Rajadhani Express Review (Kandy – Colombo Intercity)

This is an old post. Please note that the information mentioned here may not be accurate anymore.

I love trains. I travel between Kandy and Colombo using Trains mainly because it’s more comfortable than those dreadful long distance buses. I can’t stand buses since they are cramped, crappy and smelly. I hate those new buses with really tiny windows and cramped seats and I despise air conditioned buses due to their crappy air conditioning, smelly curtains, lack of oxygen and general wildlife (Cockroaches) 🙄

So as a frequent passenger of the almighty train, I was excited to hear about the two luxury compartments that were introduced to the Kandy ICE: Rajadhani Express and Exporail. Priced at LKR 850 (Update: It’s 950 now) and LKR 1200 respectively, it’s quite expensive than the 2nd Class (LKR 220) and 1st Class Observation (LKR 360). Although I was excited, I wasn’t keen about spending that much for a train journey.

I purchased my Rajadhani Express ticket using Mobitel’s Ticket Reservation System (365). Mobitel currently handles the normal tickets and the Rajadhani tickets for Kandy/Colombo. According to their automated message, you can’t purchase Exporail tickets from them. The service charge was 144.50, which was higher than the ordinary service charge. I acquired my ticket from the Mobitel Kandy HQ.

First Impressions
It was good. There was wood everywhere. Air conditioning was perfect. The lighting was nice. The whole interior was clean and spotless. The ambiance was lovely.

Leather Reclining seats. Very comfortable. There’s more than enough legroom and even if the front seat is in a fully reclined position, there would be a lot of room. Armrests are somewhat small and there are only 3 per two seats. 2 for the window side seat and 1 for the other. So you have to share the one in the middle. If the outer seat is moved, it loses one armrest.

Curtains move freely without an issue. There’s a lovely orange glow when sunlight hits them. There was something about the windows I really liked. Maybe they were too clean.

You also get Hot Towels when the train leaves the station 😀 (Update: Not anymore)

The washroom was small, but it’s clean and has all the facilities you would need. Much better than the ordinary ones you usually see.

There are power sockets near all the seats. You can plug your laptop charger if you’re working. Sockets were 5A round pinned ones so if you have a charger with square pins, you’ll need an adapter. I was expecting two sockets but there was only one. So if your fellow passenger also has a laptop you would have to sort it out with a few rounds of bare-knuckle boxing.

There’s a large LCD TV. Items played on it vary. There was a documentary on Kataragama in the beginning. After it ended, there was Gods Must be Crazy II. After that ended, there were some Mr. Bean clips. The volume was inadequate after the documentary. But I would be unhappy if the speakers were blasting movies through the whole journey.

Food and Beverages
The usual baked stuff. Rolls, buns etc. Most people ordered Seeni Sambal buns. I think they microwave them before serving. I just got a cup of coffee for 50 bucks. They also have tea. There were menus on some of the seats. You can ask for one if you want.

They will setup a folding plastic table with a table cloth when your order something, so there’s no chance of spilling anything. Everything’s served properly on clean plates.

Food isn’t included in the ticket price on Rajadhani, but it’s included in Exporail afaik. You’ll get a bill when you’re near the destination.

Other Stuff
It was relatively quiet inside because the windows are all closed. I was expecting something like better suspension for a smoother ride but there wasn’t 😀 The staff is very friendly and you’ll be greeted with smiles most of the time, and I think it’s awesome. They will handle your bags once you’re inside the train and once the journey is over.

There were more people than I expected and almost all the seats were full.

The Rajadhani website (http://blueline.lk) is not good because it’s not functioning properly. Same goes to Exporail. There’s an online ticket booking facility on the Rajadhani site but it doesn’t seem to be working. I couldn’t even create an account there.

The facilities and the service is top notch and it’s very comfortable. Overall a nice experience. But at LKR 950 per journey, it’s just too expensive for someone like me.

An Update: As mentioned in some of the comments, I did experience an air conditioning failure once. Power generators kept failing on another occasion. I hope these issues are fixed now.

