The Viceroy Special acts as a heritage service. Passenger carriages on the train are fitted with nineteenth-century period fittings and include a restaurant car, an observation car and a bar. It also has some modern features like air-conditioning. It is run by the only steam locomotive still in operation in Sri Lanka.
Currently three steam locomotives run the Viceroy Special
- Class B1a No. 251 “Sir Thomas Maitland”
- Class B1d No. 340 “Frederick North”
- Class B2b No. 213
The launch of the Viceroy Special was spearheaded by Hemasiri Fernando and Cliff Jones. The idea of re-introducing steam to Sri Lanka rails was inspired by a tourism promotional visit to Sri Lanka in 1984 by Cliff Jones who, returning from a day trip to Kandy, called at Dematagoda loco sheds and saw, what he later described a graveyard of ‘veritable massive tourism potential’ and put the proposition to the then Minister of State Ananda de Tissa de Alweis who was wildly enthusiastic and with the tremendous help of GMR Manager and Hemasiri Fernando it came to fruition 2 years later. During the Second World War, Lord Louis Mountbatten, the last Viceroy of India and Supreme Commander of All Forces in the South East Asian Command (SEAC) used a special train called the SEAC Special to travel to and from his headquarters in Kandy, Sri Lanka. This train was the inspiration for the Viceroy Special.
The Viceroy Special has been running for over 25 years.