My niece from Malaysia, my sister and I made advance booking in the Podi Menike observation compartment to Talawakelle on June 1, 2016 with a return ticket on the same train on June 4, 2016. As we got in at Fort, we found a nauseating smell emanating from the washroom of the observation deck. There was no air conditioner but only fans. The train was to reach Talawakelle at 2.30pm, but it reached at 3.15pm due to a crossing of another train at the Galboda station which normally crosses at Rozalle, a delay of 40 minutes. The platforms at some of these stations are so low that passengers find it difficult to get in and get out, a scene which we saw at Talawakelle. These shortcomings must be remedied. The present coaches (Japanese) are high compared to the English ones of a bygone era.
The return journey was in a first-class compartment as this train had no observation deck. The air conditioner was so high that we had to cover ourselves with sheets which we fortunately carried. The train reached Fort at 7.15pm, a delay of 4-5 minutes. From the extreme conditions of this cool air conditioner we were exposed to the extreme heat of the Colombo climate and we were down with severe cold for the next three days.
The guard of the train is the guardian not only of the train but the passengers as well. It is his duty to see that the compartments and the washrooms are clean and the comforts of the passengers, controlling the air conditioner, etc. My niece was highly critical of this episode. I may mention here that in the 1950s during Mr. R.D. Rampala’s time (The Railways Director) that the trains ran on time and the Railways (CGR) was running at a profit!
Why cannot the present authorities streamline the Railways for the comfort of these train travellers. Like in the west everything should be automated to attract more tourists who wish to travel upcountry to see the hills and valleys which are unique to Sri Lanka.
Make train travel pleasant and comfortable.