Sun, sea, and rail

galle train

Most visitors to Galle reach the city by means of an expressway from Colombo. It’s a short journey — 120 km — but the expressway is like any other expressway: boring. A much better option is to catch the express train to Galle.

Soon after landing in Colombo, we reached the Fort train station to catch the 2:45 PM express train to Galle. Because of the large crowds, we made a mistake and jumped onto the Third-Class compartments. There are no First-Class compartments on this train, which is a good thing as this beautiful journey would be marred by air-conditioning. The train has a couple of Second-Class compartments, but we saw them on the way back.

The train route to Galle is dubbed as the “tsunami line”, for it was completely destroyed in December 2004. For six months, there was no service. And then the train tracks were rebuilt — and doubled more recently.

It’s a brilliant journey. As the train slips away from Colombo, the sea reveals itself. At times, the train is five metres away from the waves. I should know: you can feel the sea mist on your face if you have a window seat or are standing at the open doorway.

While India’s Konkan Rail has a record number of tunnels and spectacular views of the sea, I doubt the train comes as close as this one does to the mighty Indian Ocean.

Like an Indian rail journey,there’s plenty of colour, good and chattel, eats, and conversations on board. The cost: a princely 180 Lankan Rupees (Rs 74 in India) for the 120 km journey.

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