Is it worth it to spend on Rajdhani Express

Railway lines in Sri Lanka. How to buy train tickets in Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka's railways are not particularly diverse, it is much faster and more comfortable to travel around the country by bus. But there is a case when it is worth giving up comfort and using the services of the ShZD. Don't worry, the fascinating mountain landscapes won't let you regret it for a minute.

Of course, unless you are traveling in first class, you shouldn't get too fanatical about trains or you risk exhausting your body. We start our journey from Bandarawela Railway Station and head towards Nuwara Eliya. After a short stop, we continue to Kandy.

This is what a typical train station looks like, looks like a train station in a nameless town in the Wild West, only the lush vegetation and the lack of Clint Eastwood are a bit embarrassing:

The inside is very ascetic: ticket office (open half an hour or an hour before the train arrives), a controller and a board with a timetable:

Carefully placed railings do not let you get lost on the way to the checkout:

After each train departure, a new timetable is manually displayed on the display board and the departure time is set:

Each station has a boss who can be recognized by his white uniform and his focused appearance:

Let's look at this very mountainous Sri Lanka:

Our train is gaining height:

The number of tea plantations increases in direct proportion to this:

Waterfalls can often be found in the mountains:

Sri Lanka is an agricultural country and if the island's coastline is a Pan-Lankan health resort then the mountainous areas can safely be called granaries. All food is grown here:

Cabbage, carrots, potatoes ...

Small reservoirs are built to irrigate fields:

There is also a place for landscaping in the mountains, to make waxing easier, the following terraces are cut:

A considerable number of tunnels give the route a special charm:

And the carbon monoxide gas that spreads inside them:

There are nice tight tunnels, but stay in control and don't lose your head:

Don't deny the pleasure of feeling like a rabbit:

It does happen that all seats are occupied by others:

By the way, rabbits are caught by conductors in the form of People's Commissars who check the availability of a ticket and compliance with the social class.

After checking the ticket, do not rush to get rid of it. There is another degree of protection. The ticket must be returned at the exit of the train station:

In case of loss, you will have to pay a penalty for the loss of inventory:

Trains are very often late, especially in the mountains. This is due to the wear and tear of the railway floor, which is in a permanent state of repair. Here you can walk, walk and then stand for 30 minutes and wait for the repairs on this section to be completed, although most likely they will simply re-route the rails for you so they can be disassembled right away:

Sri Lanka trains fair sex:

It is very difficult to stay hungry on the train, food sellers drive regularly.

Almost all railway lines are single-track:

Therefore, you often have to wait at the stations until the oncoming train misses:

Specific arrow translation:

Road to Kandy:

By the way, there is no direct train to Kandy. At Peradeniya station you need to make a change while the ticket is the same.

Now let's talk a little about classes. There are three classes on long-haul flights: 3, 1, 2. In different trains, the first class can be: a sleeping compartment (for two people), a seating compartment, with air conditioning in the car or with a preliminary seat reservation. Second class usually consists of seats with fans and without prior reservation of a seat (recommended for short trips, no longer than 2-3 hours). Third class - seating with a large number of locals in the car.

The cost of each class is almost twice that of the previous one.

This is what the second class car of the Colombo-Kandy train looks like:

And this is the second class car from Negombo-Colombo:

Good luck and smooth route!

Hello friends. Today the story will be devoted to one of the most beautiful routes in Sri Lanka. This trip to the mountainous region of Nuwara Eliya by train. There are beautiful landscapes, clean air and a small group of crazy tourists sticking to the windows of the carriages with their cameras. Although the locals who admire the beauty of this section of the high mountain railway are no less than visitors. Because it is very beautiful!

After reading the wonderful reviews we recorded our train trip from Ella as a must do.

We noticed that there are several nice routes on the train, but most of them are the Nuwara Eliya - Ella trains. Ok we thought we will fly to Sri Lanka a few days before the trip and buy train tickets.

How we bought train tickets

It is good that we told the hostess in Kandy about our plans. She immediately said that tickets must be purchased in advance. The route is popular and even for the usual 3rd class you may not have time to buy tickets at the box office. And she offered us to buy a class 1 ticket over the internet. This whole conversation took place a week before the expected travel date.

