TV Times

‘Viceroy Special’ rolls on the track for 25 years

By Sanath Weerasuriya

Viceroy Luxury steam Train, popular charter operation on tracks in Sri Lanka, will be celebrating its 25 years service to the Sri Lankan tourism industry.

February 2nd marks a special day for Sri Lanka Tourism when the Viceroy Luxury Steam Train celebrates its 25th anniversary with a journey from Colombo Fort to Rambukkana. ‘Viceroy Special’ is owned by Sri Lanka Railway and Managed my JF Tours.

To mark this special event and to recognize the contribution of ‘Viceroy Special’ to Sri Lanka Tourism, Sri Lanka Post will be issuing five commemorative stamps on Wednesday, 2 February in Rambukkana Station.

The ‘Viceroy Special’ is a 75 year old locomotive train and the only steam train still in operation in Sri Lanka. The train has two air-conditioned observation saloons furnished in period style, with 64 plush reclining seats and individual adjustable tables and a restaurant car.

Throughout the journey, a trained qualified guide describes the features of the journey backed by suitable music. The restaurant car is elegantly furnished with Edwardian ribbed fans and teak-trimmed wood paneling which has a fully equipped kitchen and a bar.

The Sri Lankan Railway came into operation during the British Era in the 19th century with the main purpose of transporting commodities specially tea from the up country plantations. It then expanded to many points in Sri Lanka and passenger transportation. The railway continues to be main transportation mode until today.

‘Of the journeys to many parts of the island, passengers experience panoramic picturesque views in their 290 kilometer journey to Badulla. This steam engine ‘Viceroy Special’ was introduced as a unique tourism product 25 years ago to offer the visitors and specially tourists a true experience of a journey of colonial times with a modern and relaxing comfort. ‘Viceroy Special’ is one of the few remain steam locomotives in the world’ said Hemasiri Fernando, the Chariman of JF Tours.

The 'Viceroy Specia' has come a long way making a tremendous contribution to Sri Lanka tourism with popular trips to Pinnawala, Kandy, Hill country as well as the west coast to the beach resorts. The steam – hauled train is passenger friendly to stop on request for guests to photograph scenic spots. Some even opt to take a ride in the engine driver’s cabin.

This product celebrate at a time Sri Lanka tourism has recorded highest arrivals after the Government led by President Mahinda Rajapaksa eradicated terrorism in the country permanently and the authorities are focusing the marketing efforts to attract high end clients into the country. 'Viceroy Special’ is one product that will entice the up market tourists into the country in the coming years; said Dr. Nalaka Godahewa, the Chairman Sri Lanka Tourism.

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