Sri Lanka is becoming an increasingly popular tourism destination, and travelling through the country using local transport has never been easier. Although there is plenty of room for improvement, the trains have seen an unprecetended demand, with foreigners hanging on the outside of the train - something only the locals would dare. As fun as that may be for some, our tip is this: Book train tickets as soon as possible. The upcoming holiday season (December/January) will see an even higher demand for tickets so dont count on getting tickets 10 minutes before departure unless you are willing to stand.
The trains to Badulla, Nuwara Eliya and Kandy have various classes; luxury, observation, 2nd and 3rd class. A 2nd class ticket does not guarantee you a seat so be there as early as possible. 30-45 mins if you want the chance to get a seat. The same applies for trains to Trinco and Matara.
Tickets can now be booked using exporail (www.exporail.lk) but this is only for the luxury class. This may not be the best way to experience the journey as you do not mingle with the locals as much as in the second class, but at least it guarantees you a seat. You can also book train tickets using a Mobitel sim card. The difference is that you can only book a ticket 14 days prior to the day of the journey. Simply dial 365 and book the journey that you want, but be prepared to wait on the line as you wont be the only one dialing to get a ticket. The rest is pretty simple and straightforward. Visit http://www.mobitel.lk/ticketing for more info. Ticket prices range from Rs. 150 to 1500 depending on the journey and class.
FOR TIMETABLES AND ROUTES - http://seat61.com/SriLanka.htm#.UbQ59_k3C69