It turned out that the Nuwara Eliya - Ella train is not a tourist route tailor-made for Europeans, but the usual route for local trains. The route is one of the oldest.

Trains run differently, there are modern ones with different car classes and there is a cuckoo train. It has several 2nd and 3rd class cars and is specially connected to 1st class tourist cars of the Expo Rail and Rajadhani Express companies.

At our date and time it was possible to buy seats in the Expo Rail car. We wanted to depart from Nanu Oya train station, which is 7-10 km from Nuwara Eliya.

We went to the construction site and hurray - there were still a few vacancies. The hostess also told us which places to choose. In the coach, like in buses, there are seats with full and incomplete windows. With a full course you can see all the beauties so we bought these places.

Unfortunately I can't tell you where they were, I don't remember anymore. It turned out that this isn't that important as we barely sat during the trip. The whole time we were stuck in the vestibule and constantly taking photos, it was so beautiful.

By the way, it wasn't just us who were so nimble - all the tourists moved around the car every now and then, looking for the best places to film. The weather wasn't perfect, but you can get an overall picture.

Friends, now we are in the telegram: our channel on Europe, our channel on Asia ... Welcome back)

From Nuwara Eliya to Elu

The train arrived at Nanu Oya Station 20 minutes late. The drive to Ella takes 4 hours. We arrived at the train station like white people in a car with a driver. We also ordered this service in advance. The same hostess helped us.

The driver took us to Nanu Oya Station, our suitcases and things were left in the car. We boarded the train with just cameras and Mr Perera (driver) drove to Ella, where he met us on the platform when our train got there. Such maneuvers are carried out by anyone who has booked a car with a driver. Very convenient.

On the way we often met tea plantations, houses of local residents.

The train is not an express train, there were several stations where locals and tourists alike settled.

And of course the Sri Lankan landscape - mountains, forests, fields.

On the way we came across Sri Lankans who were slowly going about their business

And oncoming trains.

How much does a ticket cost and how do you buy it?

At that time, a ticket for the transportation of the Expo Rail was 1 1000 rupees. Now it costs 1,450 rupees.

UPD: The company no longer exists.

During the tourist season (December-February), tickets must be purchased 1-2 weeks in advance, possibly earlier. When you have calculated your route, it is better to buy 2-3 weeks in advance.

It is no longer possible to buy a ticket for Expo Rail online. The service is not available due to the expiration of the service contract. The name of the new carrier and the time of the advertisement are not known.

The Rajadhani Express trolley cannot be purchased online either.

Each of these companies has its own routes. For example, Rajadhani Express has trains to / from. Discover, choose and buy.

Tickets are now available at the ticket offices of Badulla, Kandy and Kolombo Fort train stations.

because during the high season (December and January) the seats in the cars of classes 1 and 2 are sold out one month before departure. Currently, however, it is almost impossible for tourists to buy a train ticket without booking online.

What should I do?

Alternatively, ask the hotel owners where you would like to stay before you travel to book tickets. Maybe they'll meet you.

You can view the train schedule here ... This is the official website of the Sri Lankan railways.

Select NANUOYA from the list in the Start Station line and ELLE in the End Station line.

Train schedule Nanu Oya-Ella.

As you can see, the cost of the 1st class carriage is not shown because it is a tourist car and it is attached to the main train.

The food is included in the Expo Rail Ticket. The car has a toilet, a washbasin; If free WiFi catches, the password must be requested from the conductor. And of course there is a large, comfortable vestibule where you will spend most of the time.

Plus first class: passengers of other classes will not get on the car, salespeople will not get on and will not take care of their goods. And you will have a polite and always smiling guide.

4 hours passed unnoticed. The memory card was full, the batteries were dead. We were happy.

Our driver met us on the platform in Ella town and took us to the hotel.

Where to stay in Ella

Now many housing options in Sri Lanka have appeared on the service AirBnb ... we have written how you can use this service. If you can't find an available hotel room, search for accommodation through this booking page.

To plan a tourist route around the island in advance, check the exact train schedule in Sri Lanka. Where to change, when the train leaves and arrives, how much is on the way and other useful information for travelers.

Most of the local population travels around the island either by train or by bus. The train journey takes longer than the bus. But more budget.

