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Rangoon–Moulmein railway upgrade on track

By rail in Rangoon. (PHOTO: Colin Hinshelwood/DVB)

 

The Rangoon–Moulmein railway line is getting a 9 billion kyat (US$6.5 million) facelift. Work on the track is currently underway and will be finished by 2019, according to Mon State Minister for Agriculture, Livestock and Transportation Tun Htay.

When completed, the 188-mile train journey from Rangoon to Moulmein (officially termed Yangon to Mawlamyine) will be cut from 9.5 hours to six hours.

“The railway track in Mon State is 90 miles long,” said Tun Htay. “To complete the upgrade by 2019, some nine billion kyat has been budgeted. First the track will be renovated, then the old sleeper carriages will be replaced by new ones. There will be no more shaky sleeper carriages on this line.”

Myo Zaw Too, chief engineering officer at Mawlamyine Railway Station, said there are no significant challenges in upgrading the railway, apart from the issue of vehicles and bullock carts continuing to cross the tracks illegally and hence cause trains to come to a halt.

“We’ll get gravel for paving the tracks from mines in Zin Kyaik, Motepalin and Yinnyein,” he said. “And we will order steel rails from an ironworks in Paung. For the concrete tiles, we will contract the Mottama cement factory.”

The 188 miles of railway line is due to be tackled in three sections: the 78.5-mile track from Moulmein to Taung Sun is now underway; the 63-mile stretch from Taung Sun to Pegu [Bago] has already been completed; and the final section will be the 46.5-mile line between Pegu and Rangoon.

State-owned Myanmar Railways currently has 3,357 miles of track across the country and a total of 858 stations. It transports an average of 100,000 passengers every day.