National Railway Museum

Sri Lanka has long been known as a global leader in the art of tea manufacturing. All of that effort, however, would have been all for naught if there was no efficient transportation to take the fine products across oceans to global market. This is where the country’s famed railway comes into play, as it was the efficient networks, links and machines of the railway system that allowed for the smooth transportation of tea to the port of Colombo, for shipment onwards to global markets. Taken for granted by many a traveller for the most part, the National Railway Museum of Sri Lanka, located in Kadugannawa, attempts to showcase just how the railway system played and still plays an important role in the economic stability of the country.

Best Known For

  • The National Railway Museum is famed for providing a comprehensive understanding of the importance of Sri Lanka’s railway system that dates back to the first train run, more than 150 years ago, in 1864, with its many exhibits in the form of old engines, locomotives, railcars, old carriages and other machineries.
  • What makes it even more enticing is its unique layout, as the museum is built to the exact style of a typical British colonial era station, making the enthusiast come close to obtaining what commuters of old experienced. Thus making it a treat for many a train enthusiast to learn the significance of the centuries old system.

Interesting Facts

  • The National Railway Museum is one of the more recent museums established in the country, as it was only opened in 2014.
  • Its ceremonious opening came in a timely fashion, as it commemorated the 150th anniversary of Sri Lanka’s first rain run in 1864 that began its journey in Colombo and ended in Ambepussa, carrying the Belgian Duke of Brabant (who eventually became King Leopold II a year later).
  • Presently, the railway museum possesses a great many exhibits relating to the railway system of Sri Lanka, the most popular being the many colonial engines, carriages and locomotives, that readily welcome the railway enthusiast at the entrance.
  • Further accentuating the museum are the many tools and machineries that were used for the construction and maintenance of the railway networks, along with sold signage and equipment.
  • One of the more notable exhibits are the many forms of fire extinguishers on display, highlighting the vulnerability of old steam engines.
  • Another feature of interest that allows the enthusiast delve into the country’s railway history, is the documentary film played by the management in the Chief Engineer’s carriage, making it all the more easier to understand the developments of the system since its inception.

Times, Seasons and Tips

  • The National Railway Museum of Sri Lanka is open daily from 9:00am to 4:00pm (with the exception of full moon Poya Days) and really does not have a season for visitation.
  • Visiting during the morning hours is deemed to be the best time to witness the railway exhibits with ease, as the crowd is generally quite less.
  • Gaining entrance to the museum would cost LKR 500 and please do keep in mind that certain exhibits cannot be photographed by any means, as per the rules of the management. Just inquire from the management on what exhibits can be photographed to be certain.
  • In addition to that please do not touch the exhibits, as many of them are one of a kind and very difficult to replace if tampered with.

In conclusion, the National Railway Museum in Kadugannawa is a one stop station for the hardcore railway enthusiast yearning to understand what really makes Sri Lanka’s railway system just that much more significant.

Title image by: KNOWSL The information displayed is provided by National Railway Museum

Location info



Entrance Fee
LKR 500

Tickets At


Culture and Heritage

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