Yangon-Mandalay railroad to be upgraded with Japanese loan

NAY PYI TAW—The Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) will lend 20 billion Yen (Ks 192.4 billion) to the Myanmar government to upgrade the Yangon-Mandalay railroad, Minister for Rail Transportation Than Htay told a parliamentary session on Tuesday.

The interest rate for the loan is set at 0.01 percent and is repayable in 40 years with a 10-year postpone period. Meanwhile, the railroad upgrade project will be executed in three parts: Yangon-Taungoo, Taungoo-Yamethin and Yamethin-Mandalay railroads. It will be completed by September 2022, according to the minister.

“Japanese experts are carrying out tests at the project areas. We will start to work on railroads between January and October, 2016. It will continue for the next four years until September 2020. The monitoring period for the project will be between 2020 and 2022,” Than Htay said.

The project involves soil maintenance along the railroad, replacing old rails, upgrading bridges, building overpasses, installing signal systems, and upgrading locomotives and cars. After the railroad upgrade is complete, passenger trains will run up to 100 kilometres (62.5 miles) per hour on it, he added.

Currently, trains usually speed 25 miles per hour on the Yangon-Mandalay railroad despite a maximum speed setting of 43 miles per hour. The railroad runs for 385.5 miles in length, and the journey by train from Yangon to Mandalay takes more than 15 hours.
The railroad’s maximum payload will be raised from 17 tonnes to 20 tonnes, the same measure used in neighbouring countries.

Meanwhile, the first priority for the project will be the Yangon-Taungoo section. In nine main railway stations between Yangon and Taungoo, a computerized interlocking system will be installed. The Central Control System is to be installed at the Yangon Railway Station to monitor trains on the Yangon-Taungoo rail track, the minister said.

Critics say the quality of the Yangon-Mandalay railway service has declined between 2000 and 2010 due to poor maintenance and corruption in the Ministry for Rail Transportation.

Source: ELEVEN Myanmar

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