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The publication titled ‘Ceylon Railway Heritage’ by KAD Nandasena and Vinod Wickremeratne will be launched on May 25 at the HNB Auditorium, 22nd Floor, HNB Towers commencing at 6.15 p.m.

The Authors KAD Nandasena AIES, CMILT (UK) joined the Ceylon Government Railway in 1968 and devoted a 42-year career in the department, relating to Bridges, culminating being appointed Bridge Engineer.  He retired in 2010 and is a consultant for many projects. During his tenure as Bridge Engineer, he successfully upgraded many old bridges to modern requirements enabling heavier trains to travel at a higher speed. He also constructed several new bridges utilising local resources saving much foreign exchange. He worked as a consultant for the conservation of Jetavana and Abhayagiri Stupas, the world’s largest brick-built structures and continues to provide his services to the Central Cultural Fund for conservation projects. He is currently the Chief of the Scientific Committee Fund on Industrial Heritage of the National Trust – Sri Lanka.

Vinodh Wickremeratne has been associated with trains for over fifty years, from a tender age travelling to all corners of passenger served lines and on many industrial lines. He has also walked on all locations where lines had formerly been and where some routes are totally forgotten. He is the Founder and the Secretary of the Model Railroad Club in 1983, the Chairman and a Convener of the Ceylon Railway Enthusiasts’ Circle in 2009, the first Editor of the Lanka Railway Digest established in 2012. He has contributed immensely to popularize Sri Lanka’s railway heritage. He also served as a Consultant in establishing the National Railway Museum and continues to serve as a Committee Member. His other interests include research on Colonial and Vintage matters of Ceylon covering genealogy, classic cars, tram-cars, trolley buses and early transportation business and lifestyles at the turn of the 20th Century. Vinodh was a significant source of information to David Hyatt, who wrote the standard reference ‘Railway of Sri Lanka’. He is currently the Co-chair of the Scientific Committee on Industrial Heritage of the National Trust – Sri Lanka.

‘Ceylon Railway Heritage’ introduces readers to the different facets of the railway and its associated elements in a single publication to create awareness of the unique heritage where the British coffers were enriched substantially in the Victorian era by way of large revenues from the coffee and tea plantations of Colonial Ceylon. It showcased the challenges overcome by the railway engineers of the colonial period, and also the sensitivity with which they planned its execution, safeguarding the scenic beauty of Sri Lanka’s mountainous landscape. It is, indeed, a dedicated testimony to the application of bold and ingenious engineering solutions of the highest order upon the natural landscape with minimal intervention in order to safeguard the rugged landscape of great beauty. The Publication will be available for sale on the day of the launch.

The book launch will be followed by the Lecture # 95 titled ‘The Story of Ceylon’s Railway – A Saga of Over 150 Years’ which will be delivered by Ravindra Ratnapala at 6.30 p.m.
Railways all over the world are fascinating. They have a long and chequered history. The invention of the wheel, development of steam power, building of horse-drawn wagons and the evolution of rail tracks paved the way to establishing a great industry known as the Railway.

Ravindra Ratnapala is a business management professional. He worked for two major tea exporters, one of which was a multinational based in Colombo, and headed the logistics arm of these companies before retiring to establish his own business. His love for travel and fauna and flora, combined with his work involved with the transportation industry, brought about a close link with rail transport in Sri Lanka. He is neither a historian nor an authority on railways, but only an ardent rail enthusiast.

His many rail journeys in foreign lands include ‘The Ghan’ from Adelaide to Alice Springs in Australia, Amtrack’s ‘Lake Shore’ and ‘Southwest Chief’ from New York to Los Angeles, USA and the Darjeeling Narrow Gauge Railway in India. He maintains a blog on railways at www.http://worldontrains.blogspot.com. He is also a keen philatelist and is the immediate Past President of the Philatelic Society of Sri Lanka.