SOAS Research Online

A Free Database of the Latest Research by SOAS Academics and PhD Students

[skip to content]

Munasinghe T. G. Indrani (1972) The Development and History of Transportation in Ceylon: A Study of Roads and Railways 1800-1905. PhD thesis. SOAS University of London. DOI:

PDF - Submitted Version
Download (125MB) | Preview


The aim of this Thesis is to analyse the development or the road and rail transport in Ceylon during the period 1800-1905. In addition to detailing the actual development and the associated problems of capital, labour, land and material, it also sheds light on a host of relevant variables as the close relationship with the plantation economy, the purposes and policy of the Government, railways operation and economic and social effects. In the development of roads, we trace how the simple clearing of the jungle to effect a pathway in the initial period, evolved into a comprehensive system of road building where construction of durable strong surfaces, drainage and levelling, and the erection of permanent bridges became normal features. In dealing with roads we emphasize the role of and the problems associated with the requisition of labour as it was the major factor involved. The construction of railways, their ownership and operation by the Government, involved discussions of high finance - loan capital, sinking funds, contracts - and operational procedure - the rate policy, railway maintenance, management, accounting etc. The intricate details involved and the fact that railways came to supersede roads as the major scope of government activity made us to devote more attention on railways. Our study reveals that the concentration of the transport network in plantation regions was an outcome of the then existing circumstances and does not reflect any prejudice against the native population. The concluding chapter points out that the high profits from railway undertakings were large enough even to offset recurrent losses on road maintenance in addition to meeting the repayment of interest on capital and maintenance of railways. Finally, our study while recognising the achievement in transport development during the period as significant, qualifies that there were many regions left without adequate transport facilities.

Item Type: Theses (PhD)
SOAS Departments & Centres: SOAS Research Theses > Proquest
DOI (Digital Object Identifier):
Date Deposited: 12 Oct 2020 17:17

Altmetric Data


Download activity - last 12 monthsShow export options
Downloads since deposit
6 month trend
6 month trend
Accesses by country - last 12 monthsShow export options
Accesses by referrer - last 12 monthsShow export options

Repository staff only

Edit Item Edit Item