The International Steam Pages

The Railway Relics of Colombo, Sri Lanka, 2013

Clive Hepworth reports on his February 2013 visit. The first of relatively recent reports was that of Keith Smith in 2009, and this report does not repeat the basic information which was given by James Waite in 2010, so it will make a lot more sense if you consult that simultaneously with reading what follows!


I visited on February 14th.  There were big changes here since 2010 with the 2 narrow gauge shed roads having been removed ready to lay broad gauge tracks to accommodate the new Chinese Class S12 train sets. BG locos 240 (13001) and 213 (Sri Lanka 13002) are dumped, minus boilers in the yard.

The boiler of 211, still with smokebox plates, acts as stationary boiler.

Along the southern side of the shed are 7 NG 4-6-4Ts led by 292, then an unidentified loco, 177, then 3 locos without ID (middle of 3 has coal bunker missing and faces the opposite direction to the others), finishing with a loco carrying cab and bunker plates of 166. This loco was not listed in the 2010 report.

106 is now completely engulfed by vegetation near the coaling stage, only the smokebox and the chimney are visible..

Below the coaling stage stands a decaying broad gauge 4-6-0, could this be 352? It is certainly not the missing 237.

On the coal stage itself are 5 locos, Garrratt 346 and 4-8-0 277plus three Colombo Ports 0-4-STs with only one carrying a number 5..

In the diesel hydraulic running shed, north of the main line, 251 Thomas Maitland was being prepared to run a Viceroy Special to Kandy the next day. The loco had worked the same trip a week earlier.

In Shop 26, Railcar 331 stands amongst dumped NG diesels, while recently restored CPC 0-4-0ST No3 was inside the shops. (This has now been relocated to Rambukkana (very far from the port and the sea) with a 4-wheel coach, which is the same type as the one that is stored here. RD, thanks to Thomas Kautzor for this, 15th December 2014.

Railway Museums

The rather sad railway museum in the old Colombo Terminus building houses CPR tanks No. 2 and 10, plus  diesel Class Y1 727. The NG breakdown crane from the Kelani Valley line is also there. There are virtually no visitors and the staff didn't bother with any admission charge.

At Fort station 135 stands plinthed at the southern entrance. I could find no sign of 237 as described in the 2010 report.

Ratmalana Works

I visited on 18th February.

In Shop 28 there seems to be a restoration section which contained 340 ( carrying the nameplates" Frederick North" from 352) and NG 220. Both locos being repaired for service.

In the scrap line, there are the remains of an unknown locomotive and in the yard behind the "British Shops" was broad gauge 0-6-2T 93.

Little and Large! First is the superb 1 foot 6 inch kerosene-oil fired 4-6-0 loco 001. The loco and 3 coaches are used at exhibitions to promote Sri Lankan Railways while Garratt 347 is in the scrap line slowly being consumed by the vegetation! All plates are still intact on the locomotive.

This is a Tyneside gem, the country's first diesel loco from Armstrong Whitworth D43-1934. Some staff seemed to think that there are proposals for a National Railway Museum "towards Kandy" but felt that would be a long time off.......a pity because there are some gems still around. Finally narrow gauge loco 203 is now plinthed outside the offices of this huge complex that employs 3000+ people.

Rob Dickinson