Sri Lanka Railway Department, branded "Sri Lanka Railways" (SLR), is Sri Lanka's railway owner and primary operator. It is a key department of the Sri Lankan Government, under the Ministry of Transport, with a history that begins in 1858. Sri Lanka Railways (formerly CGR – Ceylon 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.
An express train, the Udarata Menike, runs through the scenic Sri Lankan hill country
Rail Transport in Sri Lanka consists of a heavy-rail intercity network connecting major population centres and commuter rail serving Colombo commuter traffic. State-run Sri Lanka Railways, originally known as Ceylon Government Railways, is the nation's railway owner and primary operator. The railways were conceived in the 1850s as an instrument to develop and unify Sri Lanka. Service began on 27 December 1864, with the construction of the Main Line from Colombo to Ambepussa, 54 kilometres to the east.
The railway now moves 300,000 passengers daily on 324 trains between 320 stations across the country. At a peak of 1,897.56 metres (6,225.6 ft), Sri Lanka has the highest broad gauge railway in the world.
During the first half of the twentieth century, a tram system operated on the streets of Colombo, carrying commuters within the city.
Bamunusinghearachchige Don Rampala, 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.
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.
MLW (Canada) Alco Bombardier MX620. This was the longest locomotive in the Sri Lanka Railways previously. It was imported 1975 onwards. All units still operational. Normally it is not going beyond Polgahawela on main line. Usually not going upcountry now. But have gone there regularly until the previous decade.
Ceylon Government Railways declared opened its railway transport service on On 27th December 1864
The first locomotives pulled trains in the 1860s on the original segment of the Main Line, on 54 kilometres connecting Colombo and Ambepussa. In 1953, Sri Lanka Railways enhanced its service to more power with diesel locomotives. Since then, various types of diesel locomotives were added to the service.
SLR divides the network into three operating regions, based in Colombo Maradana, Nawalapitya, and Anuradhapura. Railway network comprises nine lines. Popular services were given iconic names, in the 1950s.
Commuter trains serve the busiest portions of the railways, ferrying commuters within Colombo and its suburbs. Most commuter trains are operated with diesel multiple units which are not divided into classes (considered as third class). The three-class configuration seen in the inter-city services. Commuter trains alleviate rush hour congestion on city roads, but can be very crowded.
The railway network was introduced by the British colonial government in 1864. The main reason for building a railway system in Sri Lanka (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.