Plan for Burma-China Train Link Derailed

Rail coaches in Rangoon. (Photo: Steve Tickner / The Irrawaddy)

Rail coaches in Rangoon. (Photo: Steve Tickner / The Irrawaddy)

RANGOON — A proposed railway to link the planned industrial hub in Arakan State with China has been abandoned due to concerns over the potential cost and environmental impact of the project, according to a Myanma Railways official.

In 2011, Burma signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with a Chinese state-owned enterprise to construct a railway from Kyaukphyu, on the Bay of Bengal, to the Chinese border and on to Kunming, the capital of China’s Yunnan Province—also the route of Chinese-built oil and gas pipelines.

Since the announcement of the initial agreement, however, no progress has been made on the rail project. The gas pipeline is up and running and the oil link is thought to be nearing completion, and a road along the vaunted economic corridor has also been proposed.

“We haven’t had any detailed agreement to implement this railroad since [2011],” said a senior Myanma Railways official in Naypyidaw, who asked not to be named because he is not permitted to talk about the project.

“We just made a memorandum of understanding between the two parties. Now, we haven’t made any new agreement to start operations, so what I can say is that we aren’t working on this project.”

China’s state-owned Railways Engineering Corporation was to spend US$20 billion building the 1,215-kilometer railway, which it would then operate for 50 years before handing the infrastructure over to the Burmese government, according to the terms of the original MoU.

“Actually, the cost proposed by China for the project was not sufficient to construct the long railroad, and, also, there are other environmental impact issues that we would have to consider along the railroad,” the official told The Irrawaddy.

At the planned terminus of the now-abandoned railway, Kyaukphyu, preparations are going ahead for a special economic zone, with a tendering process currently underway to find developers for a deep-sea port, industrial zone and residential development.

One Response to Plan for Burma-China Train Link Derailed

  1. Fox than shwe does not want poor Araknanese people to be rich like Yangon, Mandalay and Nay-pyi-daw. Because, fox than shwe is jealous Arakanese to be rich to be against him very soon. Therefore, let Arakanese poor to displace their Arakanese anger to Rohingya. Any convenient transport links in between the cities are all the sake for ordinary people but fox only wants himself to have military vehicles to go here and there to control and to kill own people easily. If there is a train-links in anywhere in Burma, fox is not easy for him to capture those opposing him/his private army. Fox wants Burmese people uneducated, more naive like psy wirathu and more poor to be unable to revolve fox, himself.

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