41 thoughts on “Rajadhani Express Review (Kandy – Colombo Intercity)

  1. 1st class ticket to Badulla costs less than this as far as I know. 😀

    Though it’s expensive for daily passengers, it’s good to there’s such a cozy thing for travelers. I hope you’d also review ‘Expo Rail’ too. Great post!

  2. Thanks for the info bro… happy to try it out while on the next visit to S.l.

    My dad was a railway employee, we used to travel in ‘Observation Saloon’ when travelling to Badulla, using his free warrants. I am a great fan of Sri Lankan Railways.

    In those days, ‘Observation Saloon’ had a dinning room which was served by ‘Rodrigo Restaurants’ the same people who operated the ‘Buffet Car’ of the train. It was like a posh retaurant.

    Last time I travelled on “Udarata Menike’ the ‘Buffet Car’ reminded me of a third grade hospital canteen.

    1. Im very much agree with your comment and I wonder why the hell this Railway people cannot update them to a certain standard. I felt very bad and very sorry of poor public who use these facilities.
      And, they charge more than two times of usual price in this buffet cabin/ canteen. that is very wrong and poor passengers dosn’t have any other option, so they buy something to eat/ drink from them.
      I complain this to one of a railway master but I couldn’t get any favorable response from him.

  3. I travelled with a party of 4 to Nanu Oya in the Observation Saloon in August 2011. My first impression was like entering a hospital ward. The pynol smell from the toilets that were just flused on surface filled the whole compartment. the seats were dirty to the extent it took a few minutes for me to make up mind whether to sit and stand the whole journey. I had to finally cover the seats with plastic bags that I had before I sat. Whe n the train started moving the pynol smell disappeared with the wind blowing, but the toilet remained unclean which made me travel my inward journey from Nanu Oya to Colombo without using the toilet at all. This was possible by controlling the intake of fluids during the journey. The authorities should really take my comments which is not an exageration, to improve the observation saloon or discard it completely now that you’re starting a new service on Expo Rail. Maintenance is very important with whatever the service that you introduce.

  4. Its nice to hear good and bad about our carriage. As most know it is a operation which is being handled in partnership with Sri Lanka Railways.

    This is the first ever in Sri Lanka and the two companies namely Rajadhani and Expo Rail continuously take trouble to improve on services and facilities.

    So do keep your posts live and do let us know directly on service etc. on info@rajadhani.lk

    Our website is now operational through the payment gateway with an automated ticket issued upon receiving the payment. Improving convenience.


    1. “This is the first ever in Sri Lanka and the two companies namely Rajadhani and Expo Rail continuously take trouble to improve on services and facilities.”

      and adding salt to the wound too… Modifying and cutting of existing carriages meant for general public (purchased using their tax money) which are still in good condition and removing 3rd Class and 2nd Class carriages from Kandy and Badulla trains to add these “Miracles” is highly unacceptable.

      1. This is in response to the comment by Kay Jay on 2012 September 5 at pm 9:16 and is a clarification for the travelers and the general public on this forum.

        We are quite certain that you have not witnessed the condition of the carriages modified by Rajadhani Express prior to the development.

        All of them are 2nd OR 3rd class abandoned carriages which were not in operation for years due to its very poor condition and which was refurbished at the cost of the operator spending over LKR 9 MN.

        We are happy to share some of the images we have with you if we can be provided with an email address.

        1. The point is No. 15595, 15800, 16502 all are Romanian coaches imported between 1989 – 1994 which can be repaired by Sri Lanka Railways by themselves at Ratmalana railway workshop. 16052 is the last Romanian carriage to be imported to Sri Lanka. While those new carriages are given to Rajadhani, general public has to travel in carriages where foot boards are collapsing, water is leaking from roofs and many other failures.

          In 2008 one 2nd class coach was removed from Udarata Menike and Podi Menike trains to bring down the number of coaches to 6 because drivers and guards were claiming that with 7 coaches the locomotives wheels are slipping in sharp gradients in the upcountry line and it will cause delays. These left the Menikes with only one 2nd class coach. But they didn’t have any problem to add private coaches again. Now those two trains have 7 coaches again. (6 SLR + 1 private) But now drivers and guards do not complain because they are bribed by the Expo Rail staff by giving them free meals and tea. Now Rajadhani coach runs almost empty (except weekends and vacations) while 2nd Class ticket holders are packed into a single coach. Also trains are delayed due to wheel slipping and Colombo bound train drivers drives the train in very dangerous speeds between Polgahawela to Colombo to catch up lost time. Sometimes another loco has to be attached to the back of the train if the locomotive is not powerful enough (Good view for the Observation car!!!). Note that all these extra costs are credited to the account of “Mahajanaya”. Rajadhani is only paying First Class ticket fare ONLY for the tickets booked.

