No, these photos have circulated online since 2013 in reports about a train service in Sri Lanka

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Multiple photos have been shared thousands of times on Facebook alongside a claim they show a train in Sri Lanka that was renovated in 2020. The claim is misleading; most of the photos have circulated since 2013 in reports about a now-discontinued train service in Sri Lanka.

The photos were published here on Facebook on August 29, 2020. The post has been shared more than 2,900 times. 

The post contain six photos: one shows the exteriors of a painted train and six others show various features inside a train. 

Screenshot of the Facebook post published on August 29, 2020

The post’s Sinhala caption translates to English as: “The Badulla A/C train started its journey yesterday with a facelift. It is the responsibility of the authorities and the passengers to make sure it is maintained this way.”

Badulla is a city in Sri Lanka's Uva Province.

The photos were also shared alongside similar claims on Facebook here, here, here, here and here.

The claim, however, is misleading.

A reverse image search on Google found two of the photos published in July 2013 on a promotional poster for Rajadhani Express, a train service in Sri Lanka. 

The poster, uploaded on Facebook here,  features the third and sixth photos in the misleading post.

Screenshot of the Rajadhani Express’ July 2013 Facebook post taken on September 3, 2020

Below are screenshot comparisons between the third and sixth photos in the misleading post (L) and the photos in the poster (R):

Screenshot comparisons between photos three and six in the misleading post (L) and the photos in the poster (R)

A further reverse image search found the second photo in the misleading post published here on the Rajadhani Express’s Facebook page in April 2013.

Below is a screenshot comparison between the second misleading photo (L) and the Rajadhani Express’s photo (R):

Screenshot comparison between the second misleading photo (L) and the Rajadhani Express’s photo (R):

While AFP was not able to verify the source of the fourth and fifth photos in the misleading post, they appear to feature the same individuals seen in the other interior photos from 2013. The individuals included the train assistant in a yellow uniform and the two female passengers. 

Below is a screenshot comparison between the fourth and fifth photos in the misleading post (L) and the photos on the Rajadhani Express’s Facebook page (R), with the similarities circled in green:

Screenshot comparison between photos four and five in the misleading post and the photos on the Rajadhani Express’s Facebook page, with the similarities circled in green by AFP

According to this April 2017 Facebook post published on the Rajadhani Express’ Facebook page, they have ceased operations in Sri Lanka.

Screenshot of the Rajadhani Express’ April 6, 2017 Facebook post taken on September 3, 2020

It reads, in part: “It is with great regret we announce the termination of Rajadhani Express Services effecting from 31st March 2017.”

In response to the misleading posts, Sri Lanka Railways’ general manager M J D Fernando also told AFP by phone on September 2, 2020: “These claims are false - the images are of compartments facilitated by a private railway service that was operating a few years back. They suspended their operations with effect from 2017 and are no longer operational.”