The upgrading project for the Yangon circular train will be implemented on 1 October at a cost of over US$300 million, according to the Ministry of Transport and Communications.
The upgrade will increase comfort and safety and is scheduled to be completed in 2022, said an official from Myanmar Railway, which operates under the Ministry of Transport and Communications.
U Thurain Win, Managing Director of Myanmar Railway, said it is possible the project could be completed before 2022, but the finishing date was chosen in case there are difficulties.
The total cost for the project will be $301.29 million, with $94.76 million from Myanmar and $206.53 million in loans from a Japan fund.
The Myanmar Railway will use the national fund of $94.76 million for work upgrading stations, repairing railway, over-passes bridges and fences for platforms. The loans from Japan will be used to buy new diesels, train coaches and alarms for 25 car-crossing locations along the railway.
While upgrading the railway, people will not be faced with difficulties, officials said. Routes will run normally, with the work done mainly in the afternoon when there are fewer travellers, said U Tun Aung Lin, general manager of Myanmar Railway (lower Myanmar).
Upgrading for the east part 1 through Danyingone station to Paywet Sate Kone station, a distance of 7.25 miles, will be done from 1 October to 31 January 2018. For the east part 2 from Paywet Sate Kone station to Yangon (Pazundaung), a distance of 8.5 miles, the work will be done from 1 February 2018 to 31 May 2018.
For the west part 1 of Danyingone-Insein (3.75 miles) the work will be from 1 October to 31 December 2018. For the west part 2 of Insein-Kyimyindine (5.5 miles), the work will be performed from 1 January 2018 to 31 March 2019. For west part 3 of Kyimyindine-Yangon (2.75 miles) the work will be done from 1 April 2019 to 31 May 2019.
It currently takes about three hours for a passenger to ride the full circuit of the circular train, but this will be reduced by about one hour after the upgrade, officials said.
The upgrade will increase efficiency, and the new coaches will replace aging, dirty coaches.
“We want the trains to be on time. As for good loaders and vendors, they need to throw their trash away systematically”, said a train passenger.
There are 2.5 million passengers who commute daily in the Yangon Region, with most of the people depending on cars. But about 90,000 per day use the train.
The Myanmar Railway said they will try to increase train passengers from 90,000 to 263,000 by 2022. The current speed of the train is 15 kilometers per hour. In 2022, the speed of the train is expected to be 26 kilometers per hour for normal travel and 60 kilometers per hour for fast travel, said the Myanmar Railway.
The railway is 46 kilometers long, with 38 stations and 25 train coaches run in daily routes.