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Published by membersonly, 2018-04-11 06:04:52


14th April 2018

April 2018 - BLNI Extra 39 India and Sri Lanka

[D24] India – Visiting the Darjeeling Himalayan Railway

Our member left from Heathrow with some other participants, with others travelling from other UK
and Irish airports to Dubai on different Emirates flights before continuing at 02:00 to Kolkata, where
they arrived bright and early at breakfast time on Thursday 1 February. After clearing security and
immigration they were met by the tour leader, Fuzz Jordan. Neither of the two Steam Railway staff
who had been advertised to join the tour were able to appear, apparently for magazine production
reasons, although one would have thought that the four weekly schedule would have been known
last year when the trip was advertised.

Some people took the 10:35 flight to Bagdogra for some additional photography, but most of the
group spent the day in Kolkata with a short vintage tram ride on tram 222 in the afternoon to the
Syhambazar turning circle preceded by some local sightseeing. The return tram ride was partly contra-
flow along a one-way street which was fun if you appreciate Indian driving (hair raising otherwise),
which by UK standards is very aggressive!! Some of the group then took a trip on the Metro, reaching
both ends of the line via Dumdum (where some services terminate, so they had to change trains to
go on to Noapara, from where they travelled to Kavi Subhash at the other end of the line. Journey
time is about an hour end to end, and they were fortunate enough to travel in all three classes of unit:
1002, 2009/16 and 3010 being the units taken. The first batch were built by ICF in 1984 and are not
air-conditioned, as are the second batch from 1990. The final batch of 13 are air-conditioned and
were built in 2010.

Wikipedia reports that the Kolkata Metro currently consists of one operational line of 27.22 km from
Noapara to Kavi Subhash with five other lines in various phases of construction. The Kolkata Metro
was the first metro railway in India, opening for commercial services from 1984. On 29 December
2010, Metro Railway, Kolkata became the 17th zone of the Indian Railways, operated by the Ministry
of Railways. There are 300 metro services daily carrying over 650,000 passengers making it the second
busiest metro system in India. Electrification is 750v dc third rail.

After dinner, the group transferred in the early evening to Sealdah station to catch the Darjeeling Mail
at 22:05 for the overnight journey to New Jalpaiguri which is the start of the Darjeeling Himalayan
Railway DHR). Although called a sleeper the lengthy formation includes both seating coaches and
what we in Europe would call couchette cars, with four to a compartment in first class, roughly ten of
each type of vehicle. Motive power was 40024.

The sleeper was due to arrive in New Jalpaiguri at 08:00 on Friday 2nd but when our membery awoke
it was running late and arrival was at about 09:30, after which they were met and taken to their hotel
in Siliguri for a late breakfast and check-in. That afternoon the group enjoyed a rare charter train
over the lowest section of the DHR line then back into New Jalpaiguri. The empty stock was first seen
passing through the Siliguri bazaar and it was possible to take photographs at one of the DHR's iconic
locations with the train passing within inches of the shops.

Passing through the market in Siliguri

The group then travelled from Siliguri Town into New Jalpaiguri. Siliguri Town station was the original
lower terminus of the DHR. On arrival at New Jalpaiguri the steam locomotive (01, of 2004) had to
run round the two coaches (118 and 149) and this was the first derailment (of what turned out to be
four!). After a lengthy wait diesel 603 was sent to rescue them and they were then able to enjoy
their dinner (sent from our hotel) on board with the first of many bottles of Kingfisher beer.

On Saturday 3 February the group returned to Siliguri Junction for a charter train with steam
locomotive 782 (built by Sharp Stewart in Glasgow in 1899) and coaches 105 and 118. The charter
headed for Tindharia, where they had a visit to the DHR's main workshops. As with most of the other
steam charter days, one of the road vehicles ran alongside the train with around a dozen
photographers taking the opportunity to take pictures of the charter, although like other days it was
quite misty for most of the journey. That evening the two road vehicles returned the group to the
Siliguri hotel.

The following day (Sunday 4th) the group left the hotel with their cases and the road vehicles took
them to Tindharia, where the charter (again with 782, 105 and 118) duly set off for Darjeeling. There
was an opportunity to photograph the train passing through the bazaar in Kurseong, another iconic
photographic location.

