Rail was introduced in Sri Lanka in 1864 to transport coffee from plantations in the hill country district
of Kandy to the port city of Colombo
on its way to Europe and the world market. The coffee blight of 1871 destroyed many a fine plantation and
tea replaced coffee.
With the development of tea plantations in the 1880s, the joint-stock companies swallowed up the former
individual proprietorship of the coffee era.
Under corporate ownership and management control by companies, the process of production of tea became more
sophisticated and needed more and more
railways built to the Kandyan highlands. To send tea to Colombo and to transport labour, machinery, manure,
rice, and foodstuff, etc to Kandy,
another 100 miles of railways were constructed in the tea planting districts to serve the expanding tea
To serve the coconut plantations flourishing in the west, southwest and northwest coastal areas of the country, and the wet inland rubber plantations below the tea belt, railway lines were built in the wake of these agricultural developments. Thereafter, the need for cheap and safe travel in order to open up the hinterland of the country led to the expansion of the railway.
An extension of the Main Line to Kandy was made north to the ancient city of Anuradhapura, going further north to Kankesanturai and west to Talaimannar to connect the island with South India by ferry, to bring Indian labour for the tea and rubber plantations, and also import rice and other food stuffs not indigenously produced in sufficient quantities.
Towards the east, there was little economic justification to lay a line to the dry zone in that direction, but it became strategically worthwhile to lay a line to the natural harbour of Trincomalee and also connect it to the provincial capital of Batticaloa. These lines were laid with light (21 kg) section rails, as was the narrow gauge section to serve the rubber plantations east of Colombo, known as the Kelani Valley Line.
Up country, a similar branch line was laid from Nanu Oya on the Main Line through very difficult terrain to serve the tea plantations around Nuwara Eliya. Track alignment was defined in this section about 140 years ago, when economic considerations were vastly different. The railways achieved modal superiority with speeds of 25 to 40 kmph in the hill country and 65 to 80 in the low country. Civil engineering criteria was influenced by the economic need to minimize cuts and fills, permitting gradients to 2 to 3 % and minimizing bridge lengths. As a result, the alignment here is winding with very sharp curves.
In the early days of the railways, the bulk of the freight was carried to the port of Colombo and as the port expanded, rail lines were laid to serve every pier.
Intercity & Express trainsAvailable class types : 1st ,2nd and 3rd
Intercity, Express & Night mail trainsAvailable class types : 1st ,2nd and 3rd
Intercity & Express trainsAvailable class types : 1st ,2nd, 3rd and observations saloon
Intercity & Express trainsAvailable class types : 1st ,2nd, 3rd and observations saloon
Night mail trainAvailable class types : 2nd and 3rd
Intercity, Express & Night mail trainsAvailable class types : 1st, 2nd and 3rd
Night mail trainAvailable class types : 2nd class
Slow trainAvailable class types : Observations saloon
You should use a valid VISA or Master Credit/ Debit card when making online reservations through the internet.
You agree that the debit/credit card details provided by you for use of the Sri Lanka Railways online seat reservation service is correct and accurate and you shall not use a Debit/ credit card, that is not lawfully owned by you or the use of which is not authorized by the lawful owner thereof. You further agree and undertake to provide correct and valid debit/credit card details.
You agree, understand and confirm that your personal data including without limitation details relating to debit card/ credit card transmitted over the Internet may be susceptible to misuse, hacking, theft and/ or fraud and the Sri Lanka Railways or your Payment Service Provider(s) have no control over such matters.
The Sri Lanka Railways (including its service providers and suppliers), the Payment Service Provider(s) and its affiliates and associates shall not be liable, at any time, for any failure of performance, error, omission, interruption, deletion, defect, delay in operation or transmission, computer virus, communications line failure, theft or destruction or unauthorized access to, alteration of, or use of information contained on the Website.
You warrant, agree and confirm the following when you initiate a payment transaction through the Service and/or issue an online payment instruction and/or provide your card / bank details:
You are responsible for all transactions performed utilizing your credit/debit card and/or bank account.