It is better to buy first and second class tickets in advance. To get into first class, buy tickets 30 days before you travel.

You should try to get into third class cars first to be able to sit down or stand up comfortably.

Trains to or from Colombo are usually crowded. Getting into the car at rush hour is very exhausting. Some of the locals will have time to take up empty seats, the rest will stand close to the aisle or next to the toilet. Tourists usually do not have the ability to pave their way to the seats. You have to stand for several hours in a row.

Train schedule on the official website

The train schedule in Sri Lanka is usually unchanged, but before buying a ticket it is better to check the information on the Ceylon Railway official website.

Page in English language ... The table shows the type of train - high speed, night, etc. Then the place of departure (From) and the destination (To). Departure time (departure) and arrival time (arrival).

First of all, the train schedule for Sri Lanka on the main line: Colombo, Badulla, Matale, Kandy, Matara. Other intercity express services, coast, east, north, Puttalam side, Kelani valley line.

How to buy a ticket in Sri Lanka

Cars are divided into first, second, and third class.

You need to buy a first class train ticket in Sri Lanka in advance.

One month or several weeks before the planned trip. The earlier, the more chances you have of getting a ticket. The first class is sold out in a flash. For a trip on the same day, it is possible to only get into second and third class.

Not all trains have first class cars.

How to book a ticket

You can only buy tickets in Sri Lanka. And only through "live" cash registers. No online booking. You cannot book by phone either. This applies to tickets for vehicles of any class and direction.

Railroad map

The map shows the main train stations (major cities and resorts). And also the train schedule from Sri Lanka.

Traveling by train: which resorts to visit


During the 2004 tsunami, most of the railroad was washed away by the wave. The south side of the coast waited about 10 years for renovation. Trains went partly to the central and eastern part of the country. At the moment, the work of the railway in Sri Lanka is fully restored.

You can reach most of Ceylon’s resorts and attractions by train.

  • This is the entire south coast of the island - beautiful beaches and the Indian Ocean.
  • You can visit the highland part and - Kandy, Nuwara Eliya (center of the country).
  • Take the train to Jaffna (north).
  • Get to know the historical part of Sri Lanka - ancient cities, ruins, temples - the city of Polonnaruwa.
  • Visit the seaside resorts of Batticaloa and Trincomalee to the east.

Route Nuwara Eliya - Ella - attraction of the island

A pleasant way to explore the mountainous part of the island is to buy tickets for the Nuwara Eliya - Ella train.

According to National Geographic, the views along this route are some of the most beautiful in the world!

The travel time is 3 hours.

The paths are laid through the mountains, the hills are planted with tea bushes, the train travels through the jungle. If you have time on vacation, you should definitely visit this part of the island!

Detailed route from different points in Sri Lanka.

To get to Nuwara Eliya from the airport, you must first go to Colombo. Buy tickets for the Colombo - Kandy - Badulla train from Colombo Fort Station. This train goes through Nuwara Eliya and Ella.

Take the train to the beach

It is possible to take a train (all seaside resorts are marked on the map). If you are going on a trip in the autumn and winter months (November to April), it is well worth a visit. It's high season.

Kilometers of Hikkaduwa beaches and swimming with turtles, cozy Unawatuna beach without waves, whale safari in Mirissa, quiet Koggala, the famous fort in Galle. Over 30 beaches accessible by train.

In the summer months it is best to visit East Batticaloa, Trincomalee.

Historical and architectural monuments in Colombo-Kandy

In the direction of Colombo-Kandy you can get to know a multitude of sights of Sri Lanka. Besides the way to Kandy, there is something to see near the city:

  1. Before reaching Kandy - Pinnawella station. There is an elephant kindergarten in Pinavelle.
  2. Temple of the Tooth Relic in Kandy.
  3. Spice garden.
  4. Museum of History of Buddhism and National Museum of Kandy.
  5. Alagalla - 26 km from the city.
  6. Peradeniya Botanical Garden - 6.5 km from Kandy.

There is a direct train from Colombo to Kandy. The travel time is 3 hours. The Colombo-Matali train stops in Kandy.

Colombo-Putallam - northwest of the country

You can also get to the northwest side of the island by train. Beach resorts of Marawila, Negombo and Chilau. Near Putallam is the village of Kalpitiya, where you can go surfing and kiting.