Diesel hauled local service

At Darjeeling the group stayed for three nights at The Windamere. This historic hotel was once the
preferred watering hole for the British tea-planters in the area and only offers accommodation on a
full board basis - dinner, breakfast, lunch and high tea! Unfortunately, the locomotive became
derailed (perhaps through speeding, perhaps bad track) and the up-service train, which was not far
behind, was used to try (unsuccessfully) to pull the charter back onto the rails. This unfortunately
made the situation worse and the road transport was summoned to take the group on to Darjeeling.

The second derailment

All was sorted out by the local staff overnight. They seem well used to sorting out such eventualities....
Monday 5th was primarily a photographic freight charter up from Sonada to Darjeeling with 802 as
motive power and vans 583, 576 and 589.

Darjeeling station

Darjeeling loco shed on a misty day

At Ghum one of two similar open bogie bolster wagons (675) was attached and many of the group
chose to ride back down to Darjeeling in this, arriving in good time for high tea.
On Tuesday many of the party opted to take the morning Joy train hauled by 792 (with coaches 109
and 128) between Darjeeling and Ghum, which gives sufficient time in the layover before returning
to visit the DHR museum above the railway station. This museum has a wide variety of photographs
and other small artefacts from the railway. Outside is Baby Sivok of 1881 and some wagons. After
lunch the afternoon was free, and some of the group walked around to the Ropeway. This has
reopened recently after a lengthy closure following a fatal accident and by UK standards still looks
antiquated. Apart from this the countryside was shrouded in cloud so even if they had ridden it they
would not have seen much of the tea plantations.

The ropeway is a popular tourist destination in the town. It consists of sixteen cars and plies between the "North Point" in the
town of Darjeeling and Singla on the banks of the Ramman river.

The group left Darjeeling on the 7th and some used road transport to Kurseong whilst others took the
08:35 service train which was diesel 603 with coaches 146 and 158. From Kurseong the charter train
(hauled again by 802 but now with coaches 802 and 111) travelled through Kurseong bazaar and back
up to Sonada. From here road vehicles transferred the group to Siliguri and back to the Cindrella
hotel for two more nights. The first evening saw an Indian wedding in several large tents in the
courtyard near the entrance - fortunately the music stopped around 22:30 although our member
gathers that partying went on all night.

Thursday 8th February saw the last DHR charter train from Siliguri Junction to Kurseong and this
featured derailment number four. Our member and most other participants stayed for the follow up
culture tour with two nights in Agra to see the Taj Mahal and the Red Fort there, with a hurried visit
to the Delhi national railway museum on their way to Delhi airport for their evening Emirates flights
home via Dubai. Others enjoyed more photography and flew home that evening. On Friday 9
February the remaining members of the group went by coach to Bagdogra airport for the scheduled
late morning Indigo flight to Delhi, which was over four hours late. At Delhi the coach then got caught
in rush hour traffic so the 200km journey south to Agra for a two night stay took a lot longer than
planned with arrival at 23:05 (although the restaurant kindly stayed open for dinner). The visit to
the Taj Mahal and Red Fort were both worthwhile and recommended.
Saturday morning was spent driving back to Delhi and there was a brief (circa 90 minutes) visit to the
museum that afternoon. Roughly double that time would have been preferable in order to study all
the exhibits at some leisure. The museum website shows the layout and the locomotives there.
Many are reasonably placed for photography, if you ignore the locals posing on them for pictures,
despite the signs asking visitors not to climb on the exhibits. The narrow-gauge line was running and
some of the group took a ride.

Narrow gauge railway at Delhi Railway Museum

The entrance tickets not valid but offering some money avoided them having to alight and find the
ticket office. The miniature railway was also running, but our member did not ride this due to lack of
time – though some photographs were taken. The monorail was also photographed but did not
appear to have run recently.

[D25] India – Delhi Metro line 7 opens

Delhi Metro Rail (DMRC) has opened a new metro line between Majlis Park and Durgabai Deshmukh
South Campus station. Line 7, dubbed the Pink Line, is equipped with the Bombardier Cityflo 650
driverless rail control technology. It is 59km long and has 38-stations. It will connect with all six of the
DMRC network’s existing lines. Over a period of two months, five new interchange stations have been
added to the network. In December last year, two interchange stations were added as part of the
opening of the Botanical Garden to Kalkaji Mandir section of Line-8, the Magenta Line.

