The Viceroy Special turns twenty five
Sri Lanka tourism has turned a new chapter with the revival of rail
tourism which has great potential to entice visitors to the nature
The celebration of 25 years of the Viceroy luxury steam train marked
another milestone in rail transportation and tourism in Sri Lanka.
The steam engined Viceroy Special was introduced 25 years ago as a
unique tourism product to offer visitors an enthralling experience of
the colonial times.
The Viceroy Special is the only steam powered train still in
operation with two air-conditioned observation salons and 64 plush
reclining seats and adjustable tables.
The railway was introduced to Sri Lanka by the Britishers in the 19th
century. Despite many shortcomings, it is a popular mode of
Rail tourism will fascinate the nature loving and adventure tourist
with some of the breathtaking views of the country. The exotic beauty of
upcountry plantations and the sandy beaches have mesmerised travellers
from across the world for decades.
Chairman Sri Lanka Tourism, Dr. Nalaka Godahewa said growth in
tourist arrivals will be around 30 percent during the next five years
heading towards the 2.5 million arrival target by 2016.
Sri Lanka tourism revived from a nostalgic past due to the long drawn
out war. The number of arrivals has been on the rise since mid 2009.
Tourist arrivals this year is expected to be around 700,000.
"Sri Lanka tourism believes in quality than quantity for which the
products must meet the expectations of the tourists. The Viceroy Special
will attract visitors and help increase revenue", Dr. Godahewa said.
Chairman, JF Tours and President of the National Olympic Committee of
Sri Lanka, Hemasiri Fernando said the steam-hauled train has come a long
way making a tremendous contribution to Sri Lanka tourism.
"The trips to Pinnawala, Kandy, hill country and the beach resorts
along the west coast on the steam train have captivated visitors", he
The steam powered train is passenger friendly and stops on request
for guests to photograph scenic spots. A guide accompanies travellers
throughout the journey with charming music in the background.
Fernando said Rail Tourism has immense potential in Sri Lanka and
added that steps should be taken to replace old tracks, renovate
stations, upgrade standard of train services and operate more rail
Sri Lanka Railway operates four steam locomotives of which currently
two are under repair.
The steam trains which operate on charters is costly due to the use
of a special coal imported from Indonesia.
"Steam trains will be back on track soon to boost tourism and develop
railway transportation. The locomotives have been operating around 10-15
trips a month", Fernando said.
The first steam locomotive was introduced in Britain in 1805. The
first steam train was introduced to Sri Lanka in 1864. The Viceroy
travelled from Colombo to Kandy for the first time in 1986.