Prepaid Payment System to Install on Circular Trains

By Myat Su Mon 5 June 2013

RANGOON — Burma may implement an electronic system of paying for train travel in its commercial capital if talks between the state railway firm and a private company are successful.

State-owned Myanmar Railways is in talks with the military-owned iPay company over rolling out a pre-paid card system on circular railways in the former capital Rangoon, according to a Myanmar Railways official.

Chit Kyaw Myo, the deputy general manager of Myanmar Railways, told The Irrawaddy the company was holding discussions with IPay, which is a subsidiary of the military-owned Union of Myanmar Economic Holdings.

“This kind of payment system is currently used on buses and ships, so I don’t think it will be very difficult to implement on trains,” Chit Kyaw Myo said. “We, however, still have to talk about monetary issues with them as we use our funds every day.”

“They will have to carry out the necessary building at different stations,” he continued. “We just can’t start the system right away, but we are negotiating.”

The iPay Company launched an electronic payment system with prepaid cards for public transport in Rangoon in 2012.

“We already have the technology and are currently in discussions with [Myanmar Railways] to use it on circular trains,” said Thant Sin, operation manager of iPay. “We have done a field study about how ticketing works on trains and submitted our findings to [Myanmar Railways] together with our recommendations on how to install a new system.”

He said fees for circular trains will remain the same and, if this system works, his company will work with the Ministry of Railway Transportation to gradually expand it to long-distance routes.

Tickets currently cost between 100 kyat (about US $0.11) and 200 kyat ($0.22).

“I don’t know if I can pay bus fees with a prepaid card, but I would like to use it on trains as I won’t need to buy tickets hurriedly or in advance,” said Khin Aye Mon, a female commuter in Rangoon.

In a recent survey of Rangoon residents, The Irrawaddy found that half of those who use buses and circular trains every day do not like the prepaid card system.