[D26] India – News from the sub-continent

The 309 km Nadikudi-Kalahasti railway line, envisaged as an alternative freight route to the Kazipet-
Vijayawada and Vijayawada-Gudur-Tirupati, Chennai grand trunk route will decongest the busy
Chennai-Howrah line passing through the coastal region which is also very vulnerable during cyclones.
The new railway connects Nadikudi railway station on the Secunderabad-Guntur railway line with
Srikalahasti in Chittoor district located on the Gudur-Katpadi railway line.With most of the land
acquisition done, the electrification of the Guntur-Nandyal section is in progress and should be
complete by December, 2018. The electrification of the Guntur-Pagidipalli railway line is expected to
be completed by February, 2019.

Sixty years after the first electric train of the Eastern Railway (ER) departed from Howrah station
(Calcutta), a commemorative run of the historic event was held on 13 December 2017 with a EMU
local train. The then Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru had flagged off the first train. This time the
commemorative run of the decked up green and yellow coloured train was flagged off by Swapan
Kumar Modi and Shekhar Chattopadhay, the eldest guard and driver respectively in the zonal railway.

A trial run on a 190km Dedicated Freight Corridor (DFC) was successfully held in late March with
speeds of 100km/h being achieved. This was on the western part of the corridor between Ateli and
Phulera – the trial run on the eastern corridor of DFC was carried out in March 2016. The 3,373-km
DFC, a flagship project of the Railways, aims to augment rail transport capacity to meet the growing
requirement of movement of goods by segregating freight from passenger traffic. The Eastern
Corridor of the DFC runs from Ludhiana to Dankuni (1856 Kms) and the Western Corridor from Dadri
to Jawahar Lal Nehru Port, Mumbai (1504 Kms). The Western DFC runs from Jawaharlal Nehru Port
in Mumbai to Tughlakabad and Dadri near Delhi, and aims to cater largely to the container transport
requirements between the existing and emerging ports in Maharashtra and Gujarat and the northern
hinterland. The 1,839 km Eastern DFC runs from Ludhiana in Punjab to Dankuni near Kolkata — to be
extended in future to serve the new deep-sea port proposed in the Kolkata area, and will largely
handle coal and steel traffic.

[D27] India – Former metre gauge line to reopen soon
The former Southern Railway metre gauge line Kollam- Shenkotta -Tenkasi- Tirunelveli- Thiruchendur
was 325 km long and has been progressively converted to broad gauge. The Shenkotta-Thiruchendur
and Kollam-Punalur sections have already been opened for rail traffic, and Punalur to Sengottai
(closed in 2010) is next. For the completed line the first phase will see six passenger trains operating

along the route from Madurai, to Sengottai, Kollam and Tirunelveli. The Express trains will have to
wait for at least six months after the commissioning of the new rail route, for safety reasons. The
trains are expected to take more than two hours to cover 49 kilometres, the distance between
Punalur and Sengottai, as the route is mostly through ghat (mountain) areas. The speed along the
route has been limited to 30 kilometres per hour in the primary phase which will be increased at a
later stage. The railways also has plans to consider the proposal to declare the rail route as a heritage
tourism route, taking advantage of its course through the Western Ghats along the Aryankavu –
Punalur stretch. The major considerations will be nature tourism and heritage tourism as the route
already consists of historical structures constructed by the British. The rail route includes a heritage
13-arch bridge along the 45-kilometre-long railway line from Punalur to Shenkotta, commissioned in
1903. The bridge which is 102.72 metres long and 5.18 metres in height was constructed using the
ancient Surki method by the British. It has now been strengthened using concrete jacketing. The
heritage look will be artificially created by fixing the walls with tiles resembling the old construction

[D28] India – Competition for railway jobs is tough
India's state-run railways reported in March that they have received more than 20 million applicants
for about 100,000 jobs, with more expected ahead of the deadline. Online tests will be held for jobs
in the railway police, locomotive drivers and technicians in 15 languages. Unemployment is a huge
challenge in India where millions are out of work. Officials said they were overwhelmed by the
response to the medium and low-level jobs. "A lot of applicants are overqualified, and even PhD
holders are applying for the technicians job". The Press Trust of India news agency reported that more
than five million people had applied online for the positions of technicians and locomotive drivers
alone. India has one of the largest railway networks in the world, used by around 23 million
passengers daily. Built mostly under British colonial rule, the railway network is the backbone of public
transport. With more than a million workers, India's railways is also one of the world's largest

[D29] India - Mumbai’s Andheri-Goregaon Harbour Line service inaugurated
The much delayed Harbour line extension between Andheri and Goregaon was inaugurated by the
Railway minister on 29 March 2018. This line is likely to cater more than 13,000 commuters every day
between Malad and Andheri stations. A total of 49 services will start from Goregaon and operate
between Goregaon and Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Terminus (CSMT) daily.

