On our two day journey to Sigiriya, the last part was to send the bikes by train to a station in Colombo while we came back by bus. Our previous plan was to take the night mail and come on the same train but taking the night mail meant we had to spend the entire night in the station, come back early morning to Colombo and head to work (with little sleep). Intercity buses are insanely fast and it all works perfectly well if you get a seat to sleep on the way – which we did after an hour of standing.
Loading the bikes in to the trains worked perfectly well because one of my friend’s uncle was a station master in Mannar and he was able to make some phone calls and get the job done.
- Your bike needs to have a registration number – similar to motorbikes having a number plate, you need to get one of these from the Provincial Council. It will cost you less than 50 LKR. But we didn’t have those – this is where the connection we had with the station master played a crucial role. It’s always good to know people. If you have this number plate, it makes your job much easier.
- Figure out which station you are going to load your bikes from. We initially wanted to do it in the Habarana train station but that didn’t work because Habarana didn’t provide us with a storage facility. Always call the station and ask whether they transport goods. Luckily the Palugaswewa station had that facility and we cycled all the way there from Habarana.
- Make sure the return station has the storage facility. Gayath and I sent our bikes to the Wellawatte station which is closer to our office and less crowded than the Fort railway station. Randima and Devin sent their bikes to the Kottawa station.
- Have an idea about the train times from that respective station. This is a very useful website: http://www.slr.malindaprasad.com/
- Have some cardboard, felt pens and strings so that you can tag your bike with your name and the station it’s supposed to go to.
- Keep your bikes unlocked – it makes the job easy for people to transfer it from train to train. Remove lights, pouches, things that can be removed. Also help the people load the bike on to the train. It makes their work easier.
- It cost me 730 LKR and you are supposed to pay it at the train station before loading your bike. You will get a receipt – please don’t lose that. That is needed to claim the bike at the end station.
- Call the end station and ask if the bikes arrived. Don’t wait for too long or else they will charge a waiting fee.