Pollonaruwa, Batticaloa, Trincomalee - East

Pollonaruwa is the medieval capital of Sri Lanka. Here you can visit the ruins of the royal palace and the council hall, see the statue of King Parakramabah, the remains of the royal library. Visit the 11th-century Hindu temple Shiva Devale and see the ancient lotus pond that houses Tiwanka's frescoes. And much more.

The seaside resorts of Batticaloa and Trincomalee are worth a visit in the summer months of June, July and August. This is the time of year in the eastern part of the island.

  1. Buy premium tickets 30 days prior to your expected travel date.
  2. Combine all types of transportation to get to the resort faster and more comfortably: taxi, tuk-tuk, bus, train.
  3. Try not to get into rush hour - the cars will be crowded.
  4. Buy express train tickets so you don't waste time on the road. In contrast to the express, the local train stops in every village.

Sri Lanka's large island, covering an area of ​​65,000 km² by one penny. Almost as big as Lithuania or Georgia.The mileage from north to south is 445 km, from west to east 225 km.

Most of the territory is occupied by coastal plains. The central part of the country is called Up Country because it is mountainous. The largest peak is the mountain Pidurutalagala (2524 m).

First of all, we decided to travel through this area. See both north and south and center. And down country and up country. Mountains, beaches and jungles.

As a result, we were able to see part of it. Not as global as we swung, but we still have a lot of impressions and useful experiences. For example, we learned how convenient it is to get from point A to point B.

For those who can afford to rent a car, everything is easy. There is no problem with that in Lanka.

On a budget, you can explore the island by bus or train.

The fare here is worth a penny compared to our prices. (For example, we drove in second class from Gampola to Nanuoyu 80 km, 3.5 hours for only 46 rupees per person. This is 10 UAH or 25 rubles.) Therefore, Sri Lankans can easily afford to travel through their country to travel. Many take the train to work and school. Because it is easy and quick to transport.

Traveling by bus is sometimes faster, sometimes it is necessary when there are no rails in the area. Buses in Lanka are a special issue. I will write about this separately.

And this article will focus on trains in Sri Lanka.

Sri Lanka Railway. Useful facts

The Sri Lanka Railway comprises nine lines. All lines converge at the Central Station - Colombo Fort.

1st coast line (Colombo Fort to Mathra, ongoing work to Katharagama)
2. Kalani Velley Railway Line (Colombo Fort to Avissavella)
3rd main railway line (currently only Colombo Fort to Kilinochichi, soon to Kan Kasanthurei)
4. Highland Railway Line (Colombo Fort to Badulla)
5. Puttalam Railway Line (Colombo Fort to Puttalam)
6. Mathale Railway Line (Peradaniya Junction to Mathale)
7. Batticalo Railway Line (Maho to Batticola)
8. Trinco Railway Line (Galoya Junction to Trincomalee)
9. Mannar lineage (Medawachchiya after Mannar)

To find out the timetable, you can download an Android application called Sri Lanka Railway Schedule. Or online at this link. There you can find out the mileage and the number of driving hours at the same time. There used to be prices, but now that feature has been removed for some reason.

In the picture you can see where each line starts and ends and what line it intersects with. This feature can help you figure out where to do transfers to get to the right place.

Train types

For very long journeys, there are special high-speed night trains with berths.

Trains with only seats are the most common.

There are long-distance trains with 1st, 2nd and 3rd class cars.

There are trains with 2nd and 3rd class cars.

And very little stupid trains with only 3rd class cars. This is for short distances.


1st class, asleep... 1st class, sleeping car available on several night trains. The compartment for 2 people is closed, there is a toilet and a washbasin in the compartment. Bed linen is provided.

1st class, overview... 1st class, observation car. It is available on the most beautiful day trains on the amazingly beautiful route from Colombo to Kandy and Baddull.

1st class, air-conditioned, seating... There are only one or two InterCity Express trains between Colombo, Vavunia and Batticaloa.

We didn't go first class as tickets for that are bought and reserved in advance. This can be done either at the box office at Colombo train station or on the Internet. Somehow everything was too confused so I'm not going to talk about what I don't know. If I find out I will definitely write.