[D30] Sri Lanka – PTG Tour February 2018

Typical Sri Lanka station departure board at Maradana

PTG visited Sri Lanka in February 2018 and four BLS Members were in the party of sixteen. Pre-trip
research plus assistance via the Tour Leader confirmed some side trips were also possible, resulting
in the correspondents calculations that 87% of the almost exactly 1,400km passenger network was
covered in the 14½ days in the country, in addition to a few short non-passenger sections included by
PTG. This is a summary of the travels and current service levels by line and in the order visited:-
Colombo Bandaranaike Airport Branch
Has no current passenger service so the tour commenced straight from arriving flights with a railbus
charter covering this 1.5km branch to the junction at Katunayaka South on the Puttalam line and then
onwards into Colombo. The branch is in regular use by Aviation Fuel freight trains.

Colombo – Galle

Frequent service with tracks running alongside or close to the coast for most of the way. The first
42km is double track to Kalutara South and within this a 1km section between Pinnwatta and

Wadduwa splits into single lines by direction to cross the Bolgoda River on separate bridges about
200 metres apart. The main Sri Lankan Railways Works are at the end of a 1km long branch off this
line from just north of Ratmalana station in the southern Colombo suburbs and PTG covered this by
taking the hired T1 Railcar right inside the blacksmiths shop to commence a walking works tour.
Galle – Matara and onwards
The service comprises 10 train pairs on weekdays and 7 at weekends. Galle station is a dead end
terminus with most services hauled by single ended locomotives, so a turntable is used to ensure
short nose leading. Despite this, through Colombo - Matera services are allowed zero minutes at Galle
between arrival and departure so this branch is prone to late running. Construction of a 35km
extension beyond Matara to Beliatta is well under way and the Sri Lankan Railways website states
tthat opening is planned for 2019, but there is no sign of a Galle avoiding curve complementing this
which could only be built with demolition of housing and industrial units. A further 44 km of new line
onwards from Beliatta to Hambantota is planned, with a long term ambition to link around the south
eastern side of the Island to the Batticola line.
Maradana – Avissawella
A 59km branch known as the KV line (Kelani Valley) heading east from Colombo Maradana station,
originally narrow gauge and converted to Sri Lankan broad gauge of 5’ 6” by 5 August 1997.

Colombo suburban DEMU S8 833 approaching Waga station on the Avissawella branch

This line is operated with the commuter flow so in the current timetable from 28 August 2017 a return
trip is only possible from Colombo once per day departing at 08:30 to return by 15:24. PTG chartered
the T1 railcar to do this line but a derailment delayed departure until 12:00. As the journey takes just
under 3hrs each way this meant delays passing the numerous trains leaving Colombo from late
afternoon, so the planned Dematagoda Depot visits took place much later than planned and in the
dark! Legal notices were seen advising of plans to double the line to Udahamulla, with anyone
building on railway land after the notice date of 14 August 2017 not entitled to any compensation.

Avissawella station with railcar T1-515 on Thursday 8th February. The post is miles from [Colombo] Maradana
station where it used to terminate when a narrow gauge line.

Colombo – Kandy
Known as the main line, the 17.4km to Ragama Junction has three tracks, (allowing fast trains to
overtake stoppers), before reducing further at Rambukkana to single to tackle the significant climb
up into the Central Region. 6km from Kandy, the topography means the line onwards to Badulla splits
at Peradeniya Junction, a triangular station with platforms on all three sides with a superb array of
semaphore signals protecting each junction. All three sides see use by passenger services but as per
the Railways beyond Europe and Man at Seat 61 websites, it was confirmed by station staff that there

are no booked calls at the remote south platform on the west to south curve, only accessible by stairs.
The two pairs of daily trains to/from Colombo and Badulla which do not go via Kandy (despite it being
the second city of Sri Lanka) are loco hauled and run via the west to south curve to call at the east
side platform with reversals at the south junction and platform or vice versa! A side trip was necessary
to traverse the third side as the tour only did the two…..
Peradeniya Junction – Badulla
In total there are 5 pairs daily on this mountainous and very scenic line, which includes the highest
point on broad gauge anywhere in the world at 6,226ft near Pattipola.

Peradeniya Junction gantry and station cabin signal box. This is taken on departure from the Viceroy rear car
observation saloon and is of the approach to the station from the Kandy direction on Sunday 11 February. The line
to the South Junction and Badulla is to the left, and the East Junction and Colombo straight ahead.

