Find out how to book Sri Lankan rail travel from the comfort of your European, Australian or U.S home
Sri Lanka is home to stunning and untouched coastlines, a beautiful lush countryside and magnificent cities. Although the country is on the rise and eagerly improving its road infrastructure, one of the most pleasant ways of travelling around the country remains by train. Train travel is perfect to enjoy the spectacular scenery while someone else does all the driving for you.
Booking tips for ordering tickets outside of Sri Lanka
Sri Lanka has three rail services – the government service Sri Lanka Railways and the two competing privately-run services Expo Rail and Rajadhani Express.
Here are the phone numbers of the respective train stations to enquire about the train timetables in Sri Lanka:
Train Timetable in Sri Lanka
For rates, schedules and train timetable in Sri Lanka visit www.railway.
Yamu has produced this helpful train timetable in Sri Lanka infographic which also is a useful one-pager on the main train travel routes and train schedules across Sri Lanka.
Most government-run trains are divided into the following classes:
If you want to be on the safe side and really pre-book a seat prior to arriving in Sri Lanka, consider contacting a local travel agency but be ready to a pay a service fee on top. The following are some agents to get you started:
Red Dot Tours: Well experienced, excellent reputation. You can book your hotel and reserve tickets at the same time. However it is only possible to book 1st class tickets ahead, 2ndclass on the day of arrival. They require full payment in advance. For further information see http://www.reddottours.
Visit Sri Lanka Tours: Easy-to-follow website navigation. You can book and pay on the spot via PayPal. More here: https://www.
Your hotel: Contact the concierge / reception manager in advance and see if they can arrange the ticket and help with the train timetable in Sri Lanka before you arrive.
Expo Rail and Rajadhani Express are of the high-end variety and offer daily services from Colombo to Kandy & Badulla as well Colombo to Galle & Matara. These air-conditioned trains come with inclusive meals, Wifi & power sockets. The tickets can be easily booked online, just visit www.exporail.lk and www.
Alternatively, network provider Mobitel Sri Lanka offers convenient ticket reservation through your mobile phone for InterCity and Rajadani services. For rates and further information visit www.mobitel.
And for vintage fans – The Viceroy Express
The private Viceroy Express is the only steam locomotivewhich is still in operation in Sri Lanka and offers a luxurious experience which sets you 75 years back in time. The train is chartered and runs therefore not on a fixed train timetable in Sri Lanka. Visit http://www.jftours.com/
Suggested Day Trips
Bring a lot of time as most trips take several hours (and don’t forget your camera!). Three of the most mesmerizing routes are:
1.) Colombo to Galle: this spectacular route runs approx. 120 kilometres and mainly along the wonderful coastal regions to the Portuguese influenced town of Galle in the south.
2.) Colombo to Kandy: start the trip from the bustling city of Colombo along the picturesque mountain regions to the nation’s cultural capital, the UNESCO protected city of Kandy. The slow journey takes you through different climates, from sunny to cloudy and hot to chilly.
3.) Kandy to Ella: this route is considered as one of the most beautiful train journeys in the world. Make sure to secure tickets for the observation car as these are quickly sold out. It’s recommended to book tickets 5-7 days in advance to be on the safe side.
Visit www.railway.gov.lk for up-to-date timetables
A Final Word
It is important that you know where to sit on the train as you may end up sitting on the wrong side just staring at a wall of mountain cliffs instead of rice paddies and tea estates. Be quick to find a seat as trains fill up fast. Worst case scenario: you have to stay for an unknown time. In order to find out what side of the trains offers the best view just approach other travellers who are on the same train or even better, those who just arrived by train.