Rail Paradise

Feb 17, 2011 (LBO) – Sri Lanka’s first high-speed locomotive not only covered its inaugural journey in record time, but also maintained a centuries-old tradition of being late.

However, the locomotive on the inaugural run was not the one that was supposed to be there in the first place.

Maintaining another tradition, the authorities used a substitute train, this time one built in China, to carry the Indian High Commissioner Ashok Kantha and the other dignitaries on the maiden journey.

The Indian locomotives for this run have already arrived in Sri Lanka, but it will be sometime before they can be put to use, according to railway officials who say they were “not ready”.

High Commissioner Kantha may have been puzzled as to why so many seats were reserved for him in the train. He was to be informed later that “Kantha” meant women in Sinhalese and these seats were for them.

The refurbished Galle-Matara railway line opened on the Holy Prophet’s birthday as the first high-speed track, but chief guest Transport Minister, turned up for the flagging off an hour behind schedule.

It is not clear if he had travelled to Galle by another train (which should exp