A Train Trip in Sunny Sri Lanka
Sent in by: Mickey Cooke
A must see of a rail system, that hasn't moved out in the new millenium. Some may remember the stations, the gardens and platforms with flowering plants, tended with pride and care by the station masters!!! Your time could have been set to the passing train.... now sadly an adventure if you are on a race with time!
From: Thurya Owitipana
Sent: Wednesday, 5 November 2008 10:46 PM
Subject: Trip to Badulla....5th trip in 65 days
I successfully completed my night mail trip to Badulla.
Day 1 (Sunday, Nov. 2, 2008)
I took the 1st Nov. night mail to Badulla from Colombo Fort and it left Colombo at 8.15 p.m. as it was scheduled but the journey was very slow. It had 13 carriages and was hauled by M2 627.
At Rambukkana a W3 was attached to the rear of the train as a helper loco. At Gampola the helper was changed to another M6. It was loco 786. Train arrived at Inguru-Oya at 1.45 a.m. with 1 hour delay and the drama began here.
The pusher loco had engine trouble so the train couldn't move. So I got off the train to see what has happen and realized that the last of the 13 carriages (which was a 2nd class intercity carriage) was missing. I cannot figure out know what happened to them but I think they were probably delinked at Peradeniya and taken to Kandy. The train crew tried to repair the engine but they were unsuccessful.
An hour or so later a W3 came along with one old carriage (I think its a local train) It left the carriage there and took the M6 to Nawalapitiya and came back with the M6 788 of the down night mail. (The pusher loco of the down train is normally decoupled at Nawalapitiya)
After all the drama, the train finally left Inguru-Oya at 4.45 a.m. Around 6.00 a.m it arrived Hatton and then I realized that the delay was a fortunate one because I could see all the scenes after Hatton on a cool and clear morning.
At Pattipola, the highest point on the island, the pusher loco was brought to the front of the train. There I heard that they had cancelled a local train from Nanu-Oya to Nawalapitiya and the loco (M5) was taken to Badulla to avoid delaying the Podi Menike since, normally, the Podi Menike has to wait for the night mail to arrive at Badulla to get a loco. So it was a wise move by the SLR (They rarely do....).
At Ohiya we crossed the Udarata Menike. At Ella we met the Podi Menike and our pusher loco was detached and attached to it. We arrived in Badulla at 11.30 a.m. 4 hour and 15 mins late.
A 15 hours and 15 minute train ride.!!!!
Day 2 (Monday, Nov. 3, 2008)
Was fortunate enough to visit a tea factory in Ketawala near Hali-Ela. After that I returned to Hali-Ela around 12.00 Noon. There is a mixed train from Badulla to Kandy. So I went to Hali-Ela Station to catch it. It came with a M5 and I had a ride on it up tol Demodara. After disembarking at Demodara I walked form the bridge to the Station. The up train was late by 1 and half hours so I had to catch a bus to come to Badulla.
Day 3 (Tuesday, Nov. 4)
Nothing was significant in the down journey. A significant factor was that they had attached a post office van instead of a 3rd class carriage to the train. It was not there on Saturday. I think the mail work is only done in weekdays.
At Peradeniya another coach was attached to the tail. (I think its a mail coach). Train arrived Maradana around 5.40 a.m. There was a S10 with colorful gauges in the drivers cabin. It was travelling to Kalutara South but I missed it because I didn't have a ticket to go beyond Colombo Fort.
5 November 2008