By Tin Win Lay (Kyimyindine)
Photo: Ko Gyi Tin
The first Yangon Central Railway Station in downtown was not the one you see standing nowadays. It was situated south of the present one near Pansodan Street.
According to records, it was only in 1911 that the second Yangon Central Railway station was moved to its current position.
During the Second World War, it was bombed frequently and these bombings destroyed the entire western part of the station according to an article written in the Myanma Railways centennial magazine.
Drawing a new design for a new railway station
At that time, headquarters of the railways was in Simla, India. Headquarters asked engineer U Hla Thwin in Yangon to submit a new design drawing of the new railway station and the design was approved on 7 May 1946.
Expert on Myanmar architecture Sithu U Tin was assigned to include Myanmar traditional architectural design.
Sayagyi Sithu U Tin also made an all-out effort in producing Myanmar’s traditional architectural styles and designs. English engineers were said to have commended the Myanmar traditional five tier roof style topping the four stairwells.
The construction of the new railway station began a year before the country’s independence in 1947, completed in 1954 and opened on 5 June.
Majestic and striking
The railway station consisted of three main buildings and was majestic and striking. As it was now only 65 years old, it will remain strong and sturdy for many more years to come.
The majestic beauty of Yangon central railway station with its Myanmar architectural designs was enhanced further by the bronze statues of a youthful boy and girl celebrating traditional Myanmar Thingyan in the present modern day outfits. The statues were erected in a small park in front of the station.
The two statues were of a boy pouring water out of a bowl onto a girl and the poses were alive and realistic.
Display of an outstanding bronze casting
Even though it was a bronze casting, the dresses of the boy and girl were realistic as though real wet dresses were being worn. It shows the high standard and quality of the bronze casting.
A commemorative plaque attached to the platform underneath the statue said the bronze casting was by Sayagyi U Han Tin. Even though Sayagyi had already passed away, his handiwork or art work remain alive and prominently featured.
Work on the bronze statues were started on 1 September 1989 and completed in 28 February 1990. The statues were unveiled on 4 March 1990 said the plaque. The plaque further stated that a total of 1,555.56 viss of bronze was used to produce the statues.
The railway station depicts Myanmar’s culture and arts while the bronze Thingyan couple depicts another traditional cultural heritage of Myanmar. It is our duty and responsibility to maintain this traditional culture, arts and heritages.
News had emerged of upgrading the Yangon Central Railway Station. Officials from Myanmar Railway had also made official announcements about it.
Japan’s Sumitomo was learnt to have took over the responsibility to implement the upgrade work after the tender winning company withdrew for various reasons.
Initially Oxley Holding company, a joint venture between China’s Sino Great Wall company and Myanmar’s Min Dhama company was to sign a contract with Myanma Railways in 2020 and to complete the construction within 8 years. “Although a new partner was coming in to replace an outgoing partner the project design remains the same,” said Myanma Railways Managing Director U Ba Myint.
The project covers an area of 63.5 acres and a floor area of 1.19 square metre will be constructed. The construction area will be bordered by Bogyoke Aung San Street to the south, Bo Min Yaung street to the north, Sule Pagoda road to the west and Theinbyu street on the east.
The construction will include offices, hotels and condominiums with the new train station in the middle. The new train station will be right beside the old or the present station. Once the construction was completed Myanma Railways is expected to generate a monthly income of US$ 4 million from the project.
As foreign companies play a lead role in designing and constructing it, the new station will be a world class modern beauty. Yet I wonder whether the new station will be able to compete with the Myanmar designed old station with Myanmar architecture styles. – Translated by Handytips