A scenic, but slow train journey

887 Reviews

Star Travel Rating


Review type

Things to do

Date of travel

January, 2022

Product name

The scenic train between Ella and Nanu Oya

Product country

Sri Lanka

Product city


Travelled with


Reasons for trip


Although most of our Sri Lanka tour was by car, our itinerary included the scenic train journey between Ella and Nanu Oya (the stop for the hill station of Nuwara Eliya).

Whilst waiting on the platform for the 9.17am train, it was hard to miss the station manager, resplendent in his white suit with gold braid and natty winkle pickers. According to Lonely Planet he won the Most Helpful Station Manager award, but perhaps he should have won the most stylishly dressed.

The train had ten carriages of three classes and our first-class carriage had two by two seats, all facing the direction of travel. Our tickets cost only 1,000 Rupees (£3.60) each, which for a three-hour journey was exceptionally cheap compared to British Rail.

However, the train was slow and the electronic screen which flashed messages, told us that the highest speed was 30km per hour: all the other messages were in Sinhalese. Kiddie cartoons, fortunately with the sound off, were shown on the TV monitors, even though the majority of passengers were adults.

Although there was a buffet car, a hawker came round selling wade (spicy and non-spicy) and sweet hot tea.

There were 10 stops on the route which snaked high above a valley with views of the villages and towns below and mist covered mountains in the distance. Track side, small patches of land were immaculately maintained with neat rows of vegetables. We spotted tea plantations, and white Buddhist stupas which stood out amongst the green bushes and trees. Unfortunately, dirty train windows meant photos were impossible.

Despite the scenery and the low cost, the pace of the journey was slightly frustrating, and we were pleased our journey wasn’t longer.

For some reason, tickets can only be purchased two weeks in advance, and you’re advised that seats cannot always be guaranteed.

Helen Jackson

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