Server Slow Down/Session Timeout: In case the Website or Payment Service Provider’s webpage, that is linked to the Website, is experiencing any server related issues like 'slow down' or 'failure' or 'session timeout', you shall, before initiating the second payment, check whether your bank account has been debited or not and accordingly resort to one of the following options:
|Number hours to the train departure time
|More than 168 hours (7 days +)
|Less than 168 hours but more than 48 hours ( 2 days > 7 days)
|Less than 48 hours ( less than 2 days)
|Refund percentage (%) from the ticket fee
SLR shall not be held liable for any damages; loss or theft of personal luggage and belongings, nor can SLR be held liable for personal injury, accident, illness or death while guests are on an excursion made available by the train.
SLR shall also not be held responsible, when circumstances beyond its control lead to an interruption, early termination, delay or cancellation of any particular trip. Such circumstances shall include, but not be limited to instances of vis major/force majeure and/or casus fortuitus (natural causes such as floods and other natural disasters, fortuitous and unforeseen events, etc.).
Notwithstanding anything to the contrary, Sri Lanka Railways and its mTicketing Service Provider] shall not be liable to you and/or to any third party for any direct, indirect, consequential, special, incidental and/or punitive damages, lost profit, lost revenue, mental distress, inconvenience, hardship, loss/corruption or destruction of data and/or the like. Sri Lanka Railways and its mTicketing Service Provider are not liable for any claims, loss and/or damage suffered by any person due to fraudulent use of that person’s debit/credit card and/or for refunding any payments made through such debit/credit card. Sri Lanka Railways’ and its mTicketing Service Provider’s liability is excluded and limited to the maximum extent permitted by law.
You shall indemnify and hold harmless Sri Lanka Railways, its mTicketing Service Provider and their respective employees and directors from and against any and all claims, losses, damages, liabilities, demands, suits, proceedings, costs and expenses, arising out of and/or in any way connected with your use of the Services and/or arising from your breach of any representation, warranty, terms and/or conditions specified herein.
Children from the age of 3 (three) years and younger sharing a seat with their parents travel free of charge (maximum of 1 (one)child per adult). Due to space constraints, SLR will not be able to accommodate any additional seat(s) to accommodate the infant / children. Children will have to share the seat with their parents / guardians. Should this pose a problem, SLR recommends that the guests book an additional seat for the children (in which case the children's rate does not apply and the standard adult rate for the seat shall apply). Children from the age of 3 (three) years and older pay full adult rates. SLR does not serve or provide special meals for children and/ or infants or adults. Children should be kept under strict adult supervision by their parents/ guardians and should not inconvenience other guests.
For safety reasons, no guest is allowed to bring dangerous goods such as firearms, flammable substances, and fireworks, poisonous or toxic substances on board.
No pets are allowed onboard.
Each adult passenger will be allowed, to bring on board their luggage, free of charge as per SLR’s general regulation. (Refer to general commercial rules set out below. For any enquiries meet a railway office.) The commuters will have to store luggage in the Luggage cabin by themselves. Luggage/baggage stored in the Luggage cabin is subject to availability. SLR would not provide additional space to accommodate their luggage. Heavy luggage is exclusively prohibited as little space available for commuters to store their luggage.
As per general commercial rules of SLR, followings are the limitations applicable on free luggage based on the type of ticket.
Passengers are strictly recommended to ensure that their luggage is(are) securely locked. SLR is not responsible for any stolen or lost luggage.
You agree that Sri Lanka Railways at its sole discretion may revise the Terms
and Conditions herein at any time without assigning any reasons therefore and
you agree to be bound by all such revisions made by Sri Lanka Railways from time
to time. It is your responsibility to periodically review the latest version of
the Terms and Conditions uploaded at
The SLR retains the right to suspend or terminate this Service at any time without any notice to you.
Passengers must provide the booking reference number along with their NIC or passport to the counter and Tickets will not be issued to 3rd party for any reason.
These terms and conditions and the Service shall be subject to and construed in accordance with the laws of the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka and all disputes pertaining thereto shall be subject to the exclusive jurisdiction of the Courts of Sri Lanka.
Any enquiries or complaints should be forwarded in writing to the Deputy General Manager (commercial) - Sri Lanka Railways Headquarters, Colombo-10.