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Train Travel - Sri Lanka

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Three friends and I are planning a week trip to Sri Lanka in late April. Having read about the problems with traffic, poor roads, not to mention trying to ensure that a safe driver is engaged, I have suggested we travel by train as much as possible. This seems a no brainer to me however most people in this forum seem to choose to engage a driver - why so? We are planning on visiting Kandy, then going up to the cultural triangle - possibly staying in Polonnaruwa.
Has anyone had any experience with train travel? Any tips? We would travel First Class. (I know about the website seat61.com.)

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