Burma (Myanmar) Railways
Dates of operation: 1896–present
Predecessor: Irrawaddy Valley State Railway, Sittang Valley State Railway, Mu Valley State Railway
Track gauge: 1,000 mm (3 ft 3 3⁄8 in), Metre gauge
Length: 5,403 km (3,357 mi) (2010)
Myanmar Railways, also spelled Myanma Railways; (formerly Burma Railways) is the state-owned agency that operates the railway network in Myanmar. The 5,403-kilometre (3,357 mi) metre gauge rail network consists of 858 stations, and generally spans north to south with branch lines to east and west. MR also operates the Yangon Circular Railway line, Yangon's commuter rail network. MR operates 18 freight trains, and 379 passenger trains, transporting over 100,000 passengers daily.
The quality of the railroads is generally poor. Most remain in poor repair and are not passable during the monsoon season. The speeds of freight trains are heavily restricted on all existing links as a consequence of poor track and bridge conditions. The maximum speed for freight trains has been quoted as 24 km/h (15 mph), suggesting that commercial speeds on this section could be as low as 12–14 km/h (7.5–8.7 mph).
MR has steadily increased the reach of its network in the last two decades, from nearly 3200 km in 1988 to 5403 km in 2010. MR is currently undertaking an ambitious expansion program that will add another 3,645 km (2,265 mi) to its network, including extensions to Myeik in the south, Kyaingtong in the east, Sittwe in the west.
2) Recent railroad expansion
3) Rail network and services
3.1) Lower Myanmar
3.2) Upper Myanmar
3.3) Yangon Circular Railway
Rail transport was first introduced in Myanmar in May 1877 when Lower Burma was a British colony with the opening of the 163-mile (262 km) Yangon to Pyay line by The Irrawaddy Valley State Railway. In 1884, a new company, The Sittang Valley State Railway, opened a 166-mile (267 km) line along the Sittaung River from Yangon to the town of Taungoo via Bago. After the annexation of Upper Burma following the Third Anglo-Burmese War of 1885, the British extended the Taungoo line to Mandalay, the fallen capital, by 1889. Following the opening of this section, the Mu Valley State Railway was formed and construction began on a railway line from Sagaing to Myitkyina and connected Mandalay to Shwebo in 1891, to Wuntho in 1893, to Katha in 1895, and to Myitkyina in 1898.
In 1896, before the completion of the line to Myitkyina, the three companies were combined into the Burma Railway Company as a state owned public undertaking. The railway was known as Burma Railways between 1928 and 1989. The railway's reach to the Taninthayi coast first came in 1907 with the opening of the Bago-Mottama line. Passengers had to take a ferry over the Thanlwin River(Salween River) to Mawlamyaing. In 1942, the country had 3,313 km (2,059 mi) (route-km) of metre gauge track, but during World War II the Japanese removed about 480 km (298 mi). By the end of the conflict only 1,085 km (674 mi) (route-km) was operational, in four isolated sections. They constructed the only international link the country has enjoyed, from Thanbyusayat Junction via Three Pagodas Pass to Thailand, the short-lived Death Railway.
After Myanmar gained independence from the UK in 1948, the rail network was rebuilt. By 1961 the network extended to 3,020 km (1,877 mi), and then remained constant until the opening of a 36 km (22 mi) line from Kyaukpadaung to Kyini in October 1970. In 1988, MR operated 487 railway stations over a 3,162 km (1,965 mi) long network. Since coming to power in 1988, the current military government has embarked on a railroad construction program, and by 2000 MR operated 5,068 km (3,149 mi) (track-km) divided into 11 operating divisions. Most of the routes are single track although large parts of Yangon-Pyay and Yangon-Mandalay routes are double track.
Recent railroad expansion
1994 saw the start of construction of the initially isolated 160 km (99 mi) Ye-Dawei (Tavoy) railway, completed March 1998. This was later joined to the route north at Ye by the new 250 m (270 yd) road/rail bridge across the Ye River, opened November 2003. In April 2008, the tracks were extended across the 2.4 km (1.5 mi) Moulmein road/rail bridge, provision having been made in its design when it was opened a few years earlier. This allowed the long isolated section south to Ye and later Dawei (Tavoy) to receive trains from the north of the country. Also in 2008/9, the Ayeyawady Valley route was extended north along the west bank of the river towards Pakokku in the far north of the country. The 60 km (37 mi) Kyangin-Okshippin (Padang) section of Kyangin-Thayet railway was opened in March 2008 and the 56 km (35 mi) Okshippin-Kamma railway section was opened in March 2009.
In 2009, planning started on a link from Lashio to Jiegao in China. This links would have a1,000 mm (3 ft 3 3⁄8 in) - 1,435 mm (4 ft 8 1⁄2 in) break-of-gauge.
In 2010, MR is working on multiple railroad construction projects: Motagyi-Bhamo (130 km/81 mi), Mongnai-Kyaingtong (346 km/215 mi), Minbu-An-Yechanpyin (395 km/245 mi), Dawei-Myeik (213 km/132 mi), Pathein-Nyaungdon-Yangon Hlaingthaya (143 km/89 mi), Pyay-Taungoo-Naypyidaw (193 km/120 mi), Hinthada-Nyaungdon (77 km/48 mi), Thayet-Kyunchaung (307 km/191 mi), Ywataw-Kanpya (105 km/65 mi).
Rail network and services
MR operates 858 stations throughout the country. Yangon Central and Mandalay Central have been the twin anchors of the network. Recently, MR has extended rail service along the Taninthayi coast toMon State and Tanintharyi Region with Mawlamyaing Station as the southern hub. The network generally runs north to south with branches to east and west.