The Irrawaddy

Upgrades to Yangon-Mandalay Rail Line to Start in July, Operator Says

YANGON — Upgrades to the railway line running from Yangon to Mandalay will begin in July, according to a Myanma Railways official.

“We are upgrading the railroad network across the country, and we are inviting tenders to upgrade the Yangon-Mandalay line. We expect to start upgrades in July,” U Ba Myint, general manager of the state rail operator, told The Irrawaddy.

He said bridges along the 620-km section would be repaired as part of the work and that modern technologies and equipment would also be added to locomotives and cargo operations.

“We have divided the Yangon-Mandalay line into three sections. About three companies have submitted bids for each section. I can’t reveal their names for the time being, but I will make an announcement when we sign contracts with them,” U Ba Myint said.

The line will be upgraded in three sections — Yangon-Toungoo, Toungoo-Yamaethin, and Yamaethin-Mandalay — starting with the first one.

Myanma Railways will borrow 271.64 billion yen ($2.49 billion) from the Japan International Cooperation Agency to complete the upgrades, which are expected to cut travel time between the country’s two largest cities from 14 hours to eight.

“It is a huge project,” said U Ba Myint, adding that work was expected to finish in 2023.

Myanma Railways will also purchase new locomotives and coaches with additional loans from Japan. Of the state rail operator’s more than 400 locomotives, nearly half are past their service life. A quarter of the roughly 1,200 carriages it has in use are in poor condition.

Translated from Burmese by Thet Ko Ko.