri Lanka Railways also began importing new diesel-multiple units to replace the aging rolling stock previously used on the line. Built by China's CSR Corporation Limited, the new S12 trainsets are designed to work on the steep gradients of the hill country.[5] The commuter rail portion of the line, within the Colombo metropolitan area, is planned to be electrified, though no ground work has started.[6]

Operators and service providers[edit]

Sri Lanka Railways operates most passenger services on the Main Line. Sri Lanka Railways' most notable services on the line includes the Udarata Menike, Podi Menike, Tikiri Menike, and Senkadagala Menike.

ExpoRail and Rajadhani Express operate premium services on the Main Line. They run premium carriages attached to Sri Lanka Railways-operated trains.[3][7][8]

Infrastructure[edit]

Older railway infrastructure on the Main line, including a gantry of semaphore signals

The Main Line has a gauge of 5 ft 6 in (1,676 mm) broad gauge.[2]

The Main Line is not electrified. Regular services run on diesel power. However, there are plans to electrify the commuter rail network, within Colombo. This includes the Main-line segment between Colombo Fort and Veyangoda.[6]

Most of the line currently operates on a lock-and-block signaling system. The commuter rail section was upgraded to electric signalling in the mid-twentieth century. The system is connected to a centralised traffic control panel at Maradana Railway Station.[2]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b "Sunday Observer". Cameos of the past: First train on line to Badulla from Colombo. 2010-07-19. 
  2. ^ a b c "The Island". Rampala regime in the local Railway History. 2010-07-19. 
  3. ^ a b "Luxury Rail". Lanka Business Today. 2012-02-26. Retrieved 28 February 2012. 
  4. ^ "Sri Lankan railway introduces luxury class Services on Colombo -Kandy rails". News.lk. 2011-11-07. Retrieved 28 February 2012. 
  5. ^ "Dailynews". Railway gets new power sets from China. 2010-04-23. 
  6. ^ a b "Future Plans". Sri Lanka Railways. Retrieved 2012-02-11. 
  7. ^ "NEWS.LK: The Official Government News Portal of Sri Lanka". Sri Lankan railway introduces luxury class Services on Colombo-Kandy rails. 2011-10-07. 
  8. ^ "Daily Mirror". Expo Rail: Wonder on the track. 2011-10-03.