Yangon, Myanmar – The first phase of improvements to the western half of Yangon’s circular line, the loop railway that runs around the city, have begun. Six kilometres of track from Insein to Tanyingone station are being upgraded, with that work expected to be completed in May.
The second and third phases of the project, will see a further 13 kilometres of track rehabilitated. Continuing on from Insein station to Yangon station, this work will start in October this year and be completed in the first quarter of 2019. The total cost of the project is $301 million, with $207 million of that coming from Japan and the rest from the national budget. Upgrades to the eastern half of the circular line will be carried out in 2022.
The circular line is 49 kilometres long and one full loop of the circuit currently takes around three hours, by the time the upgrades are complete that journey is expected to take just over one hour.
Myanmar is carrying out upgrades to multiple parts of its rail infrastructure. The most noteworthy is the $2.5 billion Yangon railway station project which will take eight years to complete. The Central Transport Development Consortium (CTDC) was selected to redevelop the site around Yangon Central Railway Station in the city centre. The aim of the project is to turn the station into a transport hub and to revitalise the local community.
Last year Japan unveiled its master plan for Yangon’s railways. Investment in the whole country is increasing as well though, as Korea and the Asian Development Bank have both provided loans to finance cross country railway upgrade projects. Unlike other parts of Southeast Asia Myanmar has an extensive railway network but it is in desperate need of repair.
‘The number of passengers is on the rise every year. We are currently running 23 routes, covering nearly 7,000 kilometres throughout the country. We will mainly focus on improving public facilities as a critical part of our reforms’ Ba Myint, senior general manager and project director at Myanma Railways said to state media.