Transportation in Sri Lanka is based on its road network, which is centered on the country’s capital Colombo. Rail transport in Sri Lanka handles a portion of Sri Lanka’s transport needs. Sri Lanka has a well-connected network of transportation which covers the road, rail, and air. Both national transportation services and private transportation services operate within the island. There are navigable waterways, harbors and two international airports in Katunayake, 35km north of Colombo and in Mattala 18km away from Hambanthota.
Transportation services in Sri Lanka are based mainly on three sub-modes such as land, air, and water. Among these modes, transportation by land takes priority for the transport needs inside the island. No need to travel by water or air to travel within the country as it is small in size rather than for traveling abroad or transporting huge goods. Public transport services like buses, three-wheelers, trains and private transport modes like self-driven cars, vans, motorbikes or lorries make up the major transportation modes in Sri Lanka within the country. So we can say that transportation in Sri Lanka is mainly based on the road network but airports, harbors, and waterways are also there.
Different Modes of Transportation
About Land Transport
Sri Lanka has a well-connected national network of roads consisting about 116,113 km. Almost all the roads are metaled and/or carpeted and they cover all the cities and places of tourist interest. Therefore, any part of the island can be reached within a few hours. Driving in Sri Lanka is on the left. The main roads around the country are in good condition but are not an efficient means of travel and transportation as the majority of roads are a single lane in each direction with no divider. Road density is highest in the southwest, particularly the area around Colombo.
The railway network, largely a legacy of British colonial rule, only handles a small fraction of the country’s transport needs. Sri Lanka’s rail network is operated by Sri Lanka Railways, linking Colombo with almost all the popular tourist destinations and the other populous cities across the island. A number of train services are available. Rail services are primarily for passengers with very little capacity available for goods transportation.
Another major target for the road network, highways have been able to reduce traffic jam, especially in Colombo. Highways are in good condition, with a smooth bitumen surface and road markings. There are two highways from the Katunayake airport to Colombo and from near Colombo to southern parts of the country. The prospects for Sri Lanka’s land transport sector looks at further expansion, with more efficient road and rail services coming on-line. Here are some major means of transport: Bus, Train, Taxi, Three-Wheeler, Hiring vehicles, Self-driven vehicles, Motor Bicycle
Transportation by Water
Sri Lanka has 160 km of inland waterways navigable by shallow-draught boats. And also it has seven deep navigable water ports around the island including Colombo, Galle, Hambanthota, and Trincomalee. Galle in the south of Sri Lanka was previously the main trading port in Sri Lanka, but gradually more trade moved to Colombo port as port facilities improved with the construction of the artificial harbor. The port of Colombo is now the busiest in Sri Lanka and ranks among the top 35 ports in the world. It serves as an important hub in Asia due to its strategic location on the Asian continent.
Sri Lanka’s international airports include Colombo Bandaranaike International Airport, Mattala Rajapaksa International Airport and Ratmalana International Airport, which is being renovated. There are a number of airlines currently operating domestic flights within Sri Lanka offering flights, scenery flights as well as charter flights. Bandaranaike International Airport is in Katunayake, 35 north of Colombo. Mattala Rajapaksa International Airport is in Mattala, 18km north of Hambantota. After its renovation, Ratmalana Airport will resume international flights after a half-century absence. Sri Lankan Airlines is the national airline. It operates to Asia and Europe from its base at Bandaranaike International Airport in Colombo and the airline’s main office is in the Airline Centre at the airport.