The line also has a spiral with its tunnel running underneath Demodora station and nearby a famous
nine arch curved stone viaduct where, bizarrely, dozens of tourists were in position to photograph
the next passing train. They were somewhat bemused when the PTG train stopped, participants got
out and it reversed into a nearby tunnel for a run past. Still high in the mountains at Idalgashinna,
the station is on a ridge between two ranges where visibility was clear for miles to the south but
minimal to the north as the village was above the clouds…...

The shed at Badulla, on Saturday 10 February, the end of the line from Peradeniya Junction and 400m beyond the
station, with all roads through leading towards an active turntable and the Sri Uposatharmaya Buddhist Temple
just beyond. The four BLS members either rode on the loco when refuelling or a shunt of the PTG Viceroy special
trains generator van to cover this extra track!

Kandy – Matale

A 30km branch beyond Kandy taking around 1h 20m each way which with a maximum of 6 pairs a day
requires three loco hauled sets. Kandy station is mainly bays with just one platform serving this
branch, so as it was occupied by the 18:45 departure to Matale the groups 18:36 arrival used a parallel
non-platform track to run beyond the station throat before reversing into a bay.

Maho Junction to Goloya Junction and Trincomalee/Batticaloa branches

Through flat jungle, plains (with elephants) or agricultural land, and except for wildlife safaris around
the Galoya Junction area appeared to be well off the tourist trail. The Trincomalee branch is 70km
with only three pairs a day, one being an overnight, the other two worked from the far end. This was
one of the side trips as with PTG help the group hotel minibus and driver were hired by the four
members for a very dark o’clock departure to catch the 06:50 back from Trincomalee to Galoya
Junction, all working to plan in time to re-join the group for its 09:15 departure from Galoya Junction
to Batticola. This side trip train was again a loco hauled service (by a Sri Lankan M2D, recognised by
some as the same GM design better known nowadays as a Bosnian class 661/3 with “ears”) on a very
quiet four coach train. A lengthy container cement train was passed en route, a major industry near

Trincomalee with a short branch also seen at China Bay, apparently serving a small port. The
Batticaloa line has four pairs a day, one again being an overnight to/from Colombo and another pair
a real throwback being shown in the timetable as a mixed service. This was observed in both
directions with the consist being double bogied fuel oil tanker wagons, passenger coaches and a brake
for general merchandise.

Mixed train 6479 booked to arrive at Batticaloa at 13:10, actual arrival time 13:40 on Wednesday 14 February. This
is the same General Motors “Bosnian 661/3” lookalike diesel M2D 628 that had hauled the BLS members side trip
from Trincomalee to Galoya Junction departing at 06:50 that same morning....

It should be noted that Sri Lankan railway maps are incorrect as the Trincomalee/Batticola line joins
the Jaffna line at Maho Junction facing north not south, meaning all through Colombo services need
to reverse here, again under a fine collection of semaphores

DEMU S11 896 arriving at Maho Junction from the south almost on time at 14:16 forming train ICE4017 from
Colombo to Jaffna and Kankesanturai

[Colombo] - Maho Junction to Anuradhapura - Mihintale/Taleimannar Pier/Kankesanturai

The ine to Kankesanturai is known as the northern line as it serves Jaffna, but despite the tracks being
completely renewed with colour light signalling and official reopening north of Vavuniya on 13
October 2014 after the civil war ended, it has only four pairs a day, again including an overnight plus
an extra pair to Jaffna northbound SO, southbound SuO. Anuradhapura to Taleimannar Pier was re-
opened around the same time but with just two pairs a day, one an overnight and again worked from
the branch end, its timings proved impossible to fit in around the PTG group plans.

Neither the printed timetable nor the journey planner showed any services on the 13km branch from
Mihintale Junction to Mihintale and further research revealed that it only sees use on Poson festival
days (with trains apparently running over 10 days) on the relevant full moon date in June each year
by pilgrimage specials. Mihintale is allegedly where a 3rd century BC Sri Lankan King converted to
Buddhism, leading to it becoming the majority faith of the population. The BLS members made a
request through PTG to see if a special could be arranged, but as the track is only made fit for use for
each festival this was declined and going past Mihintale Junction the line was totally overgrown - the
rails could just be seen. As an alternative to the PTG cultural visit to the Mihintale Temple, a side visit
was made to the station which was closed up, comprising a large station building with long platform
with an apparently out of use run-round loop, disconnected at the station end. A commemorative

plaque on the station stated that it had been officially opened on 26 May 1993. The Poson festival is
on 27th June this year but elsewhere on the internet suggests specials also run around the Vesak
Festival Full Moon day in May. This is on May 29th in 2018 so one to keep an eye on for Railways
Beyond Europe website updating.