2nd Class available with reserved and unreserved places. These cars are separate. That is, one or more cars are specially reserved for those who have reserved seats. Usually these cars are not labeled in any way. Hence, you have to look for trial and error.

To buy a ticket with a reserved seat, you need to buy it either at the Colombo box office or on the internet. So if you are buying a 2nd class ticket for today and it is not in Colombo, you need to know that you are getting into a car with unreserved seats. If you are not nimble enough, you will most likely need to get up.

The second class cars look pretty decent inside. There are two nice, clean toilets. There are seats for two people one after the other. The seats are soft, big, comfortable and in my opinion adjustable.

3rd grade -most popular among Sri Lanka. It's different inside. Or like in our subway car. Long benches on the walls. Sometimes hard, sometimes enveloping. It happens that the seats for 2-3 seats face each other in pairs.

These cars are usually very full and not as clean as 2nd class, but not dirty either. It's always cool in cars like this, the train goes fast, with the windows and doors open.

This photo shows an almost empty car. Often times the cars are so full that people hang out outside. And the doors are always open when it's not raining. Nobody really cares. A common daily practice. We also liked to drive near the doors. It's cool and you can see the views.

Someone goes to work in a suit, white shirt and polished shoes. Someone goes to school, college, just doing their business. It doesn't matter how someone is dressed. Everyone squeezes into the train at lightning speed, overtakes and pushes, just like our public transport, only faster. It was the case that some particularly cunning ones climbed into the windows to take their places.

Here, as in our subway, beggars, food sellers, all kinds of books and bags run around the carriages. Great place to make some extra cash.

Musicians with drums often drop by. And they just play without asking for money. You look decent. I just like to play, I think.

Tourists rarely travel in third grade. But we tried on purpose because we wanted to see how the local people live. And we liked it. Then they usually traveled in third grade for short distances. Passengers from Sri Lanka always viewed us as aliens)) They looked, sometimes even gave way.

Train stations

In small settlements the stations are the simplest. Cashier's booth and shed with bank. And a platform.

If there are more platforms, it is important to clarify in which direction and from which platform your train is leaving. There are no signs on the trains, everything is advertised in Sri Lanka so it is very difficult to guess yourself. You can ask a specific person or a ticket collector. Sometimes someone who is waiting comes up to you and asks where you have to explain everything.) The Lankers are the contact persons. It is very interesting for them to communicate with pale people.

At large stations, for example in Fort Colombo, there are many platforms that you have to reach via the passage above. It is better to arrive early and check with several people as to where your train is arriving. If everyone is saying the same thing then you are right there.


Your tickets are very fun. Such rectangular cardboard cards, on which the direction, class and price are printed. Tickets are not checked at the entrance or in the cars (except for those that are reserved). There are no controllers. But when you arrive, an uncle is standing at the exit of the station and picking up the tickets. A fine will be imposed if you have lost or did not purchase.

Which train and which class should you choose?

Getting around Sri Lanka by train is very convenient and quick. And not as hot and loud as on the bus.

Of course, if you have to travel more than 8 hours it is better to choose a high-speed night train with berths.

To travel on scenic routes (this is any route in the mountains or on the coast along the coast), it is better to take a ticket with a reserved seat in second class or first class. Because the mountain and coastal routes are breathtakingly beautiful and worth being admired in comfort.

In third grade, you can easily cover a short distance. The rush hour is usually 6-10 a.m. and 7 p.m., and the rest of the time there aren't that many people.

Trains are the cheapest, safest, and most convenient way to get around Sri Lanka. From Fort Colombo, the main train station, travelers can take trains to various locations on the island. You can take the train to the main locations in Sri Lanka.

History of the Sri Lanka Railway

The Sri Lanka Railway was conceived in the 1850s as a tool for the development and unification of the country. The groundbreaking for the construction of the railways in Sri Lanka was cut in August 1858 by Governor Sir Henry Ward. The first railway in Sri Lanka was built by the British in 1864, and the first train ran along it on December 27, 1864. We are talking about the Colombo - Ambepuss line. This line was officially opened to traffic on October 2, 1865. The railroad in Sri Lanka was expanded, and in 1927 the total length of railroad tracks on the island was 1,530 km. The main line was gradually expanded: 1867 to Kandy, 1874 to Navalapitiya, 1885 to Nanu Oya, 1894 to Bandarawela and 1924 to Badulla. The remaining lines were completed over time to connect other parts of the country. These were the Matale Line in 1880, Coast 1895, the Northern Line in 1905, the Mannar Line in 1914, the Kelani Line in 1919, the Puttalam Line in 1926, and the Batticaloa and Trincomalee Line in 1928.

