29 May 2009
Railway Tracks and Tunnels
I was an ardent traveler of train and the Colombo - Badulla train was my favorite! The train takes about 10 hours to reach Badulla, which a car would take may be half of that time. Still the railway track goes through the most beautiful sceneries of entire Sri Lanka and I consider that extra time as a bonus.
I loved to see those lonely little stations in the hill country like Demodara and stay a couple of hours in those places exploring how the station master handles the entire operation. One of the most intriguing activities was how he controls railway traffic using the ‘tablet’.
I used to walk along the railway tracks and that was really fun. Sometimes without my knowledge I have walked up to the next station, perhaps passing at least 2-3 miles.
One of the best part of hill country railway is the tunnels. Upto Badulla there are more than 40 tunnels and the longest is the ‘Singimale’ tunnel which is about 1km long. The first tunnel you meet when you travel from Colombo is the one near Ambepussa (between Wilwatta and Bothale stations). Then up to Kandy you would come across another 10 tunnels. The stretch between Ohiya to Idalgashinna alone, the train passes through 14 tunnels! That is the maximum for a stretch between two stations.
Those days Ohiya to Horton hike route was signposted with a tunnel too. First you have to walk towards Pattipola from Ohiya station along the railway track and you have to start climbing to your left from the first tunnel you meet. Unfortunately as per what I have heard, that hiking route is now closed.
This picture of tunnel was taken recently at Kadugannawa. If you want to see ‘Udarata Menike’ train moving into the tunnel, just click here!