Railway Stations Improvement Project - Phase I
@ Bandarawela : G 2 - 535 Locomotive Display
History of Sri Lankan railways is almost 150 years now. The establishment of first railway track was started in 1858 due to the numerous persuasions from British planters and the first railway journey in local soil took place on the 27th December 1864 between Colombo Fort and Abeypussa. Good old day’s giant steam engines were the only saviour to haul all types of trains and this situation continued for nearly a century. This started to change into diesel engines in early 50’s due to various reasons. The transformation completed in the latter part of 70’s with the importation of 62 locomotives of four models: M4, M5, M6 and M7 from Canada, Japan, West Germany and Britain respectively within six years. Since then majority of steam locomotives were sold for scrap but few were kept in dumping yards for years.
However, this was changed again in 1986 with the introduction of special steam train Viceroy due to the high demand of foreign tourists but the rest of giant steam loco’s diminished from time to time from the dumping yards. However, at that time no one ever thought of preserving and exhibiting at least one engine from each type or model for the future generations, especially for those who do not have the real experience in travelling in steam trains. However, the situation in other countries is totally different and many developed as well as developing nations who have railways kept these old locomotives well preserved for the future generations and some countries do have masterpieces which are used extensively for tourism. Mostly these types of activities originate through the intervention of volunteers and railway fans in developed countries. For instance in New South Wales state of Australia, there are number of volunteer rail fan groups who maintain private railway yards full of old steam engines and even diesel locomotives while annually conduct steam feasts and Zigzag railway operations in Lithgow, Steam feast of Maitland are few good examples.
In order to fill this gap Sri Lanka Rail Fans Society has put forward a proposal to the current General Manager of Railways, Mr. B.A.P Ariyaratne. He rightly has recognized the need of the hour of the suggestion and extended his fullest cooperation. He instructed to launch this project by restoring a diesel Electrical shunting engine of G2-535 which was introduced to the Sri Lanka railways as initial diesel engines for switching purposes of yards in 1951. The General Manager suggested displaying it to the public at the Bandarawela railway station since it is one of the stations which attract local and foreign tourists as well.
This historically significant tourist attractive display was ceremonially opened to the general public by the General Manager of Railways, Mr. B.A.P Ariyaratne on 16th August 2011 at the Bandarawela railway station with the participation of railway staff, members of Sri Lanka Rai Fans Society and general public. During the opening ceremony General Manager of Railways highly appreciated the work done by Sri Lanka Rail Fans Society and instructed them to accelerate next project to put up mini railway museum at Nanu Oya Station There are number of railway technical staff members who worked tirelessly to make this project a success: District Engineer upper division Mr. S. Nihal was in charge of the preparation work of the display site, Locomotive foremen Kandy Mr. R.M.G Mahindasiri is in charge of restoring the locomotive of this project, Locomotive foremen Badulla Mr. N. Wickramage handled the placing and final preparation works of the display and Locomotive foremen of shop 26 Mr. S. Wickramaratne coordinated whole project with the assistance of some members of Sri Lanka rail fans society namely Messers A. K. Kulatunga, Primal Madushanka and locomotive driver Mangala Perera.
Mr. B.A.P Ariyaratne, GMR of the SLR's ceremonially opening the display name board
Opening ceremony : lighting the oil lamp
Address the gathering by Trans Nawalapitiya Mr. Ranasinghe
Address the gathering by Chief Guest Mr. B.A.P Ariyaratne, GMR of Sri Lanka Railways