YANGON — Upgrades to the Yangon Circular railway line aimed at easing the commercial capital’s traffic congestion are expected to be completed in 2023, Deputy Transport and Communications Minister U Kyaw Myo said on Tuesday.
Speaking to lawmakers in the Yangon Parliament, he said work could not begin in 2017 as planned because negotiations with the contractors took longer than expected and commenced only this year. The delay has also pushed the expected date of completion back a year.
The upgrades, planned since 2014, are part of the Japan International Cooperation Agency’s Strategic Urban Development Plan for Greater Yangon. The work includes modernizing the line’s stations, tracks, trains and management.
U Kyaw Myo said the upgrades were needed to replace decades-old tracks, deteriorating facilities and equipment and outdated practices.
He told lawmakers that the ministry carried out a feasibility study with Japan’s help in 2014 and that environmental and social impact assessment reports were submitted to the Environment and Conservation Ministry, which approved the project in June.
Public consultations were held four times over two years, the deputy minister added.
The Yangon Circular, managed and operated by Myanma Railways, is 46 kilometers long with 38 stations and runs 221 times a day. Some 73,000 commuters ride the line daily.
To upgrade the system, the Transport and Communications Ministry divided the line into halves — the western half from Phayarlan Station to Danyingone Station, and the eastern half from Danyingone Station to Pazundaung Station. The ministry awarded each half to a different consortium.
U Kyaw Myo said both consortiums started work in early 2018.
The project is being funded by a $207.8 million loan from Japan and 54.5 billion kyats ($34.3 million) from the nation budget, the deputy minister said. Once finished, he added, the upgrades are expected to cut the time of a round trip from 170 minutes to 105 minutes.