Colombo – Puttalam - Noor-nagar - Periynagavillu

A heavily used DEMU commuter line heading north along the coast with a frequent service tapering
away the further you go from Colombo as only 4/3/2 M-F/S/SuO service reach Puttalam, one of which
is a mixed diesel hauled service. Pre-trip research discovered 2/1/1 pairs continued one stop and
1.5km further north to a station named Noor-nagar, but intriguingly this was not the end of the line
which continued for over 20 km’s further north to some quarries near Periynagavillu. Further
enquiries established the section beyond Noor-nagar is privately owned and even though PTG and
the local Sri Lankan Agents made strong requests to take the T1 Railcar onto this line, this was declined
as allegedly there is no intermediate signalling so a round trip taking over 4 hours would interrupt
scheduled freight services which comprise raw materials from the quarries to the Holcim cement
works located on a 4.5km freight branch from Palavi Junction, 4.7km south of Puttalam. Indeed on
the Saturday of the PTG visit a freight worked south through Puttalam by a non Sri Lankan Railways
locomotive, and only then could their train proceed to the scheduled passenger limit on this line as
an addition to the originally advertised PTG Itinerary. At Noor-nagar a private owner only beyond this
point board was clearly visible.


All of Sri Lanka’s railways are diesel operated with many loco hauled services, (nine different classes
were had for haulage during the visit), with DEMU’s with longitudinal seating for local services around
Colombo, or much newer air-conditioned versions for some long distance services, plus bus bodies
on rails for limited rural shuttles, labelled “baby trains” in the timetable. Lines are mostly single track,
with large gaps in frequency on many lines and lengthy journey times as speeds rarely exceed 40kmh
with frequent stops. The country ambiance is perhaps described as Indian without the noise and
nobody rushing around, with very little poor quality shanty housing and locals and hotel staff
positively friendly towards visitors so the group felt perfectly secure at all times in all places. In saying
that the groups Singhalese Guide expressed personal concerns on going to the far North Tamil area
and there has been recent press coverage of incidents on Muslims, so some undercurrent remains,
but no concerns were felt within the group as foreigners, even at the heavily militarised zone at the
Kankesanturai line end beyond Jaffna when venturing away from the station for a paddle in the Bay
of Bengal…. Therefore it is confidently stated that travelling individually appears perfectly safe,
(although overnight travel is apparently not recommended) and numerous westerners were seen on
timetabled trains, especially on the routes to Galle and Badulla. Apart from commuter services around
Colombo no trains travelled on were seriously overcrowded, fares are ridiculously cheap, (no rover
ticket needed), and all train notices and departure boards (with manually set hands on clockfaces to
showg the next departures) at major stations contained English which is widely spoken. Unlike India,
tickets sold are not limited to the number of train seats on long distance services but those in 2nd class
including overnights can be reserved. The timetable book (150 Rupees so about 70p) was difficult to
obtain but there is a Sri Lankan Railways website including a journey planner

but for point to point enquiries it only gives through trains, so additional journey possibilities can be
found by splitting the journey. Punctuality can be an issue, worst examples seen were 3h 50m and 1h
55m late respectively but there is an extensive national and private bus network which should avoid
becoming stuck anywhere.

The agents PTG use are the long term rail specialists for Sri Lanka and funded the refurbishment and
upgrade of the Viceroy coaches and T1 railcar for private hire by adding modern catering facilities and
air-conditioning and they have an excellent long term working relationship with Sri Lankan Railways
and helped the BLS members via the PTG tour leader with the logistics of their extra track requests.
PTG have already reserved the world famous Viceroy with its two 1st class rear facing observation
saloons and restaurant car for part of their planned early 2019 visit but this will probably be too soon
to include the new build Matara to Beliatta Iine. Also note that tour is unlikely to be an exact copy of
the 2018 programme which enjoyed the Viceroy for three days to/from Badulla.

A thoroughly recommended railway network and PTG tour in good quality Hotels, even if the
temperature never dropped below 30°C and some of the fascinating tourist site visits required
considerable more step climbing than the “flight of stairs” suggested in the brochure!

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