Transport in Sri Lanka

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Transportation in Sri Lanka is based mainly on the road network which is centered on Sri Lanka's capital, Colombo. There is also a railway network, but it is largely a legacy of British colonial rule and is less appropriate for the modern transport requirements of the country. There are navigable waterways, harbours and airports, including an international airport, located in Katunayake, 22 miles north of Colombo. The highways and roadways around the capital are in very good condition and are being upgraded.

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Railway network

Sri Lanka Government Railway operates the country‚Äôs railway network, which includes about 1,450 km (901 mi) of track. Colombo is the main node of the network, train routes connect the main cities of all nine provinces in the country.

Most of the railways were developed during the British colonial period, with the first line from Colombo to Kandy opening on 26 April 1867. The British introduced the railway as a cheap means of transporting the goods produced in the British-owned tea, rubber and coconut plantations, situated away from the main port in Colombo. Hence, the legacy rail network was suited for the distribution from plantations.

After independence from Britain, the Sri Lankan economy became focused more on industries than plantation agriculture. The road network also grew, and with the introduction of lorries, which were a faster means of transporting goods, the amount of goods transported by the railways declined. As the railway network is more focused on plantation areas and not on population and service centres, the railways have become an enterprise generating a heavy loss.

The Sri Lankan railway network covers one of the most scenic landscapes in the world, the best of which is the Colombo-Badulla main line which runs hugging the steep mountains of the Sri Lankan highlands. The railways connect the main cities of Kandy, Galle, Matara, Anuradhapura, Gampaha, Negombo, Kurunegala, Avissawella, Kalutara, Polonnaruwa, Batticaloa, Trincomalee, Badulla, Gampola, Nawalapitiya, Matale, Vavuniya, Puttalam and Chilaw with the Capital Colombo. The lines to Jaffna, Kankesanturai and Mannar have been destroyed by the LTTE. There were also narrow gauge lines from Nanu Oya to Nuwara Eliya, Avissawella to Yatiyantota and Avissawella to Ratnapura and Opanayaka, which were dismantled due to financial losses from their operation.

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