B. D. Rampala
As the General Manager of CGR.
|Born||14 November 1910
Pannipitiya, British Ceylon
|Died||20 June 1994(aged 83)|
|Education||Kottawa Ananda Maha Vidyalaya (then Kottawa Buddhist Mix School), Nalanda College, Colombo
Ananda College, Colombo, University of Ceylon
|Employer||Sri Lanka Railways|
|Known for||The first Ceylonese Chief Mechanical Engineer and general manager of Sri Lanka Railways|
Bamunusinghearachchige Don Rampala (14 November 1910 – 20 June 1994), MBE (popularly known as B. D. Rampala) was Chief Mechanical Engineer and later general manager of Sri Lanka Railways. He was the first native Sri Lankan to hold the post of Chief Mechanical Engineer. In 1956, the Institution of Locomotive Engineers in London recognised Rampala as the finest diesel engineer in Asia at the time.
Education and Training
Rampala was born on 14 November 1910 in Pannipitiya Rukmale. He received his education at Kottawa Ananda Maha Vidyalaya (then Kottawa Buddhist Mix School) Nalanda College Colombo & Ananda College Colombo.
After completing his engineering apprenticeship in 1934 at Colombo University College, he joined Ratmalana Railway Mechanical Engineering Department of the then Ceylon Government Railway (present Sri Lanka Railways).
Chief Mechanical Engineer
In 1949 he was appointed as Chief Mechanical Engineer of the Railways, the first Sinhalese man at that post. During his time at this post, Rampala noticed many major railways around the world were upgrading from steam locomotives to diesel. He made his proposal to dieselise the Sri Lanka Railways, and in 1953, the first batch of diesel locomotives arrived from Brush Bagnall of the United Kingdom. When the locomotives started faulting, Rampala made modifications to them. When inspected by the British builders, his modifications were approved and not challenged against their original design. He submitted a paper on his observations to the Institution of Locomotive Engineers in London, which gave him full praise.
Rampala sought to upgrade the Railways. In the mid-1950s, he launched express trains to shorten journey times to major destinations. Named trains, like the Yal Devi and the Udarata Menike, were launched under his leadership. When he launched the Colombo-Matara Ruhunu Kumari train service, in October 1955, it was Rampala himself who drove the train from Colombo to Matara.
Until, the 1950s, Sri Lanka Railways operated entirely with a lock and block signalling system. Rampala introduced electronic colour signalling for the busiest portions of the railways in 1959. Train movements could then be controlled by a Centralized Traffic Control panel at Maradana, greatly improving safety.
Death and Legacy
He died on 20 June 1994 at the age of 84.
In addition to improving safety on the Sri Lanka Railways, Rampala has been remembered for his mark on culture. He created the Yal Devi train to connect Colombo, the capital, and Jaffna, in the now war-torn north. In doing so, he created a cultural icon that transcended any divides between north and south.
- B D Rampala The Engineer, entrepreneur and the legend
- "The Island". Rampala regime in the local Railway History. 19 July 2010.
- Tribute to B. D. Rampala, who modernized the Ceylon Railway
- Transactions/Journal Institution of Locomotive Engineers
- The Railways of Sri Lanka (Ceylon)
- "The Island". Remembering Rampala of the Railways. 28 July 2010.
- Bamunuarachchige Don Rampala; L. Sydney De Silva; Institution of Engineers, Sri Lanka (1991). History of the Sri Lanka Government Railway: B.D. Rampala felicitation volume. Institution of Engineers, Sri Lanka. ISBN 978-955-9119-00-5. Retrieved 21 January 2012.
- The railway gazette. January 1962. Retrieved 21 January 2012.
- Ceylon. Railway Dept (1960). Administration report of the General Manager, Ceylon Government Railway. Govt. Publications Bureau. Retrieved 21 January 2012.
- Railway gazette international. Reed Business Pub. 1957. Retrieved 21 January 2012.
- Institution of Engineers, Sri Lanka (1990). Transactions / Institution of Engineers, Sri Lanka. The Institution. Retrieved 21 January 2012.
- Great Britain and the East. Great Britain and the East, Ltd. 1950. Retrieved 21 January 2012.
- The electrical review. Electrical Review, Ltd. 1956. Retrieved 21 January 2012.
- Mining journal: A record of mining and metallurgical progress. Fisher, Knight & co., ltd. 1958. Retrieved 21 January 2012.
- Sanmugam Arumugam; Bhadra Kamaladasa; D. L. O. Mendis; Sri Lanka Water Heritage, Sri Lanka. Ministry of Irrigation and Water Management (2003). Water for people and nature: Sanmugam Arumugam commemoration volume : a selection of technical papers honouring his original contributions ... Sri Lanka Water Heritage. ISBN 978-955-8907-00-9. Retrieved 21 January 2012.
- Diesel railway traction. Railway Gazette. 1953. Retrieved 21 January 2012.
- Railway directory and year book. 1975. Retrieved 21 January 2012.
- The Electrical journal. D. B. Adams. 1950. Retrieved 21 January 2012.
- Modern transport. 1 July 1964. Retrieved 21 January 2012.
- Institute of Transport (London, England) (1972). Journal. Retrieved 21 January 2012.
- By Amara Hewamadduma "B.D Rampala Sri Lanka Railways Vishwakarmaya". Rivira News Paper. 28 February 2010. Retrieved 4 May 2010.