The Sri Lanka Railway was originally built to transport coffee and tea from the land of the hills to Colombo, where goods were exported and the main source of income for many years. However, as the population grew, so did passenger traffic, and in the 1960s, the railways began adding huge sums of money to the treasury.
Currently, the Sri Lanka Railway is mainly engaged in the transportation of passengers, particularly on commuter trains to and from Colombo. Thanks to the trains, serious traffic jams in the Colombo area can be avoided.

Sri Lanka railway map

You have already met the short story Railways of Sri Lanka. Now is the time to see what the island's rail network is currently like. Below is a map of the Sri Lankan Railways that will help you understand which key locations can be reached by train.

Train names in Sri Lanka

Some trains in Sri Lanka take their name from the Ceylon Government Railway. These moves are presented below:
Udarata Menike (Virgin Hinterland Country) - Walks between Fort Colombo and Badulla
Podi Menike (Little Maiden) - connects Fort Colombo and Badulla
Tikiri Menike (Little Maiden) - Walks from Fort Colombo to Hatton
Senkadagala Menike (Virgin "Senkadagala") - walks between Fort Colombo and Kandy
Yal Devi (Princess / Queen of Jaffna) - walks between Fort Colombo and Kankantauriu via Jaffna
Udaya Devi (Princess / Queen of the Rebellion) - Runs between Fort Colombo and Batticaloa
Rajarata Rajina (Queen of the Land of Kings) - Walks between Vavunia and Matara through Fort Colombo
Ruhunu Kumari (Princess "Ruhuna" - southern province) - runs between Colombo (Maradana) and Matara
Samudra Devi (Queen of the Oceans) - walks between Colombo (Maradana) and Galle
Galu Kumari (Princess Galle) - runs between Colombo (Maradana) and Matara
Sagarika (the name of the ocean in Sinhala) - runs between Colombo (Maradana) and Galle
Muthu Kumari (Princess of Pearls) - runs between Panadura and Chilaw

Special trains in Sri Lanka

There are also some special trains in Sri Lanka including:
Viceroy Special - runs between Colombo and Badulla (steam tour train)
Bradby Express - Runs between Colombo and Kandy

Types of wagons on trains in Sri Lanka

Trains in Sri Lanka have several car classes. When planning a trip to Sri Lanka by train, understand the key differences between these cars.

1st class sleeping car: First-class berths are only available on a few night trains.
1st class car with a large window: These cars can only be found on the best daytime trains that make the scenic Colombo to Kandy and Badulla route. Typically, such a car is in the back of the train (or sometimes directly behind the locomotive) and has comfortable seats across from a large window.
1st class car with air conditioning: only available in one or two trains.

2nd class car: Available on all trains. Such cars have several versions, depending on the train:
Not reserved places... You buy a ticket, get on the train and choose a free seat.
Reserved places... When you book your ticket you will get your own seat.
Reserved sleeping places... Available on most night trains.

3rd class carriage: Available on most trains. They have the same versions as the 2nd class cars, that is, unreserved seats, reserved seats, and reserved berths.
The 3rd class cars are very basic and usually crowded so tourists are not recommended to travel in such cars. We recommend choosing 2nd class cars. However, if you're willing to spend more money, you can travel in a 1st class car.

Train schedule in Sri Lanka

Railways There are quite a few trains running in Sri Lanka, so it would be correct to check the timetable of a particular train on the Sri Lanka Railways official website. The address of this website is
On this website you will not only find the train schedule, but also information on ticket prices and other useful information.
However, if you need a more or less complete train schedule in Sri Lanka, you can see it below. Even so, I reiterate that it is advisable to check the current train schedule on the Sri Lanka Railways official website. Trains in Sri Lanka leave on time in most cases and arrive on time at the terminus. But as in other countries around the world, there are transport delays here.
Don't forget to enlarge the picture on the original so you can see the whole schedule clearly.