          I’m not against a new initiative. Rajadhani and Expo can export their own coaches and run them without kicking out coaches meant for general public (like Matara carriage). But we cannot accept “political gimmicks” to please few rich guys by sacrificing public money and services. Its nothing wrong with Rajadhani or Expo. They are businessmen, they are doing business. But Sri Lanka Railway Department should have some vision to provide good facilities to the public. Actually its not impossible because they did it few decades back (see Observer’s comment).

        2. Dear Kay Jay,

          As your reply connects more than one entity we will refrain from adding comments to same.

          Your knowledge on Rail in Sri Lanka is very impressive and hoping that one day we can meet in person to share this sort of information.

          Pleasure of writing to you on a Blog thread is all ours !

          Thank you so much !

  5. Hi,
    I plan to use Rajadhani Express to travel to Kandy. Because of the time of my flight arrival at Colombo airport I woldn’t be able to reach Colombo Fort till 3:35 pm. Is it possbile to reach the train at any other train station closer to the airport? On which stations does it stop?



  6. I had a bad experience travelling Rajadhani Express. First it was at the Fort Railway Station. The counter guy gave me the wrong tickets (regular Intercity tickets) and then made a fuss and was rather rude saying I was to blame, add to this the officers inside (wearing white) was also very rude. On the same return trip the train did not have Air conditioning and we had to open up the windows. It was like a regular intercity trip with no A/C, TV, or food and beverages…yet we had paid the regular Rajadhani price. I suggest that a separate counter be opened at the Fort railway station for issuing tickets for Rajadhani E and also have online reservation and payment like Expo Rail. This will make it very convenient. Also always have a stand by Generator in case there is no power.

    1. Dear Sir/Madam,

      Many thanks for your review above.

      We are seeking avenues to upgrade all our services at all times.

      We are governed by the Rules and Regulations of Sri Lanka Railways. Trust you will understand that. However we are researching in to more avenue for ticket sales etc. inclusive of introducing a state of the art kiosk system around Sri Lanka. We are hopefull that we will be able to launch this soon.

      Eshana from Rajadhani Express

  7. This note was really helpful. btw, is there a Rajadhani compartment in the Colombo-Anuradhapura train?

  8. I am a regular weekend traveller on Rajadhani E. It is so very inconveneient to purchase tickets at the Fort station standing in the same que as the others. Surely the management / owners of RE have enough clout with the railway authorities to convince them that having paid 3 times the normal amount of the ticket a special counter is justified ? Even airlines all over the world have special counters for biz & first class travellers. Please consider this aspect for convenience sake so that the high price can be justified. Thank you

    1. Now they have online booking at http://www.blueline.lk/. But you have to get a printed ticket by giving the reference number you receive after the reservation is made. Don’t go to the SLR counter at Fort, there is a Mobitel counter outside open from 6.00 am to 6.00 p.m. You can get your printed ticket from there.

  9. Hi,
    I plan to visit Sri Lanka in September and wanted to travel by Rajdhani from Colombo to Bentota. I wanted to know if there is a online reservation system that I can use for the booking. I am travelling from India so can’t use the local means of booking the tickets.

    Please provide inputs.
    Thank you

      1. Thanks Malinthe.

        But this website I already have tried and when I go to Book Tickets link it ends up in a blank page.

        I am not sure if the website link is not working temporarily or the trains are not running currently due to some reasons.

        Also how early can we book our seats in Rajdhani train as my travel is still about 1 and half months away.

  10. The site is operational.
    There was a transition period for ticketing and which ended by 31st July 2012 mid-night.

    You can now book online comfortably. However we have noticed that due to the settings of web browsers being used some of the users are experiencing errors half way. In such situations please do check your setting with your administrator or service provider.

