Tourists from all over the world come to Sri Lanka to experience the diversity this beautiful island nation offers. Although a large number of tourists usually come from western countries, recent reports suggests increase in Asian tourist arrivals, especially from countries such as China. The coastal city of Mount Lavinia is a favorite tourist destination among such tourists, located in close proximity to the commercial capital city of Colombo.
Local social media streams were flooded with images claiming to of the train schedule at Mt. Lavinia Railway Station displayed only in Chinese and English. However, our investigation revealed interpretations were misleading and that the concerned train timing display had been installed at the Mount Lavinia Railway Station in 2015. We also learnt that a separate daily train timetable was available at the station in Sinhala and English.
SOCIAL MEDIA POSTS:
A post with an accompanying photograph claiming to be from Mount Lavinia Railway station was shared as seen below, which had information of long distance train timings only in English and Chinese. The viral posts claimed that Sinhala and Tamil languages had been omitted out.
Similar posts were shared among a large number of Facebook users and was seen on several Facebook pages with a similar narrative.
Twitter users also shared similar sentiments stating that train schedules were not published in Sinhala and Tamil at the Mount Lavinia railway station.
A keyword search revealed that the photograph used in these viral posts was similar to a photograph of the Mount Lavinia Railway Station that had been published in 2017, available under the station’s images in Google Maps as seen below.
Hence, it is clear that the viral train time display at the Mount Lavinia railway station is not a recent one. We inquired further details from the Mount Lavinia Station Master, the Railway Department and the Mount Lavinia Hotel in order to ascertain the facts. Here is the response that we received:
Mount Lavinia Station-Master
The Mount Lavinia Station Master told us that a large number of tourists from the East and West leave from Mount Lavinia Railway Station to visit various parts of the island. He also said these tourists often inquire about departure times. The Mount Lavinia Hotel, a leading tourist hotel decided to install a display indicating departure times of long distance train services from Colombo Fort Railway Station due to the rapid growth of Chinese tourists in the recent past, many of which don’t understand English.
The stationmaster added that there is an additional train timetable of daily trains, which are available from the Mt. Lavinia railway station and the information was available in Sinhala and English. Below is the daily train schedule at Mt. Lavinia railway station, which is being updated by the station employees manually.
We also noticed the same schedule on TripAdvisor about the Mount Lavinia station as seen below.
However, we noticed that Tamil version of this timetable was not available at the station.
The Station Master further stated that some notices were also in French and German and all of these were sponsored by the Mount Lavinia hotel.
He also stated that the Mount Lavinia Hotel was always offering help in uplifting the conditions of the Railway Station including the renovation of women’s restroom and disinfection tasks of the station. Below are some of the projects sponsored by the Mount Lavinia hotel
THE RAILWAY DEPARTMENT
The department also confirmed they had not installed the long distance train time display at the Mount Lavinia railway station and the Mount Lavinia Hotel sponsored it. They also confirmed that the regular train time schedule was in Sinhala and English.
MOUNT LAVINIA HOTEL
We contacted the Public Relations Officer at Mount Lavinia Hotel. She stated that as a leading heritage hotel in the country, they are making a great effort to beautify the area including tourism promotional activities along the Mount Lavinia coastline. She also said that the Hotel has always supported the maintenance of the station including disinfection since the Covid-19 outbreak. She stressed that they are deeply concerned about this condemnation, instead of appreciating the service rendered by the Mount Lavinia Hotel to the promotion of the tourism industry.
Here is a Daily Financial Times article from October 2015 on the CSR mission to beautify the railway station on World Tourism Day. Here is another 2017 article from Mt. Lavinia Hotel on their CSR work at the station
Based on our investigations, it is evident that the image getting viral on social media is a display of the long distance trains originating from Colombo Fort, which was set up at the Mount Lavinia Railway Station in 2015. This was done as part of the Mount Lavinia Hotel’s CSR activities with the aim of informing travelers mainly Chinese of long distance train times. A separate display of daily train timetable is available in Sinhala at the Mount Lavinia railway station, also sponsored by the hotel. However, a Tamil version of the time table is unavailable.
Title:Is The Train Timing Display at Mt. Lavinia Railway Station available only in English and Chinese?Fact Check By: Shanaya Seneviratne