    Please also see the following terms and conditions [which is anyway on the website];

    Please note that with effect from 31st July 2012 midnight all online purchases will be subject to the following ADDITIONAL terms and conditions.

    Ticketing system has been upgraded for your convenience. However it is COMPULSORY for all online travelers to re-validate their ticket and get it printed from a recognized location
    [http://www.blueline.lk/list_of_locations_available_to_print_tickets.pdf ] PRIOR to their journey.

    Please note that this is COMPULSORY and any traveler without the re-validated ticket will not be permitted to enter in to the station/compartment due to any reason.
    It is a responsibility of the traveler to purchase and retain a valid and ticket till the end of the journey with us and to ensure the information entered on our system is correct.

    All purchases are subject to Terms and Conditions on our website [http://www.blueline.lk/terms_and_conditions_1-04-12.pdf]

  11. I travelled with my 3 year old son to Hikkaduwa last week (sep 2012) by Rajdhani. I was made to purchase a full ticket for him, eventhough he actually sat on my lap for the whole journey. Regular trains have a half priced ticket system and airlines have about a 25% discount system for children. So it is not fair that Rajdhani charges full for a small child. I liked the service overall, but i was not happy to pay full price for my son.

  12. BTW why is it that someone going from Fort to Hikkaduwa has to pay the same price as someone going to Matara?

    If they have at least 2-3 price variations based on distance travelled, i am sure more people would be happy to use the service.


  14. Once a week i m travailing by Rajadhani Express. Kandy-Colombo
    excellent staff……
    Good service……
    food to be improve….
    Comfortable journey…………
    Best of luck………..

  15. Hallo, I’ll be travelling on Rajadhani train next February from Colombo Fort to Kandy.
    Please, does anybody let me know which are the best seats in terms of view from windows.
    I am a bit confused about choosing the best row.
    Thanks for help.

  16. We booked the seats about week ahead. Our journey starts from 17th April. Until we getting to the compartment we thought the services as mentioned in the web site and sales leaflets. So the services were utter crap.
    a) Air condition was out of service. No fans worked. Though the shutters are opened no proper ventilation for inside as it was designed for AC. Some of the shutters can not keep opened as the locks were broken. It was insanely hot inside the compartment.
    b) No beverages, tea, snacks or meals served.
    c) No power at all, no WiFi, No proper lighting
    d) No music, No TV only the screen were there
    e) Yes of course seats were there could be able to recline. most of the back pockets were damaged and not possible to keep a small paper.
    Our entire trip got messed up. we couldn’t enjoy our ride to Badulla from Colombo at all.

    We wanted to check if there are air conditioned compartment with proper services available for our return., but the customer service was useless and couldn’t even provide us of proper information and the attitude and response was wicked and horrible towards us. Non of the numbers answered except the ticketing office and the person from ticketing office has o idea at all other than the selling of tickets.

    Should have communicated with customers and should have taken telephone numbers and some body responsible should be available for customers 24*7 basis. There was a person to look after the compartment informed us that the generator is not working and there are no technicians to repair during the said period, which was not totally acceptable to the customers. Most of the tourists also suffered lot including local innocent people.

    Finally as there were no answers from the Rajadhani office, we checked the situation of the compartment and we hired a vehicle to come back to Colombo. This is the worst journey ever happened in my life.

  17. I’m referring to JAYANTHA SAMARAKOO’s post. Rajadhani Express pls respond to his post. I have already booked 4 seats from Colombo to Nanu Oya. If I would have read this post before this, I never book seats of RE. RE pls respond to this post. Is the situation still same ?

    1. Even though I bought tickets, I traveled on RE last week. AC was there. Cabin Crew is gud but they served a tea with bad smell and asked for money for that too. I think they are not cleaning cups properly. After that I didn’t ask for any from them. But I had to ask for 2 bottle of water , because our water bottles were empty. At that time RE din’t have water bottles and had to beg from Expo and served to us. If someone travel, bring enough drinking water.

      Seats are not cleaned properly all back pockets are damaged.

      Seems to be Rajadhani Express doesn’t maintain their service properly and they will loose customers day by day.

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